Tree bark damage

Asked November 11, 2019, 4:09 PM EST

Hello, over the weekend 2 of our trees were hit by a car and damaged the bark. Is there anything we should do to protect the tree? One is a pine tree and has some damage on one side, bark scraped of in an area of ~ 6 inches wide and 18 inches tall near the bottom of the trunk. The other trees bark is damaged extensively. It was hit head on by a car at a good speed and the bark is torn off for about 1/3 of the diameter of the tree and is ~ 2 feet tall. I do not know what kind of tree it is other than it has leaves. Both the trees are ~ 20 years old. I've heard that you should and should not protect the damage. looking for direction. Thank you.

Anoka County Minnesota

1 Response

There is nothing that you can do to speed the sealing of the tree wounds. Trees try to seal their wounds through the growth of callus tissue.This callus tissue will seal off, or compartmentalize, the damage from the rest of the tree. Tree species vary in how well they are able compartmentalize the wound. Trees do not heal their bark like we heal our skin. There are products marketed as tree or wound dressing. There is little evidence that these products provide any benefit, and they can slow the wound-sealing process. Sealing a wound with wound dressings can trap moisture and harmful organisms and stimulate the rotting process. Large wounds can not close quickly so they may allow wood decay organisms and insects to move in and weaken the trunk of the tree. If it is close to the street, sidewalk, driveway, building or anywhere people frequent then over time as the decay sets in it will pose a potential hazard due to a weakened trunk. The injury will significantly shorten the life of the tree. Tree bark also protects the cambium, phloem and xylem layers ("straw-like" vertical structures) that move nutrients and water up and down between the leaves and roots. Stripped bark destroys these structures so water and nutrients cannot be transported around the entire circumference of a tree. Since the cambium "straws" were destroyed in the trunk, you will likely see dead or dying branches above the damaged part of the tree.

If your tree is badly damaged and it is a valuable tree to you, you may wish to consult a certified arborist to assess the damage.