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Why Do Trees Fall After Floods?

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This tree fell as a result of Tropical Storm Fay Image by Grumpy Chrisvia Flickr Creative Commons
Question: Why Do Trees Fall After Floods?
Answer:

After heavy rainstorms and floods, reports of fallen trees may start pouring in. As the soil around the tree becomes soaked with water, it can loosen around the roots and even wash away.

The roots normally help anchor the tree so that it stays relatively stable in light winds. With the loss of soil, however, the tree shifts more and may fall over. As the University of Georgia Extension points out, the falling tree will cause stress in the surrounding trees, which may cause enough momentum to make them fall also.

Other problems that floods can cause for trees include:

  • Oxygen loss to roots
  • Interruption of photosynthesis
  • Nitrogen soil loss
  • Rotting of roots
  • Poor nutrient uptake
  • Increase in fungal attacks
  • Poor germination
  • Loss of beneficial microorganisms

The University of Georgia extension has a list of flood tolerant trees on their website.

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