Pruning River Red Gum

Pruning – River Red Gum

Pruning – River Red Gum: A Comprehensive Guide

I have had the pleasure of working with many tree species, and none have captivated me quite like the River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). This iconic Australian tree can grow up to 45 meters tall and 25 meters wide, with distinctive grey and red bark and elongated leaves. In this guide, we will explore the various stages of pruning this magnificent tree, from planting to maturity.

Planting

When planting a River Red Gum, it is essential to choose the right location. This tree prefers well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight and room to grow. Once planted, it is crucial to keep the tree watered and protected from extreme weather conditions for the first few years of growth. During this time, you should remove any broken or damaged branches to encourage healthy growth.

Formative Pruning

Formative pruning refers to the initial pruning of a young tree to establish its shape and structure. For a River Red Gum, formative pruning should occur during the first three to five years of growth. The objective of formative pruning is to create a dominant leader and remove any weak or crossing branches. This will encourage the tree to grow strong, healthy branches that can support its weight as it matures.

Crown Lifting

Crown lifting involves removing the lower branches of a tree to create clearance for vehicles, pedestrians, and buildings. For a River Red Gum, crown lifting should occur no earlier than six years after planting. The ideal height for crown lifting depends on the intended use of the area beneath the tree. For example, if the area is for pedestrian traffic, crown lifting should be done to a height of 2.5 to 3 meters. If the area is for vehicle traffic, crown lifting should be done to a height of 4 to 5 meters.

Crown Thinning

Crown thinning involves removing a percentage of the tree’s branches to improve light penetration and air movement. For a River Red Gum, crown thinning should occur every three to five years once the tree reaches maturity. The ideal percentage of branches to remove depends on the tree’s size and location. Generally, no more than 30% of the tree’s foliage should be removed in a single pruning session.

Deadwooding

Deadwooding is the removal of dead or dying branches from a tree. This type of pruning is essential for the health and safety of the tree and its surrounding environment. Deadwooding should occur regularly throughout the tree’s life, and any dead or dying branches should be removed as soon as possible to prevent the spread of disease.

Branch Removal

Sometimes, it is necessary to remove a branch from a tree due to damage, disease, or safety concerns. When removing a branch from a River Red Gum, it is important to make a clean cut just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is the swollen area where the branch meets the trunk, and leaving this intact helps the tree heal properly.

Pollarding

Pollarding is a severe pruning technique that involves removing all branches from the tree’s trunk. This technique is used to control the tree’s size and shape, and should only be done every three to five years on young trees. For River Red Gums, pollarding is not recommended, as it can lead to weak growth and reduced lifespan.

Checklist for Pruning a River Red Gum
  1. Choose the right location for planting.
  2. Keep the tree watered and protected from extreme weather during the first few years of growth.
  3. Remove any broken or damaged branches during the first few years of growth.
  4. Establish a dominant leader during formative pruning.
  5. Remove weak or crossing branches during formative pruning.
  6. Crown lift to the appropriate height based on the intended use of the area beneath the tree.
  7. Crown thin every three to five years once the tree reaches maturity if required at all.
  8. Deadwood regularly throughout the tree’s life, removing any dead or dying branches as soon as possible. When removing a branch, make a clean cut just outside the branch collar to help the tree heal properly.
  9.  Avoid pollarding or tree topping, as it can lead to weak growth and reduced lifespan in River Red Gums.
Interesting Facts about the River Red Gum
  1. The River Red Gum is one of the most widely distributed eucalyptus species in Australia, and can be found in every mainland state.
  2. This tree is an important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including koalas, possums, and bats.
  3. The wood of the River Red Gum is highly valued for its durability and is often used for furniture, flooring, and construction.
Links for Further Reading
  1. The Australian National Botanic Gardens – Eucalyptus camaldulensis: https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2005/eucalyptus-camaldulensis.html
  2. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development – River Red Gum: https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/plants-animals/plants-and-plant-biology/forest-trees/river-red-gum
  3. Forest and Wood Products Australia – Eucalyptus camaldulensis: https://www.fwpa.com.au/images/resources/technical-notes/PN01.1402_Eucalyptus_camaldulensis_-_River_Red_Gum.pdf
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