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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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        • 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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            • david56

              david56 Apprentice Gardener

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              what else can be used instead of copper nails?
               
            • Marley Farley

              Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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              Well I am not sure why you want to just kill it slowly rather than just cutting it down.. :scratch:
              Cut a ring into the bark about half an inch deep all the way round.. Just before it rains dump a load of salt around the tree so it gets to the roots.. All very hap hazard but ringing trees is known to kill them.. Salt is sneaky but will stay in the soil for quite a long time so not much else will grow there for a while..
               
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              • pete

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

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                Well, you could drill into the trunk at an angle, and then with a funnel fill the holes with SBK weedkiller, stop up the holes afterwards with putty or similar.
                But agree with Marley, just cut it down if you dont want it.
                 
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