I Cannot Tell a Lie – I Chopped Down The Cherry Tree

But I really did not enjoy the task.


©Charly, all rights reserved.

My father has planted this tree for me when I was about 10 years old. I liked cherries back then. Now I cannot eat cherries any more, because for some reason they cause me hypoglycemia which is really unpleasant. But I enjoyed the blossoms in the spring nevertheless, I always looked forward to them and I did not mind the birds eating all the fruit at all.

I did not take any pictures with my new camera last year, so I can only share pictures that I made with the old one in 2012.

Cherry Blossoms

©Charly, all rights reserved, click for full size.

Last fall mushrooms sprouted on the trunk and that is a really bad sign. There are two kinds of wood in a tree – sapwood, which delivers nutrients from roots to the crown, and heartwood, which is usually more dry and dark and is essentially blocked off and completely dead. Accordingly, there are two types of fungi that can attack wood on a living tree – ones that attack the sapwood, and ones that attack the heartwood. Have a guess at which of these two is more dangerous.

If you like me during my studies guessed those that attack sapwood, you guessed wrong. Fungi that attack sapwood will cause the tree to wither and eventually die, but the tree remains standing relatively intact afterwards for long enough to be felled safely. However fungi that attack heartwood are more insidious – the tree can grow for many more years at absolutely normal rate without anything really visible on the outside. And then, when enough heartwood has rotten away, a branch will suddenly snap, or a the trunk will spit or break. And this of course is dangerous, because to an untrained eye the apparently healthy tree is essentially a ticking bomb that can kill someone at any time – which is something that has happened in CZ a few years ago and it has made the headlines. Heartwood is dead and dry, but it still has a function – it is the scaffolding that holds the tree upright and together.

This tree has developed a split in the trunk at about 10 years  age. We were doing our best to keep fungal infections away, but the split never closed off and we were evidently unsuccessful in the end. I was not able to take a good picture of the mushroom, because it lasted only a few days, none of which was on a weekend. I was unable to determine the exact species too. But I was confident enough in assessing that it is a heartwood eating fungus. So I decided to fell the tree before it becomes dangerous to do so. The tree was huge, so all winter I have cut branches when I could. They were all still healthy and I started to have doubts. But this friday I have finally cut the trunk right above the ground and my assessment of the situation was confirmed. The fungus has already invaded the inner 10 years growth and was spreading. The tree would probably live a few more years, maybe even a decade, but I do not think it was worth the risk, since I do not know how fast the fungus spreads.

Cherry trunk - cut

©Charly, all rights reserved, click for full size.

I have felt real connection with that tree. I was hoping for it to live longer and age with me. If I ever feel something that could be described as a spiritual experience, it is in the presence of a tree in the spring.

I will plant a new cherry tree on the spot as soon as possible.


  1. says

    What a beautiful tree! Such a sadness to lose it, I am so sorry for your loss, Charly. I hope all goes well with the new Cherry tree.

  2. Nightjar says

    I’m so sorry, that must have been difficult for you. And what a lovely tree it was, I’m sure you are going to miss it.

    I can get really connected with trees around me even if they are not mine. It was really painful for me last week watching the neighbors cut down three huge majestic cedar trees, right in front of my bedroom’s window. They were beautiful, all the same size, perfectly aligned in a row and evenly spaced. Their tops were a preferred spot for jays, magpies, doves and crows. But… they were less than 50 meters away from houses and their branches were less than 4 meters away from each other, a situation which has now been made illegal. And after last year’s forest fires killed over 100 people, the government is threatening everyone who doesn’t follow the rules with ridiculously high fines. So people are afraid and are cutting everything down, even more than they are legally required, just to be safe. I’m not sure this is what’s going to save us next summer and I’m a little concerned that the government is acting like it is. When their plan seems to boil down to “cut down trees so they don’t burn” things don’t look very reassuring.

  3. voyager says

    I’m sorry, Charly. I can’t imagine having to fell a tree that you love. I have several trees that I feel bonded to. I’ve given them names and sometimes we talk. I wish I could understand them better. They’ve done studies showing that trees communicate with each other. The largest trees are called grandmother trees and they shunt resources so that the trees with the greatest need get the most water and nutrients.

    I’m sorry also about your cedars, Nightjar. Those seem like very strict rules. 50 metres is a long way. In my neighbourhood most of the trees are much closer than that.

  4. says

    Wow. That’s so sad.

    It also has me worried. The tree in our front yard split a few months ago and wrecked the old man’s car. I saw a few mushrooms, but I didn’t think much of it. We have a swing hanging from the tree that the kids love. I think I should find someone to take a look at it.

    But I’m not as attached to the tree as I am to the lilac bush in our backyard. I’m still steamed that the old man chopped the bush to about half its size a couple years ago. He didn’t do it to get rid of dead branches or anything. He just thought it was too big and didn’t consider consulting with me or my mother before whipping out the hedge trimmer.

  5. says

    That’s so sad.
    One of the old apple trees in my parents’ garden suffered the same fate.
    Made me think about the trees. From those that stood there during my childhood only the cherry tree and the plum tree are left*. The others went down, one by one, each one laden with memories of climbing and falling, of sitting in the crown eating sweet fruit and stolen peas.
    Now there are three new ones: a cherry tree which Mr and I got for our wedding, a small apple tree my grandpa asked for for his 80th birthday and a by now rather big cherry tree my grandpa grafted himself.
    *My grandpa had planted way too many trees.

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    I’m sorry Charly! The first and the last picture really drive home why it was the prudent thing to do. It looks like the tree falling in an uncontrolled manner would have been a big crash with unpredictable consequences.

    There’s one pine I think about sometimes. It was a pine that had been growing in a place with way too little light so that I thought it was a spruce because the needles were so short. As a kid, I moved it from the forest to the yard of of my family’s summer cottage when it was almost as tall as I was. As it got a lot more light there than it got in the forest, under a big tree, it started to thrive (the only thing a Scots pine needs to have in abundance is light). My family doesn’t rent the place any more and the cottage has been torn down and I’m not sure if the pine is still there, but I hope it is.

  7. jazzlet says

    Sorry Charly. Fruit trees are not that long lived as trees go, particularly if they have been grafted.

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    I lost a cheery and an apple (which was already pretty far gone) and a cedar is the last storm. Heavy wet snow and high winds just knocked them over. I have to get more trees planted to replace them. Carbon negativity here we come.

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