Stem Girdling Roots

tree conditions

Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,

tree diseases
tree conditions tree diseases


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Stem girdling roots are roots that grow around the base of the tree. Most often, girdling roots are not visible above ground. These roots may reduce or eliminate the flow of water and nutrients and can be caused by poor nursery stock or improper planting practices.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Visible roots wrapped around the stem
  • Lack of stem taper (root flare)
  • Tip dieback
  • Sparse canopy

Effects On Your Tree

Stem girdling roots that are wrapped around the majority of the base of the tree will lead to serious issues (and can often lead to the tree blowing over).

Management Options

Prevention and early detection can help mitigate the effects of stem girdling roots. If girdling roots are identified, roots may be pruned to alleviate constriction. In severe cases, air tools may need to be used to remove soil from around the base of the tree to gain access to the roots.

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