Arboriculture Consulting – When a Friend becomes a Foe

As an expert arborist, recently, I was contacted with a request to provide a forensic tree hazard evaluation of a massive Eucalyptus tree that had fallen on a home in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego. The tree, a 125’ Eucalyptus camaldulensis weighing more then 23,000 lbs, crashed through the roof of the house, causing major property damage, fortunately no one was injured.

Scripps Ranch is a community in San Diego Synonymous with Eucalyptus trees, which were heavily planted as the area was developed thirty to fifty years ago. Over time, as the Eucalyptus trees and groves have aged, their original beauty and shading effect as well as the country ambiance they provide, has turned controversial as many aging beloved giants become major hazards to the public.

As an ISA certified arborist, a professional horticulturist and C-27 landscape contractor, no one loves trees more than I. However, love can also blind one to seeing flaws in the object of their love. Regardless of the aesthetic benefits the Eucalyptus trees provide, they can pose an increasingly inherent risk of failure as they age, if the potential target cannot be protected, tree removal should be considered. It is very important a skilled professional is utilized to perform a risk assessment to determine the hazard potential of an individual tree.

The fallen Eucalyptus I inspected was located in City of San Diego Open Space behind the homeowner’s property. The city had already removed the tree, leaving the uprooted stump in place for inspection. The entire root system was completely rotted. Major structural roots up to six inches in diameter were black, secondary and minor roots were black, any remaining outer cortex sloughed off, no feeder roots present at all.

The compromised root system led to the structural failure of the tree. In this instance, the cause of the root rot appeared to be years of accumulated ground bark mulch that had been placed throughout the open space area, burying the root system and piling up against the trunk and root flair, effectively suffocating and killing the tree.

If an old giant friend of yours is starting to lean, showing signs of decay, die back or other symptoms of decline, have your tree inspected immediately by Jeremy Rappoport, President of Rappoport Development Consulting Services. Mr. Rappoport is an ISA certified arborist, a professional horticulturist and C-27 landscape contractor. More information about Mr. Rappoport may be found at or call 858-205-4748.

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