Lion-tailing- Why it’s wrong and how to fix it

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What is it?  The over-pruning of a tree by removing the majority of the interior branches leaving only the terminal leaves (like the tuff of the lion’s tail.)

Why is it wrong?

  • reduces the trees food supply by removing a large percentage of the leaves used for photosynthesis
  • the over pruning  causes a stress reaction called “epicormic sprouting” , “water sprouts” or “suckers”, causing a flush of branches along the trunk and limbs. This leads to weak branch unions and poor overall structure.
  • the long, leafless branches create a lever which when inflicted with wind, snow or ice are prone to breakage and splitting .

What can be done?  A tree can recover from lion-tailing if the sprouts are allowed to develop into branches and then reduced slightly and spaced along the branch.

Call an Expert!  A certified arborist will not recommend Lion-tailing and will prune trees for maximum health and safety according to ANSI standard.

An example of the negative effects of lion-tailing. Due to the increased leverage of the long branch, the branch has split due to pressure between the compression and the tension wood.
Logan Tree Experts works on restoring a maple that had been lion-tailed. They perform selective pruning of the epicormic growth in order to re-establish a healthy structure and stronger branch unions. The installation of a structural cable was also necessary to dampen the bending and twisting of the trunks .This is a gradual process that could take many years.