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  #1  
Old June 18th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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jogardener jogardener is offline
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Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

Last year we renovated our back yard and enquired at our local garden centre as to the type of tree that would be appropriate to plant in our backyard as a shade tree, taking into account the soil conditions, proximity to our house, etc. The liquid amber was highly recommended, yet recently we came across some information that would lead us to believe that the liquid amber roots can become quite a problem -- most of the information indicated that the problems were with trees grown in California. I am just wondering if the same problems will effect these trees grown in the lower mainland of B.C. Or perhaps if the "problem" liquid amber trees grown in California may be different than the ones available in B.C.
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  #2  
Old August 2nd, 2006, 03:42 PM
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HortLine HortLine is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

Hi there,
Sounds like you have a tree in the genus Liquidambar. Great tree.
The most common varieties grow to 25 meters with a 10 meter spread, so it can be quite a large tree for a backyard depending on how much space you have.
As far as root problems, the only thing we've found says that their surface roots can crack sidewalks and create a nuisance in lawns.
There is nothing to indicate that the Liquidambar grown in California would be any different than what we grow here, as the largest species can grow here just like they can down there.
Cheers!
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  #3  
Old August 19th, 2006, 04:04 PM
angelyne angelyne is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

I just watched a show on TLC. They showed a couple in california whose has has literally been invaded by a liquid amber tree. After spending $25,000 on the problem without solving it, the only thing left is either bulldoze the entire house, or spend $700,000.00 to have the entire foundation excavated and the slab replaced
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 03:14 PM
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Dixie Dixie is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

I wouldn't blame it on the tree, I would place blame on whoever planted it close enough to a house to cause $700,000 worth of damage. I like this tree, great fall color. I would recommend a fruitless kind if in an area where there is much foot traffic. The spikey fruits can be hazardous ankle breakers!
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  #5  
Old August 22nd, 2006, 11:08 PM
RadioRon RadioRon is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

My wife also saw that show and described it to me. We are quite puzzled. Those on the show clearly identified the tree as a Liquidamber and my wife says that the leaf shape and bark texture appeared to match that of our own liquidamber out on our front lawn. On the show, they said that this type of tree has aggressive suckers that travel in all directions much like some invasive bamboo and cannot be easily killed off by simply removing the tree itself. This highly aggressive suckering was something entirely new and a big surprise to us, so much so that I suspect those on the show got it all wrong. Apparently, when they dug up around the house's foundation they discovered roots as large as 14 inches diameter and some large roots were seen to be going under the foundation and were cracking the slab inside the foundation! I know there are a number of different sweetgums like Palo Alto and American and so on, but I really wonder what it is that they were talking about. None of our books describe the sweetgum as invasive or aggressive and we have never been warned away from it at a nursery. In fact, professional arborists seem to favor cultivars of this species as a boulevard tree and they are seen all over the lower mainland on the sides of the roads. I don't believe the pros would be planting a highly invasive tree on boulevards.

So what gives?

Ron
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  #6  
Old August 23rd, 2006, 03:24 AM
Rima Rima is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

Who said the pros planted it? BUT, I saw that show too, and also questioned that it was a liquidambar, and they may just have gotten it all wrong (taken the name from the son of the show's producer rather than a nursery person!). There have been more glaring errors perpetrated on television by ... decorating people, 'master gardeners', etc. than you could imagine. They couldn't actually care (or know) less about plants, but are just doing a TV show and have different priorities.
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  #7  
Old September 23rd, 2007, 12:07 PM
nmpeter nmpeter is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

You bet!..I just saw this show on TLC and those are some rather agressive roots. I'd avoid putting one of those anywhere near my poperty, as the roots are propagating and even cutting the tree down won't stop it! The runners once extablished just cannot be stopped inexpensively. A real eye opener for me. Never heard of this tree before.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

If concentrated Round-Up applied to the stump of newly removed Populus species effectively kills the tree and prevents new root sprouts, there should be no reason why it wouldn't work on a Liquidamber.

There are potentially other factors at play here. A house with a basement is not going to be as vulnerable as a slab house. Tree roots in a much drier California are going to more agressively gravitate to moister pockets of soil. Perhaps the owners of the California house had a problem with their sewer pipes below the slab?
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  #9  
Old September 24th, 2007, 06:41 AM
nmpeter nmpeter is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

from what the show talked about, even after cutting the main tree down any existing roots would put up shoot, so I would suspect you'd have to dump a few gallons of round up around to deal with it. A home that was treated two years previous was displayed..and it was "still" a problem. I had a trash tree of some sort get between a wall and foundation of my previous home and I was never actually able to effectively kill it, even with scorched earth tactics..rock salt eventually killed it, but nothing grew in the garden on the other side of the slab either.

The affected house had serious invasion ( I'm talking 8-12 inch multiple roots) problems before it was even noticed. A real heartbreaker of a story, try to catch it, I think the name was "this house has to go"

There was a pool on the property and no doubt this golden amber smells water...Nice looking tree I'd say however, but I'll take my pin oak any day over that problem.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

it is all about placement. i don't think this tree should be totally dismissed. maybe perhaps in a small residential setting it isn't appropriate, but in a larger open park-like setting it can be great. it is native where i am located, and is a very lovely tree in the fall. maybe the tree isn't to blame, but the person who chooses to plant it in potentially problematic area (near a structure). yes, i do agree that certain h&g shows could use some education. we watch several on sunday mornings and a lot of the times i am yelling at the tv, "why would they do that"?
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  #11  
Old September 24th, 2007, 07:53 AM
nmpeter nmpeter is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

placement is everything, I could see this tree being a good idea on a hill where erosion is a problem.

These home improvement and flip shows are getting some people in big trouble, not to mention that when I was selling my home, I had to deal with a series of rude and insulting buyers who could only spout HGTV buzzwords when making offers 20-30% under my asking. At least now they are updating some of these flips showing it wasn't all quick cash and great times.

Getting off the topic however..

Knowing your landscaping is really important. I was excited about having two _giant_evergreen trees on my property, until I realized the needles are not a trade off for leaves...

I'm much wiser these days knowing how aggressive some plants are given the right conditions.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

I saw this show yesterday too. My eyes nervously darted to the enormous liquid amber outside the kitchen window... and as sidewalks are rising up all over the neighborhood I'm going to place my faith that they did have the tree right and try to find a solution.

The offending tree was 70+ feet away, so placement was not the issue. They're all over the neighborhood in San Jose. Placement, and who put it in is a moot point anyway. I have no control over it, the tree was put in by the city because some idiot official who knew nothing about trees decided "let's go with cheap and fast growing..." and I'll get fined if I cut it down.

But it got me to thinking--Did the tree on this show go crazy because it was cut down? The homeowners on the show had cut it over 2 1/2 years ago. I was wondering if the roots went wild, trying to find a place to shoot up a new tree. Any logic to that?
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  #13  
Old September 24th, 2007, 01:18 PM
nmpeter nmpeter is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

the 2.5 year tree was another house, that was showing that the roots seem to have a mind of their own even after the tree is cut down.

Who is responsible when a sidewalk lifts due to a city tree?..that's a huge liability for a trip/fall issue. I'd be on that doubly quick. In my previous home town in NJ, the city reimbursed you if you had the one approved company come and fix it, if roots had to be cut, only this one company could do it ( sweet deal eh?)

No being an aborist, my swag is that a growing tree is always looking to sock in a good supply of water, hence the root sprawl, shoots come up when the supply of sunlight is cut off ( like when the tree is cut back hard or removed) since without sunlight..ni food production.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 03:15 PM
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PamelaAnne View Post
Placement, and who put it in is a moot point anyway. I have no control over it, the tree was put in by the city because some idiot official who knew nothing about trees decided "let's go with cheap and fast growing..." and I'll get fined if I cut it down.
i was actually refering to the tree mentioned in the tv show, not yours. i should have quoted the person who made the post.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 03:21 PM
Robert Feller Robert Feller is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

OK, now you've got me thinking (worrying). We live in Southern California and have THREE Liquid Amber Trees planted in close proximity (within 5 feet of each other) in our front yard. I'm guessing they are ~20 years old and the roots are now really starting to show on the surface. They are pretty high close to the base of the tree and branch out over the yard. The 3 trees are clumped about 15 feet from our garage. We just finished a HUGE remodel over the garage, but by the sounds of your posts, we are in for an expensive and damaging future, right? I'm guessing if we grind down the exposed roots to try and level the yard for new grass, we are facing the possibility of a) killing off the trees, b) weakening the trees which will compromise their strength to stand, therefore risking the possibility of falling on ours or the neighbor's house, right?

Thanks for any help!
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  #16  
Old July 20th, 2009, 04:03 PM
kaspian kaspian is offline
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Re: Liquid Amber Tree -- problem roots?

This is apparently a species (assuming we are, in fact, all talking about the same tree: the North American native Liquidambar styraciflua) whose growth habits vary widely, perhaps in response to varying environmental conditions. Someone suggested above that a tree growing in California might be more aggressive in seeking out moisture than one grown someplace else. I'd say this is probably true.

A row of Liquidambar were planted as street trees on the block in Norfolk, Virginia, where I lived as a young child. I remember the trees were about twice as tall as our house, so probably 40-50 feet. They'd been pruned so that the lowest limbs were perhaps 15-20 feet above the ground. They were NOT lifting sidewalks or cracking pavement or anything like that. The only problem I remember was that it was nearly impossible to grow grass in the immediate vicinity of the tree -- evidently the roots were close enough to the surface as to suck up all the available water and nutrients. But other established trees growing nearby seemed to be unaffected. And there was certainly no suckering going on.

But that was Norfolk.
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