Scottsdale Observations

We’ve just finished a week of working in north Scottsdale for a Homeowners Association trimming and cleaning mistletoe from trees. Our first time through the property last May was described in this post. We really enjoyed this week better since the weather was beautiful (not as hot!) and there was a lot less mistletoe.

I was pleased to see with what had happened to the clumps of mistletoe that we pulled off last time – they barely grew back any (if at all) on the non-irrigated trees. On trees in yards, especially where the clump was on a main trunk, there was some regrowth – certainly more than on the trees in the washes where they don’t get as much water. Since the response to the treatment was so good we are planning to go to a once-a-year sweep of the property for mistletoe instead of twice-a-year!

While we were there we saw some interesting things including this under an old Ironwood:

Javelina peeking out from under an old Ironwood tree.

There was a herd of about 10 Javelina including one that was about half-sized. They were not extremely afraid of us but milled around and stayed in the vicinity of the old Ironwood which must have been their home.

Toward the end of the week there was a very strong wind one evening. A Palo Verde tree went down and we decided to take it out. The root system on the tree was bad (either from the nursery or from the time of planting, and/or poor irrigation practices) with some girdling roots and the rest of the root system going in only one direction. It is surprising that the tree didn’t tip over long ago! Here is what it looked like:

Poor root system on the tipped over Palo Verde

We hooked up a chain to the tree and to the bumper of my truck. It took very little pulling to get the stump out!

Ready to pull!

After cleaning up the mess from this tree and filling the hole with soil, we examined another Palo Verde a few trees to the south. This tree looked to be in really poor health. One of the main stems had been cut off at some point in the past. The other main stems were all alive with good color about 3/4 of the way to the top but with dead tips. If we were to prune out the dead wood there would basically be nothing left of the tree – we called the Management and got approval to take it out too. First we cut off the top, then moved my truck down and hooked it up like we did on the first tree. It took more pulls, but the stump finally came out. What do you think we found?

The root system was in good shape – but it was planted about 20″ TOO DEEP! Wow! I am surprised that the tree lasted as long as it did. This was not a multi-trunked tree as it appeared, it was just one with a low break that had been completely buried! The stress of having soil against the main trunk for all that time had stressed the tree so badly that it finally began to die. Among the roots were several huge larvae of what appeared to be the Palo Verde Root Borer (Derobrachus hovorei Santos-Silva) a large Cerambycid or “Long-horned beetle”. These borers were likely not the cause of the trees problems, but were attracted to it because it was stressed. We cleaned up this area and finished our time working on young trees that had been improperly pruned by landscapers.