Is it possible to determine a species of tree from studying a ball of roots?

Asked January 21, 2014, 12:04 PM EST

Is there a service for this? What is the cost associated with it? And how accurate is such a service? The city of Richfield, planted a boulevard tree on our property in spring 2002. It is an Autumnal Fire Maple. It has grown quickly. Over the last 8 months we have had our sewer line back up into our basement twice and the cause has been large root balls in the main sewer line (line between house and street). The city will not remove the tree (because it is not diseased or dead) and they said there was no way to be sure if those roots were in fact from this tree. I fully believe it is this tree. I have a large ball of roots right now that were pulled from the drain on Friday, Jan. 17. Is there any way for these roots to be analyzed to determine what tree they are coming from?

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

The presence of roots in the sewer pipe twice in 8 months means that the pipe has been compromised. There is an opening that allows the roots to enter. Remember, roots are opportunists and will grow toward water.It might be possible for a competent arborist to do a DNA analysis of the roots in the root ball and the roots of the tree to determine if the DNA is identical. If this is possible it would be extremely expensive. If it were my tree, I would try to work with the city, get their advice as to what you should do. It is possible that replacing your sewer liner might be the most viable option.