Home Improvements

Trees With Codominant Stems: Types, Risks, And Inspection

Trees with codominant stems may look normal for an average person but there is a high risk associated with them. Codominant stems can cause trees to become unstable and tilt to one side. Trees with codominant stems require an inspection by arborist services for better management. If you are facing the same issue, we will explain the types and how you can fix the problem at hand.

What Are The Risks Of Codominant Stems?

Codominant stems are divided into different categories depending on the risk factor. To begin with, the first thing you need to check in case your tree has codominant stems is whether the union or the spot where the trunks meet is U or V-shaped.

If it happens to be a V-shape, it is more likely to fail as compared to a U-shape. A tree having a V-shape union most likely means there is a bark between the stems. As a result, the actual wood does not meet and the union is only kept together by the bark.

Furthermore, the excess bark is known as “bark inclusion”. It not only prevents a strong connection between the branches but can also collect water, debris, and organisms that might lead to tree diseases. Once you have determined the shape of the union, it is time to spot any decay.

If the union tends to decay, the tree is at risk. The more the decay, the higher the risk. If you spot fungi, rotten wood, or other unusual plants growing in the union along with swelling, it most probably means the tree is decaying. So, if you were to neglect the decay signs, the tree is more likely to fail.

In addition to the fungi, you should also check for cracks where the codominant stems meet. If there are cracks already forming, the tree is at high risk. This means that the cracks will continue spreading and will eventually make the tree or a branch lean to one side.

This could be dangerous especially if the tree or branch is near to a property. The only way to fix the issue is by pruning the branches.

Types of Codominant Stems

Now that we have discussed the risks associated with codominant stems along with the signs, let us now shift our attention to the types of codominant stems.

Small Codominant Stems

Small codominant stems are just the beginning. If you were to spot them at the start, there is a high chance you will be able to fix the issue. The best and only way to troubleshoot the problem is by determining the leader stem and pruning off the other.

The leader stem is supposed to be strong and able to carry the entire tree. If you spot any cracks, fungi, or other unusual signs, you will need to fix them first. And, if you are not able to determine the leader stem, you will need to consult an expert.

Moreover, the pruning of one of the stems reduces the likelihood of the tree tilting to one side. In such a case, you will need to keep a close eye on the pruning and maintenance of the tree so that it grows the right way.

Midrange Codominant Stems

Now this is where things could become a bit tricky. If you observe that the two stems have started to produce and develop their branches, you are left with limited choices. In this case, you cannot cut off the entire stem as it might imbalance the tree.

The best way to deal with such a situation is by pruning both sides. You will need to consult an expert in this matter who takes their time reducing the size over some time instead of doing it all at once. This technique of shortening the stem from farther up rather than just cutting at its joint is called subordination through reduction.

As a result, you can slow down the development of the stem and let the leader stem grow in a balanced way. However, during the reduction process, the tree might need slings, stakes, or other types of support.

Large Codominant Stems

Trees with large codominant trees have close to zero options. In general, if the tree is mature, there is no chance that you will be able to remove one of the two codominant stems. The simple reason is that if you were to remove one of the two stems, the remaining will simply fall to one side due to its weight.

Even if it doesn’t at the moment, it will do so in the future. The best way to handle the situation is by offering the tree some support. The type of support will depend on the structure of the tree. Cabling tends to be the most popular way, which involves drilling holes in the limbs and installing cables between them.

Keep in mind that it is simply a support system. It is not a permanent fix for the tree’s instability. The tree will still pose a risk of falling onto nearby buildings or people. All this is only possible if you are willing to put in time and effort.

Otherwise, the only possible solution is to completely remove the tree. This can be a difficult decision to take but safety should be the top priority. After deciding to cut down a tree, find tree removal services Bethesda that are skilled and affordable.

Inspecting And Managing Codominant Stems

As mentioned earlier, trees with codominant stems are a lot easier to manage if you can spot them early in the beginning. If you have a newly planted tree, you need to observe its growth pattern and determine whether it will form codominant stems.

If you think that codominant stems will form, you need to check if it is going to be a U or V-shape union. If the union is V-shaped, consider correcting or removing them. V-shaped unions are more likely to fail than U-shaped unions. So, you can consult tree services who may use cranes to safely remove the tree.

The best time to correct the union is before the tree has fully matured. If the tree is young and small, you should completely remove one of the stems. This will prevent any structural issues in the future. Plus, avoid removing any stems that exceed four inches in diameter.

This could severely damage the tree’s crown and leave a huge wound that will not fill up properly. That said, perform selective pruning. Furthermore, you can also use support to remove one of the stems to keep the process safe.

However, if there is severe decay, fungi, or other issues, you might need to remove the tree altogether and the disease will spread.

With time, the tree will become weaker and will pose a risk to nearby people and properties. Therefore, before it causes serious damage, it is better to consult an expert and either prune the tree or remove it completely.


There is no denying that dealing with trees having codominant stems could be slightly complicated. However, if you were to spot them early on, you might be able to help the tree. But if the situation is far more complicated than you think, the tree may need to be removed. So, you should call in tree cutting services Chevy Chase.

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