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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Consultant
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Is it bad for my tree to be somewhat hollow / have rot inside? I

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Is it bad for my tree to be somewhat hollow / have rot inside?
I have some type of oak tree (I think) in my front yard. It's leaves and acorns are beautiful and healthy looking every year. However, it has had some a fairly large wound on it since I bought the house in 2007. I recently bought some tree repair spray I thought might help heal the wound. Instructions on the can said chip away any loose / dead material before applying. But I was surprised by how much loose material there is. I kept chipping and chipping deeper and found out the tree seems almost hollow at the base around this wound. Is this OK? Can it heal?
Welcome and thank you for your question!

I am sorry to learn of your experience. The tree will not heal. For all functional purposes, the tree is already dead. In older trees the bark and living sapwood can be "breached" so the center becomes hollow. As long as most of the bark and cambium linking the roots with the leaves is intact the tree continues to live.

The original breach may have been from a branch lost in a storm. This lets insects attack the wood making tunnels then birds follow widening the tunnels to eat the insects. Eventually the tree has a hollow. This can never be reversed. The tree is now structurally weakened and it's only a matter of time before it will fall. I personally know of a woman who was cutting grass on her riding lawnmower on a beautiful day who was killed by large falling branch from such a tree. It's a condition you should not ignore.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied.

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~~ J.B.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I appreciate your insight. My tree is large & mature. Its wound is at the base and it's hollow from the the wound pretty much to the other side so it is somewhat concerning.


I stubled across a page talking about filling a hollow with concrete to help strengthen it. Do you have any experience with or thoughts on filling a hollow?


I can't help but think of the giant redwoods with roads paved through the center of the tree, too!


A guy down the road from me did that about seven years ago and his wife was madder than a hornet when the tree still had to come down and then she was stuck with that huge cement "sculpture" in her yard and the guy had no way to remove it. She hammered him something fierce because it's easier and cheaper to just have the stump ground out -- can't do that when there was all that cement put in.

I have not personally filled a trunk with cement because, again, that does nothing to strengthen the branches which are also weakening in this process.

~~ J.B.