Hole in tree stem and exposed tree roots

Asked March 12, 2018, 12:34 PM EDT

A tree branch has fallen off an apple tree stem leaving a void that is now filled with water. Is this repairable and, if so, how is the repair conducted? Secondly, the roots of a monkey puzzle tree have prominently exposed themselves at the surface. Why does this occur? I live in Coos County, Oregon.

Coos County Oregon tree health horticulture

1 Response

Hello, and thanks for directing your questions to us. Firstly, thanks for sending along the pictures as they really helped me determine that these are long-standing issues.

Regarding the large whole in the trunk of your apple tree, it appears that has quite calloused over as it has been exposed for quite some time. Due to the nature of the gap...my main question to you would be is if the tree is continuing to produce well, and if so, it would be best to leave it as is. Although the water setting there is not a real positive and may increase the opportunity for disease to enter, it may also not be posing a huge threat to its overall health. The hole is quite sizeable, and even if you had new damage, my suggestion would have been to cut it back to the collar next to the trunk; the old adage about painting it over is no longer recommended by OSU and other tree experts.

Regarding your monkey puzzle, if you like the tree as stands and it poses no issues for your house, foundation, or hardscaping nearby, it would probably be best to also leave as is. Your question as to why this is happening has to do with the fact that most of the roots of most trees tend to be fairly near the surface of the soil; the reasons for them protruding above has to do mostly with the increasing root girth over time, and perhaps a bit of erosion as well. One way to 'hide' the roots might be to mulch around the tree with bark, but that would largely be more of a cosmetic fix than to serve any real useful purpose to the tree.