UKTC Archive

neighbouring tree roots and RPAs

Subject: neighbouring tree roots and RPAs
From: Jasper Fulford-Dobson
Date: Mar 03 2021 09:45:12
Has anyone else heard of the assertion that the roots of neighbouring trees 
present a significant physical barrier to each other with regards to the 
shape/extent/pattern of RPAs?

If there is any merit in this theory and how would it work for trees in 
closely spaced groups or woodlands?

My brief investigations into any science or common sense behind this has 
concluded the following: -

It seems to be widely accepted that roots can merge and even graft together 
(inosculation) to form rigid, interlocked systems, both within a single root 
system and between neighbouring trees of the same or differing species 
(Graham & Bormann 1966, Epstein 1977, Basnet et al 1993, Sprugel 2011 and 
Hirons 2018). Add to this the recognised theory of pathogenic transmission 
between root systems together with the complex and potentially vast nature of 
underground mycorrhizal associations and it becomes clear that attempting to 
draw an accurate picture of the exact rooting pattern for every given tree 
(particularly those in woodlands or closely spaced groups in urban sites with 
myriad man made structural barriers) is pure guestimation, even for an 
experienced arborist.

The narrative of the precise shape of such a polygon shaped RPA could 
therefore go on ad-infinitum right?

Any advice or feedback gratefully received.



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