Bad Trees for Hurricanes — Three Pitfalls to Avoid

August 28, 2012 | By | Comments (9)
Fallen Tree

No, you won’t be parking there! Photo by Bob Jagendorf.

Hurricane Season 2012 is officially here! One of the rotten things hurricanes do is knock down trees. One of the even rottener things is knocking down trees on your house. How can you avoid this dire fate? Take the following advice from Grumpy.

Don’t Plant These Trees Near Your House
The following trees grow big enough to do serious damage and are also prone to falling in high winds due to their weak wood or branching structure. (By the way, the storm doesn’t have to be a hurricane. A thunderstorm or blizzard will splinter bad trees too.)

  • Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia). Widely planted in Florida. Mistake!
  • Box elder (Acer negundo). Crappy tree anywhere.
  • Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’). Breaks in half when a butterfly sneezes.
  • Elms (Ulmus sp.). Good street trees though.
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). No one plants these — they just inherit them.
  • Hickories (Carya sp.)
  • Laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia). Plant live oak instead. It takes the wind.
  • Pecan (Carya illinoiensis). Beautiful tree, just not near the house.
  • Poplars (Populus sp.). Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) not included.
  • Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Red maple (Acer rubrum)
  • Silver maple (Acer saccharinum). You’ll pay for its fast growth.
  • Water oak (Quercus nigra). Mistletoe loves it.
  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina). Gets huge in Florida. Makes homeowners cry.
  • White pine (Pinus strobus)
  • Willows (Salix sp.). Grumpy hates all of them.

Don’t Ignore Big, Dead Trees
Big, dead trees are going to fall down. The only questions are when and in what direction. If a dead tree on your property falls on someone else’s house, car, or head, you could be sued. So ask yourself this: Do you feel lucky?

Don’t Overlook These Danger Signs
Most trees that fall or break in half aren’t dead. Some are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many others, though, have hidden flaws that make them prone to fall. If you see any of the following signs, have a licensed arborist examine the tree and determine whether you should remove it.

  • A hollow trunk or cavity at the base. A solid trunk gives the tree strength. A hollow trunk is just waiting to break in two.
  • A vertical strip of sunken or absent bark on one side of the tree. This could be a sign that the tree has been struck by lightning and is slowly dying.
  • Mushrooms growing from the bark. Mushrooms grow on dead wood. Dead wood is weak wood.
  • Lots of dead branches near the top. This usually indicates a tree that’s dying. It just hasn’t officially kicked the bucket yet.


  1. Maple | Find Me A Cure

    […] Bad Trees for Hurricanes – Three Pitfalls to Avoid […]

    June 6, 2014 at 11:24 pm
  2. Steve Bender

    You make a good point. Thanks.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:12 am
  3. Schmoo

    Steve, I am in MD and during our “freak” storm earlier in the summer, a lot of tulip poplars in the woods near my office suffered a LOT of damage and left many broken branches. I would say do not plant tulip poplars close to the house, either. They’re native, but also weak.

    September 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm
  4. Steve Bender

    NEVER TOP TREES! THAT IS GRUMPY’S TOTALLY CORRECT OPINION. Topping disfigures trees, leads to rot and weak branches, and ultimately makes trees more prone to storm damage.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm
  5. Steve Bender

    That’s a good suggestion!

    If you maintain a healthy tree, chances are it won’t fall.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm
  6. Linda Davis

    I have a Water Oak in my backyard that is close to the house. I do keep it trim so it isn’t too big. Pine trees were my main problem with storms as lightening hit a huge one splitting it down the middle, then jumping to the phone wire to come through my house in 2004

    August 29, 2012 at 9:21 am
  7. Ed Milhous

    You might encourage tree owners to get competent assistance; go to: to find an independent professional.

    August 29, 2012 at 7:47 am
  8. Fran

    Dear Steve: Could you share your thoughts on topping trees please. We have an asian pear, an apple, and a pear tree that were topped because owner did not want them to get too tall but I thought that trees should never be topped. Sure would appreciate your expert opinion. Thanks.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm
  9. Lyn Bradley

    From “THE TREE LADY” – The Tree Lady,LLC., Daytona, Fl.
    Help me encourage people to become more aware and considerate of the condition of their property and the responsibility of it’s ownership, with maintenance concerns. So many people don’t trim, elevate, remove trees of need. Endangering their own homes and property of others. In the state of Florida, if the tree hangs over your property line it is YOUR responsibility to maintain and protect your property. Heart rot, lichens disease are running wild here and hollowing out and rotting off is at an all time high, becauce of the climatic changes. We are loosing more than we plant. Maintenance will help. Elevation will maintain health and in most cases, the safety of proprerty.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

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