Pruning your Mature Trees? No Lion-Tailing!

Lion-tailing occurs when a tree is stripped of most or all of its interior branches and foliage leaving only a minimal amount of growth at the end of the branch. Lion-tailing can be hazardous because all of the weight is concentrated on the ends of the branches and the majority of the new growth will be added to these bushy ends. If a tree’s branching structure does not support evenly distributed weight, stress is placed on the branch allowing breakage to occur in high wind events. When 50 to 75% of the foliage is removed, a tree looks unnatural and is structurally weakened. Trees need leaves to survive!

Lion-tailing can weaken a tree causing branches to break in high wind events.

Lion-tailing results in:
• End heavy branches
• Branch failure and breakage
• Sun scalding
• Rapid sucker growth
• Rotting and cracks
• Increased disease and insect vulnerability
• Severe stress

A tree can recover from lion-tailing. To restore a tree that has been over-thinned or lion-tailed, allow sprouts to develop along the branches for a few years. Your goal is to eventually develop a few sprouts into permanent branches. Remove some of the sprouts and shorten others two or three years after the tree was over-pruned making sure that the ones you leave are more or less evenly distributed along the branches. Make a special effort to keep sprouts toward the base of the main branches to develop.

Good pruning is a combination of art and science. The finished product should be understated and natural looking. At first glance, the pruning work should go unnoticed. To learn more visit




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Posted: October 10, 2018

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture
Tags: Arborist, FFL, Pruning Your Trees, Trees Are Good

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