Tree Damage Series: Couples Are Not Showing The Trees Any Love
A common practice meant to be a visible statement of your love for each other is not as innocent as you may have thought. I took this photo of some Beech (Fagus spp.) trees in the New York Botanical Garden last fall.
In front them a plaque reads:
“Carving Harms Trees… Trees are living things and their bark is like our skin. Though it may seem harmless, carving into the bark damages the tree’s defensive barrier, creating openings for deadly infections and pest infestations. Very deep cuts can even damage the xylem and phloem, plant tissues that transport water and nutrients throughout the tree. Disrupting this flow of nutrients can starve a living tree to death.”
The bark of a tree is its first line of protection, and destroying that tissue is unnecessarily cruel. The tree becomes susceptible to pathogens, and often one carving seems to offer others the go ahead to make one themselves, further putting the tree at risk.
Beech trees are one of the species most affected by this type of damage due to their pale, smooth silver bark. Though not a threatened species, these trees are currently battling Beech Bark Disease, which takes hold after beech scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) infestations and therefore, in my opinion, have enough to contend with.
Please take the trees around you under careful consideration, and instill a sense of respect for this vital organisms in future generation.