What Causes A Tree Trunk To Split Vertically: 2 Ways to Help

What causes a tree trunk to split vertically & How to save the tree before it’s too late

Have you noticed that vertical cracks have appeared in the tree trunk of your tree? Cracks in tree trunks are significant signs of tree instability. Feel free to contact reputable tree removal specialists to help you fix the problem before it gets worse.

What causes a tree trunk to split vertically? Read on to find out.

Frost cracks (Sun scald)

There are different versions of the formation of frost vertical cracks. One of the reasons is the significant difference in deformation of wood in the tangential and radial directions during cooling.

This difference leads to critical stresses, splintering, and ultimately to the rupture of the wood. Alternating freezing and thawing of water entering the cleft considerably worsens the situation in the central part of the split tree trunk, forming frost cracks in early spring on warm sunny days. The greatest shrinkage occurs if the moisture content of the wood slightly exceeds the value of the hygroscopicity limit.

Frost cracks in tree branches

Temperature variation

The least likely cause of frost cracks vertical cracks in the tree is considered to be a significant temperature difference between the central and peripheral parts of the damaged tree trunk, when, with a sudden decrease in temperature, the outer layers of wood are cooled and compressed more strongly than the inner ones vertical splits.

These vertical cracks in the tree form immediately, and their appearance is accompanied by a strong frost cracks. With a subsequent increase in warm temperatures, the compressed outer layers again assume the same volume, and the frost crack closes so tightly that in summer it is difficult to notice the newly formed vertical cracks in the tree.

Is it possible to repair a split tree trunk?

Answering the question, what causes a tree trunk to split vertically, we would like to note the following:

It is possible, but on condition that the tree is not split in half, but only covered with light cracks in the tree trunk.


This method involves drilling without sharp knife at least three holes directly into the split part of the barrel. When you insert the bolts into the holes. Make sure you use large washers at each end of the bolt to provide a significant surface area to increase support.

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How to save the tree with bolts

Remove the tree’s wound completely

Another simple and effective way to repair a damaged tree trunk is to completely remove the wound. First, you need to remove the dark edges before making an incision around the wound. This process promotes better and faster healing.

Removing the wound allows the plant to transport vital nutrients and thrive. It would help if you were careful not to remove the healthy back, exposing more living tissue than necessary. Try to give the wound the shape of an elongated oval, making sure that the long axis runs vertically along the split tree trunk.

Consult an expert

Although the process is simple, consider contacting an experienced tree care professional if you doubt your abilities.

In some situations, the tree trunks may be seriously damaged duct tape, repair is impossible, and the tree risks becoming dangerous. In such a situation, you will need to completely delete the entire tree. If you are confident about the condition of your damaged tree trunk and whether it can be dangerous, it is best to seek proper advice from a certified tree removal specialist.

How to repair a damaged tree trunk

How to repair split bark on a tree

Trees split due to various reasons in warm winter days. It is important to eliminate them correctly. The sooner you do it, the better. Just above, we talked about two main tools that will help you eliminate cracks in the tree. Let’s now see how to use them and what to do with various frost cracks.

Sunscald treatment

Due to high freezing and thawing temperature fluctuations, trees in the south and southwest side are most often affected. The inner tree trunk splits and dies. In such cases, it is important to let the bark grow itself. Do not use paint or sealant.

This will only interfere with the natural healing of the bark. You only need to cut the wound of the tree slightly with a knife. To make the healing process go faster, you can wrap the damaged part of the bark with a light tree wrap.

To prevent such injuries, it is advisable to plant trees in more darkened places or wrap the tree trunks in advance with a special material.

wrap the tree trunks in advance with a special material

Herbicides cracks

Some herbicides contain glyphosate, which can cause the bark of your tree to split section. When you voluntarily or unwittingly apply herbicides directly to a tree, use products near the tree trunks too often, or apply large doses to the area surrounding the split tree, glyphosate destroys the inner south of the tree trunks.

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Thus, by eliminating the hardness of the water, you can cause more damage to the splitting tree trunks. The treatment of cracks in the tree caused by herbicides is similar to the treatment of frost cracks in the tree and bark splits from sunburn in winter.

Prevent damage to the tree trunk

However, you can prevent glyphosate damage by using better support herbicides without excipients or wetting agents, using the right doses, maintaining a safe distance between your trees and the landscape you are spraying, or applying other weed removal surface methods.

Be very careful when working with chemical liquids in the garden. If something didn’t go according to plan, check out some helpful tips here: Does antifreeze kill trees: how to destroy a tree and what to do if you accidentally spilled antifreeze near a tree?

Can a broken tree trunk be repaired?

Yes, wound completely a split section tree can grow back together if the damage is not costly and if you act quickly.

Using nuts and bolts, you can reattach the split tree trunks to provide support and allow nutrients to flow through. Plant cells, however, requires patience surface, because it may take months frost crack before the tree trunk retains its shape.

how to fix a broken tree trunk

Chapter FAQ

What causes tree bark to split vertically?

Splitting can occur from various reasons: improper formation of the crown of young trees, overload of branches with fruit harvest, untimely (belated) support of supports, the influence of gusty winds, breaking off branches with careless removal of fruits, etc. If the splits branch is immediately pulled up to its original position and firmly fixed, it can grow and continue to grow and fruiting.

Can you save a tree with a split trunk?

It is possible to preserve a split tree trunk if the splitting is not extensive. You can use nuts and bolts to connect the splits trunk to help it heal. If the damage area of the tree is less than 25% of the trunk circumference, it can gradually heal and survive.

However, if more than 50% of the tree’s crown has disappeared, it may not be possible to save the tree because it will lose its survival benefits.

What does a split in a tree trunk mean?

Cracks in wood are the rupture of wood along the fibers. Forms a group of tree wood defects.

The appearance of large cracks in tree is associated with the presence of internal stresses present in each growing tree, as well as stresses arising in the felled wood under the influence of external factors.

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What causes a tree trunk to split vertically?

The main causes of frost cracking:

  1. Temperatures drop, freezing. In the cold season, the sun’s rays are able to heat the frost cracking until the young trees sap is completely liquefied. After sunset and cooling, the reverse process occurs. The juice freezes and the bark cracks, unable to withstand the pressure.
  2. Thermal burn. Overheating often provokes the appearance of frost crack on fruit tree’s bark, as well as brown or brown spots. Heat rays disrupt the structure of the crust, which leads to numerous damages.
  3. Physical pressure. Small frost cracks can occur from excessive amounts of wet snow. Or from branches broken in the wind. In summer, mechanical damage is caused by excess fruit.
  4. Pests and diseases. The shell of the tree’s trunk can burst and crack from the invasion of tree trunk beetles. Black cancer is a disease, one of the symptoms of which are wounds, spots and frost cracks on the thin bark. Lichens, necrosis can also affect the formation of defects.
  5. Grouth frost cracking. Watch this video by EarthCraft Design Build Maintain to learn more:


Answering the question, what causes a tree trunk to split vertically, we would like to note the following. The appearance of cracks on the tree’s bark of trees can be caused by external factors, as well as errors during planting and care. The main reasons late fall are temperature imbalance in late winter, pests, improper pruning, violation of feeding rules, excessive deepening of the seedling.

To do tree pruning correctly, better check:

If cracks are detected, treatment should be started as soon as possible. Timeliness is the key to healing the tree’s trunk. Lack of proper care is likely to lead to complication of the disease and wilting of the plant. In the worst case, the infection can spread to other fruit and berry crops. This can lead to the death of the entire garden.

Frost cracks or Sun scald in tree bark and trunk