“Sudden Summer Limb-Drop Syndrome,” etc.


Oak trees may be dropping limbs for another reason besides broken sprinkler systems at city parks.

Several trees at Victory Park have dropped large limbs. In the context of the city’s broken park sprinkler systems, and the dying grass, it’s tempting to attribute the limb drops to lack of irrigation.

There may be another cause. The Valley oaks in the park that dropped limbs may be cases of Sudden Summer Limb-Drop Syndrome, said consulting arborist Jack Gianelli.

“These trees begin to imbibe excessive amounts of water because they’re losing water through their leaves through “evapotranspiration,” Gianelli said, using a whale of a word. “That creates too much weight, especially on a long, lateral branch. It just falls because of its own weight.”

That syndrome, however, is limited to oaks. Other trees, too, have dropped huge limbs. In part this may owe to years of drought during which the city conserved water by cutting park and sports field irrigation 30 percent. In part it may owe to the elimination of all city tree maintenance crews but the one that cuts down dead and hazardous trees.

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Reader Don Berndt says the dying greenery is the wrong issue:

“I figure that is a very small fish in a sea of Victory Park. There’s much, much bigger issues than that situation. For instance, all the homeless — dirty, filthy, people that live in the park day and  night, with their dirty clothes , sleeping bags, shopping carts. The homeless are right next to the walkway at Haggin Museum. … I don’t feel safe walking in there by myself, let alone take my children there.”

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Keven Huber, CEO of The Grupe Co., comments:

“If park walkers are looking for an alternative place to walk where the grass is still green, the lake beautiful, and the World Peace Rose Garden is in bloom, University Park offers a wonderful Sanctuary in the City. It’s a very pedestrian friendly campus.

Check out the discovery trail:





P.S. We don’t use the phrase “on the Fritz”…

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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