Most of us don’t like to kill trees. But for generations man has cleared the land of trees in order to plant crops for food. So it happens.

When the Europeans came to Australia they had neither Herbicides, nor Tractors, nor Chainsaws. The only tools he had were the axe, (please note spelling) or the saw.

But it took an awful amount of energy to cut down a tree that may have been two metres across. Huge straight trees may have justified the effort for the timber produced was of extreme value. But many trees were of less value and the farmer had neither the time nor the inclination. What he needed was for the land to be cleared so that he could plant crops or grow pasture.

And if it was pasture he needed he did not need the tree to be removed. He just needed it to stop growing – to die. A dead tree stops taking nutrients out of the soil and stop drinking the water.

In order to effectively kill the tree the early farmers would ring-barkΒ the tree.

An axeman will cut a strip completelyΒ  circling the tree and removing the bark and a small amount of the cambium layer. This is the thin wet layer of cells that are formed between the bark and the sapwood. This layer, which is probably only as thin as a few cells is the part that grows.

Below is a tree that would have been ring-barked a century ago.

Notice that the dead tree is not taking up much of the space required for grass.

A closer look at the scar.

And behind it is what the land would have looked like except that the trees are much younger and not as dense as it would have been.

I don’t know if ‘arboricide’ is a real word or not. But my Latin tells me if it is not real, at least it is correct. ‘Arbor’ is Latin for tree, ‘occidere’ is the verb to kill. So arboricide is to kill a tree. Now the Greek for tree is ‘dentro’ and if we put dentro together with occidere we should get dentrocide. But we don’t, because you should not join a greek word with a latin word.

Anyway, The Latin word that sounds a lot like dentro is dente so dentrocide is more likely to be the killing of a tooth and although dentists should get twenty years with hard labour it isn’t a real word.

11 thoughts on “Arboricide

  1. Reading about killing trees makes me feel a bit sore all over. Trees are our kin! Thanks for this interesting blog, Paol πŸ™‚

    Sorry if this comment is a bit discombobulated. Suffering cabin fever here. More wet stuff, and little melt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you wish to be further discombobulated then re-read my post ‘cos I updated it with a note at the bottom. And I quite like discombobulation. Although I am a bit inclined to being an antidiscombobulationist.


    1. And once they have started doing that, I would imagine that they are assuming liability and therefore they have to continue. It is such a bad thing because a dead branch usually leaves a hollow and were will the birds and small animals make their nests.
      You have just given me a hook to hang my next hat on. Post I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Over here, we call that technique, ‘girdling’. Which, if you’ve ever worn a girdle, you’d understand the unpleasantness πŸ˜‰
    It works because the ‘circulatory system’ of a tree is about 2cm below the bark. Cutting that is like cutting your main artery. The inner part of the tree is strictly for structure.
    It is sad when trees are removed for farming. However, there are many reasons to do it in a wild area. Some of our cranes here prefer dead trees to roost in for visibility of predators.


    1. I was taking it for granted that you would fill in the important details. Everytime I write a blog post about trees I think, “What will the babe with the finger-nails think.” And every-bloody-time you come up trumps. I don’t like your politics, but I surely love you. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate seeing old trees cut down. The forestry people in the Northwest have a bad habit of leaving a band of forest standing next to the highway (for scenic purposes), and then cutting down the ‘invisible’ trees in order to clear land for ‘progress.’ Sounds rotten to me.

    On another note, we had two tall Eastern Hemlocks taken out last summer because they were a danger to our neighbor’s house. Especially in the last few years when we’ve been getting more and more ‘freak’ weather (extreme wind/cold/rain or the opposite). The Nor’easter we had a few days ago took down a slew of old sturdy trees in our neighborhood, with many falling onto live wires. And many still standing for the next windstorm.

    Liked by 1 person

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