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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
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Know anything about trees ? I have a Beech tree in the ditch

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Know anything about trees ? I have a Beech tree in the ditch at edge of garden which is 13ft. in girth, and aprox 150 years old. It is over 100ft tall and has at least two trunks growing out of the main trunk from about 20-25 ft. up from base. It is not showing any signs of malignant growth, fungus, or dodgy carbuncles on the outside all the way up, nor on the ground at its base. What is the max age of a Beech, and what can they contract that cannot be seen. Is a 150 year old at its end or how many more years does it have ?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. It sounds like you have a very beautiful old tree. Beech trees live on average 150 to 200 years, but have been known to live past 300 years. If you live in the Eastern United States, there is a dangerous potential threat to your tree. An insect called beech scale was accidentally introduced to the USA, and has spread through the east. The scale itself doesn't cause the tree's death, and is very difficult to see. The tiny wounds it creates in the bark allow fungal infections to gain a foothold. This is sometimes called beech bark disease. The fungus is what kills the tree. By the time such infections show themselves, it is often too late to save the tree. For that reason, it is better to take preventative measures. Horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps can be applied to kill the scale insects. Complete coverage is needed. Soil drenches or injections of imidiclopramide may also be effective. Because of the difficulty of treating such a large tree, it is best to hire an arborist to take care of the treatment. The arborist will know how prevalent this problem is in your area and which treatment will be most effective. You can find a certified arborist at this website:

It's also important to make sure the tree doesn't suffer from drought, so be sure to water deeply during dry spells. Scale insects cause more problems in trees that are stressed. A good all-purpose tree fertilizer will also keep the tree vigorous. You can read more in depth about the scale problem here: ;pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiYNmvVYf8K631R9wfF22uE0eVJsWXQK40hbpjIbCcpnPwqXf2pKWnvwqbJnvsiNvw_am96CqWh96GTY38GJkOeYkkfO5sQjXCQ0gW1n2grJxYUjuQI3WcHmJnItKywaIFs0iip&sig=AHIEtbTvefDGC6x-NBqq6ultipUo1w4dyA

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your tree will thrive for many more years.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Anna, thank you very much for your comprehensive reply. The tree is in that green, well watered, and temperate of climate place called Ireland. There are a huge number of Beech trees in the area, alot of which are currently being felled by landowners who have been threatened by either the local authority or their insurance Co., by some legislation governing roadside hedges, bushes, trees, etc. The result is a landscape along country roads becoming ugly and emaciated by tall trees that have all the branches on the road-side cut off. They never heard of 'Aesthetics' or restraint, and are obviously leaving the job to ignorant chain-saw operators who would never have heard of the "A" or "r word. Where did the 'scale' problem originate ? Do we have any such ? Just thought I would add that I am very much against all this destruction, unless it is absolutely necessary. I am alone around here, it seems, in really loving trees, hedges, shrubbery, etc., and am surrounded by those who are quite happy to fell but never plant anything to compensate. They don't seem to know about 'the lungs of the land'.. Someday we will have nothing to soak up the Carbon Dioxide !
Please get back to me about the 'scale' problem. What about the nesting season ? Should all this felling be going on now when the birds are building, and mating ?
Regards, Sean..
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Hi Sean,

Your reply makes me sad. I always thought that people in Europe had more respect for green things and nature than what I see here in the States, but it appears things are the same all over the world. I live in a rural part of the United States, and I'm seeing the same thing here. Like you, I feel alone in being against it. Every yard, every roadside has to be covered with perfect lawn and little evergreens sheered to a round ball shape. And yes, it seems it si being done by chainsaw operators, just as you're seeing. Eventually, we humans are going to pay for our disregard of the natural world.

I did a little research on the scale insects, and they are a problem in Ireland (and throughout Europe), too. It is the same situation where the insects introduce a fungus, which kills the tree. I couldn't find the equivalent of certified arborists, but I did find a service which will treat beech trees throughout Ireland. Here is their website:

You are also right that this is a very bad time of year to be removing habitat since the birds are nesting. All i can do is sympathize with you. It does appear we are in a small minority. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to ask.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on the green ACCEPT button. Thank you.)

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello Anna, The people whose website you mention are called Vaughan, and seem to be based in the Midlands. This is some distance from me, and I am hoping to find a local Arborist, with the right equipment, to scan the inside of my Beech without boring holes right in. This may be a small country but the roads up through the middle are not good, and it would probably take 2&1/2 to 3 hours to drive each way. I have sent them an Email anyway to get in touch with me, in the hope that they are or will be in this area.
The actions of farmers, and owners of land along the roads appear to be dictated by the Road Safety Act of 1993 or 1995, which I must look up.
You are right : Humans will pay, and it is their actions and ignorance that are slowly killing the planet. It is no use looking to Mars or another planet to colonise. It takes too long to get there, and if we do the same thing will happen, unless we change our nature.Can you imagine that happening.? It's ironic ! If I lived in the USA I would start a movement to stop the spending of such huge sums on Mars exploration, and have it re-directed to education, and saving this world. How about you doing that ?
Many thanks for your help. It is great to be able to talk to another about a shared grievance. If I could do the same with the Anna that is related to me I would be happier [ my niece].
Best Regards, XXXXX XXXXX a happy Easter. Sean.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, Sean,

Perhaps the Vaughan company will be able to refer you to someone who can help, if they don't have plans to be in your area.

We do have a number of environmental groups in the USA, and I've been involved in them my whole life. They just don't have the authority to do the things they would like.

I wish you a happy Easter, too, and success in saving your tree,

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