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Killing Trees using Copper Nails?

Discussion in 'Trees' started by alex-adam, May 18, 2013.

  1. alex-adam

    alex-adam Super Gardener

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    I have heard that driving a number of copper nails around the trunk of a tree the nails will kill the tree, presumably by some chemical reaction. Anyone had experience of this method, - does it work?
    I am not intending to kill off any of my trees, but interested in any information.

    a-a
     
  2. Marley Farley

    Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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    Hi alex.. In a word.. No..!!! No it is a myth.. According to my S in Ls years as a tree surgeon he has come across the "copper nail" myth many times. Some years ago, when cutting up the trunk of a poplar, I he came across a ring of copper nails. Several inches inside the wood, the tree had enclosed them and carried on growing with no ill effects.. ;)
     
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    • Scrungee

      Scrungee Well known for it

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      My Local Authority's arboriculturalist used to find copper nails in protected trees that were in the way of proposed developments and some of them were in a bad way, but the perpetrators could well have been using additional means such as concealed drilling, Glyphosate/Copper Sulphate/Ammonium Sulphamate/Etc., then plugging the hole and that could have been responsible.

      But that was large trees and I've tapped a small copper nail into the likes of very small ash/elders growing in awkward places such as the junction between walls and paving that made grubbing up the roots impossible, and it worked.
       
    • Marley Farley

      Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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      Hmmm well, very amounts of copper might dissolve and pass into the sap flowing up through the trunk, maybe in a small immature tree perhaps Scrungee but plants are quite tolerant of low concentrations - in fact copper is actually needed by plants, as a component of some proteins essential for photosynthesis. And high concentrations of copper salts have long been used to spray on plants as effective fungicides (e.g. Bordeaux mixture - copper sulphate and lime). At best the copper object may help to inhibit fungal attack near the wound, which would usually heal with time. Of course the copper could be a problem later if the tree is sawn for timber.. :gaah: Although I know yours wasn't Scrungee, ;) I am more inclined to think it was disease spread from the wound you made not the copper in the nail... ;)
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      I've used this method to kill ivy, when I couldn't reach to chop or saw it, it kills fairly thick ivy stems. It takes a while, I should imagine it wouldn't kill a mature tree.
       
    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      So you could reach to bang a nail in it, but couldn't cut it off with a hammer and chisel??:biggrin:

      After this I would be suspicious of anyone who owns copper nails.
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Too big to chop with a chisel pete, I reckon the stem was 8" diameter or more :)
       
    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      Blimey, that was a big one.:)
       
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      • Scrungee

        Scrungee Well known for it

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        chainsaw.gif
         
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        • alex-adam

          alex-adam Super Gardener

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          By way of an experiment I have driven copper nails into a small unwanted piece of ivy growing againt the fence - results will of course be posted here.

          a-a
           
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          • Derbyshire

            Derbyshire Gardener

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            Yes copper nails do work on smaller trees/plants.
             
          • Kristen

            Kristen Under gardener

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            But if you kill the tree then what? You have a dead tree that is a liability in wind etc, and also if the nails have been grown-over, or are not easily seen, they can cause risk to life & limb when cutting the tree with a chainsaw.

            If the tree has to go then chop it down would be my advice :)
             
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