Several trees in my neighborhood seem to have an issue of not growing the lead branch straight up. It's as if the tree grew too fast and can't hold itself upright, so the top just flopped over. I took a picture of one such tree. One of my neighbors actually put in a stake and ran a line up 8 ft in an attempt to "straighten" out the flop. It doesn't look like it's working.

Was wondering what could cause this problem?

Flopping Tree

Update. Adding more photos. In response to all questions:

  • Different species of trees are doing it and only about 20% of the neighborhood trees.
  • There is no high wind in my area.
  • In southern Texas. High heat, low rain.
  • Each tree flops over at different angles.
  • These trees were probably transplanted 5-7 years ago.
  • The trees doing this are generally 8-12 ft tall. However there are plenty of other trees as big or bigger that aren't doing this.

Including more photos below. I could not see any consistency or pattern in regards to the trees doing this. I did get to thinking though. I do know our soil is pretty bad and I also know about half of the neighborhood has trees that are/were staked for 2 or more years. By default, the builder staked every tree and I gather most people don't realize they need to remove those stakes. Good 20% of the trees have died or on their way out from the stake rope/wire choking the trunk.

Could this flopping be a result of keeping a tree staked for too long?

Flop2 Flop3 Flop4 Flop5

  • 1
    As Bamboo asked, are all the trees doing this? Or just a specific species or genus?
    – Jurp
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 23:17
  • All the trees slope in the same direction? What about trees of different age? (just the top, or also old bark is sloping) Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 8:06
  • Is the picture of the tree that had been staked? Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 8:25
  • Are they all freshly transplanted trees? Are they growing in that direction, or were they once straight (and then leaned after the fact)? Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 8:27
  • Updated post with answers to all questions
    – Ifrit
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 1:05

1 Answer 1


The usual cause is persistent winds from the same direction. What's odd is that the tree appears to be straight up to a certain point; in areas where wind is constant, trees will grow crooked, and if those winds are strong, they may even grow almost horizontally. It probably isn't that the leader has 'flopped', more likely it's just choosing to grow more horizontally - it sort of suggests the winds are stronger at that height, but quite why I don't know, the neighbourhood looks to be mostly low housing. Do all the trees concerned do the same thing at more or less the same height?

  • Updated post with more details for you.
    – Ifrit
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 1:05
  • After lots of careful observation over the last year, I believe you are correct. My neighborhood seems to have some spots where wind is funneled more strongly. Additionally these "flopping" trees tend to flex in the wind way more then neighboring trees.
    – Ifrit
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 2:36

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