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I am considering purchasing a field grown Cathedral Live Oak, I think the tree is gorgeous and has a lot of potential but I have three concerns. I will list each concern below with supporting images and then end with a couple images showing the entire tree.

Please respond with any comments about these concerns.

1. Dark spots at the main forks. The trees in the field are covered in Spanish Moss and it seems like it stays pretty humid with damp soil.

  1. oak tree dark

  2. oak tree dark

  3. oak tree dark

2. It's hard to see in the picture but it looks like someone pruned off these two branches that seem to be dead. Wondering if these branches are in fact dead or just not growing leaves. It seems like having a dead branch would be a bad sign this early in age.

  1. dead branches

  2. dead branches

3. The main leader branch seems to be a bit squiggly This was one thing I didn't notice on other trees. The main leader seems to be in a battle between staying as one branch and breaking off into two. It does eventually break off but it looks like the two branches did not separate cleanly

  1. leader branch

  2. leader branch

Full tree

  1. enter image description here

  2. enter image description here

1 Answer 1

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I can write only about your second and third issues:

  1. I can definitely see that the two branches you've highlighted have been pruned, and poorly/stupidly at that. The leftmost branch does appear to have an angle cut, which is good, but why the tree's owner didn't just cut it and its partner back to the parent branch is odd. If you look at the rightmost branch, you'll see missing bark and a woodpecker's hole, which means that the heartwood is almost certainly dead. This makes that branch (at least) very weak and liable to breaking during heavy wind.

  2. I'm seeing a horizontal cut at the top of the branch, probably where the owner removed a competing leader. While doing so, it appears that the tree cutter didn't actually do that correctly and caused a large amount of bark to be stripped off the bottom of the branch, accounting for the dead-looking stripe you see there. The tree is trying to heal itself with a callus but still has a few years to go. The flat top of that branch bothers me, as that's where rot is most likely to occur.

My Opinion

FWIW, my qualifications for expressing this opinion are: An AAS degree in Landscape Horticulture, including Arboriculture; five years' experience in the trade selling trees and shrubs; and 50+ years of practical experience.

If I saw this tree in the plant nursery I would run, not walk, to a different one - a different nursery, that is. The extremely poor pruning jobs done on this tree would not give me any confidence that the owners actually know what they're doing in their business. Would I buy this tree? NO, for the reasons I wrote above.

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  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree the pruning related to concern 2 is odd. I don’t think there is any pruning related to concern 3 however. I think that is more natural plant growth.
    – Mike
    Apr 20, 2022 at 18:50
  • As for #3, perhaps, but I can see no other good explanation for the missing bark, but then I'm only seeing one view of the branch. A lightning strike can cause similar damage but generally then kills the tree. As for my reasons for trying a different nursery, pruning down to a branch is literally the first thing taught to anyone who's going to be working with trees for a living - if this place doesn't even know that elementary, most basic piece of information, then IMO its trees are automatically suspect.
    – Jurp
    Apr 20, 2022 at 21:37

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