I’ve noticed an epidemic in several of the neighborhoods in Fort Worth, usually south of I-20. It’s called lion’s-tailing, stripping or just plain over pruning. It consists of removing all the interior growth all the way to the very end of the limb or branch. This leaves a “poof” of foliage resembling a lion’s tail. The stripped out interior may look nice to some people, but has very detrimental effects on the tree! In and of itself, lion’s-tailing will not kill trees. However, excessive pruning stresses the tree’s systems. It causes an interruption in photosynthesis and depletion in stored starches and sugars. Trees need these stores to survive other natural stresses such as drought or insect damage. Often the water bonds that trees rely on to move water through the trunk and branches are interrupted with lion’s-tailing. Structural issues can result from uneven foliage distribution. Too much sunlight can penetrate the canopy, scorching sensitive bark and cause sun scalding thus creating strength loss. Limbs may also grow longer, but not necessarily stronger, leading to future failures and unbalanced canopies. Improper pruning practices such as lion’s-tailing are one of the most common causes of tree decline, but are also the most easy to prevent. Make sure your trees are pruned to industry standards and accept no excuses or explanations from those ignorant of or unwilling to work to these standards. Together we can keep trees healthy and strong!