On a recent trip to a woodland in southern England I came across a beech tree that had been rent asunder by winter gales. The tree had a large fork and one of its stems had broken causing the entire trunk to split open, all the way to the ground. What caught my eye from afar was the shocking vibrancy of the freshly exposed wood inside the stem. It was almost an iridescent orange and contrasted beautifully with the bright green smooth bark.
On closer inspection, it became clear that damage some distance further up along the limb had allowed rot to set in, causing a structural weakness in the forked stem. Unusually though, the stem had then split halfway through and its weight had then pulled the entire forked stem away from the main stem, rather than simply splitting near to the original weakness.
Discussing this with the woodland owner I learnt that they have no intention to manage the tree as it is not accessible by the general public and therefore of low risk. I’m not an arboriculturist but I would be interested if any readers have some experience of this type of split. I’ve no idea either how a forester/arboriculturist would go about dealing with this if it was necessary. The amount of tension present would present a tremendous (sorry couldn’t resist it) hazard, and the partially hung limb a further complication.