Tree care and Visual Tree Assessment

Troubleshooting and disease identification

Visual Tree Assessment, or VTA, uses the skills and experience of the arboriculturalist to visually ‘read’ the tree. The Body Language of Trees is a book based on papers written by Claus Mattheck. It examines the decay processes that affect trees through different diseases, fungi and physical trauma and the trees’ observable responses to them.

For example a pocket of decay at any point on the trunk or limb may be hard to spot, but sometimes the tree grows compensatory growth at the weakened area at an accelerated rate to try to outgrow the rate of decay. This will present as a bulge that is observable. If the tree can keep up with the rate of decay under normal conditions the tree or branch is sustainable. If it can’t some form of remedial management pruning can be undertaken to mitigate the weakness or it may fail at that point.

The stresses that affect trees are many and varied. The signals the tree presents to the trained eye range from blindingly obvious to barely recognizable.

Deadwood in a mature tree is a common feature. The position and quantity of the deadwood may indicate an underlying issue challenging the trees health and sustainability.

Naturally occurring secondary growth within the canopy of a tree is common. Vertical shoots along the top of a long horizontal or near horizontal branch may indicate that the branch is close to failure. The tree is preparing itself for the time when the branch does fail so it has some shoots ready to go wherever the break occurs.

Similarly the absence of any secondary internal growth may indicate the tree is in decline owing to a pathogenic fungus affecting the roots of cambium.


Our assessments are based on professional experience and expert observation at the time of the inspection. No liability can be assumed to rest with Jenks should conditions alter after our inspections.

Trees are dynamic organic structures and as such can never be guaranteed as 100% safe. Even healthy trees can fail in extreme weather but regular management and assessment can minimize the potential for partial or total failure.