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Sudden Limb Drops: Why Eucalyptus Trees Shed Their Limbs and What to Look Out For

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A healthy eucalyptus tree can provide an area with many benefits. They grow quickly, up to 15 feet per year, offer shade, act as a natural wind barrier and are also visually appealing. They also attract wildlife, such as lorikeets, eastern rosellas and possums. However, despite their hardiness and ability to adapt to most climates and soil types, eucalyptus trees are prone to shedding leaves, bark and, more worryingly, limbs.

The Worst Known Culprits of Limb Shedding

Giant eucalypts are so notorious for sudden limb drops that they are often called 'widow makers' because of the danger posed by their heavy limbs. All eucalypts drop limbs, but two of the worst culprits are the yellow box gum tree, which can grow up to 100 feet tall, and the maiden's blue gum, which can grow to over 150 feet in height.

The Cause of Limb Shedding

Although eucalyptus trees are extremely drought tolerant, one of their survival mechanisms during periods of hot and dry weather is to shed a limb in order to preserve the rest of their structure. This shedding allows the remaining parts of the tree to survive on what little moisture remains. In short, eucalyptus trees will sacrifice limbs in order to survive when water is scarce.

Disease too can cause eucalyptus trees to shed their limbs, however, if you inspect your trees regularly, you should be able to identify the signs of disease in advance. Look out for vertical streaks, discoloration under the bark and oozing sap as these are all signs of disease.

When to Be on Your Guard

If the weather in your area has been particularly hot and dry recently, you should be wary of falling limbs. Even if your eucalyptus tree appears healthy and robust, it may still shed a limb at any moment. Also be aware that horizontal branches pose the most risk, especially if they are over your house or driveway.

A lack of water in the soil around your tree is another sign that your tree may soon sacrifice one of its limbs to survive the drought.

Ensure Your Eucalyptus Tree Has Access to Water

By making sure your tree has at least a little water available to it, you can help to prevent any instances of limb shedding.

However, if your tree is particularly tall and is situated close to yours or a neighbour's house, you should consider hiring an arborist to assess the risk level especially if the tree is one of the species mentioned earlier in this article. It is never nice to have to remove a tree that you have grown used to, but if your property is at risk, it might very well be the cheapest and safest option you have.