Girdling roots are lateral roots that emerge at or slightly below the soil surface and cut into at least one side of the main trunk. These roots restrict the movement of water and nutrients to the leaves as they put pressure on the trunk. Affected trunks/stems will eventually become weakened and the tree may die in five to fifteen years from the girdling roots alone, or in conjunction with environmental stresses or insect/disease attack. Cultural practices like fertilization, irrigation, and pruning will not offset the slow growth caused by girdled roots. Once identified, they should be treated promptly.
Bartlett: Girdling Roots
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