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<Tom Watson>
posted
I was about to order C. Mattheck's 1991 book, Trees: The Mechanical Design, when I saw that he has a 1998 book, Design in Nature. I'd like to know if the latter book covers some of the same information in the 1991 book, or if I would benefit from both. My inclination is to order both. I'd also be interested in hearing about how either or both of these books have contributed to anyone's collective tree knowledge and understanding. Thanks, Tom
 
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<Julian Dunster>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Watson, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I reviewed the Design in Nature book last year, and found it very informative but also vert technical and not for the faint of heart. Still an interesting read though.

Julian
 
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<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Watson, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I've read a few of Mattheck's works, or at least parts of them [g]. As Julian said, Design in Nature is heavy going, and not casual reading. It deals more with concepts than with trees in particular.

The best one, IMO, is Body Language of Trees. This deals with (you guessed!) trees and the concepts of the other books applied to the specific issues of arboriculture. Definitely read this one first, then go on to the others when you have a good grasp of his ideas.
 
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<Scott Cullen>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I attended one of his workshops and he offered to send reprints of the arboriculture specific articles, which he promptly did when I sent him a request. Maybe someone has an e-mail address for him... I can't locate his snail mail address of fax # at the moment.
 
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<Jerry Bond>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Watson, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I agree with Russ that Body Language is the most useful, and would add that the Stupsi books are the least, IMHO.
About what good his books have been for me: concepts like "adaptive growth" and "self-optimizing design" have helped me analyze both what I see in the field, and how I make predictions about damaged trees. It seems to me crucial to understand the mechanisms that lead to the mechanical or "apoplastic" tree, at least as crucial as those that govern the biological or "symplastic" tree.
Bottom line: I would recommend Body Language to any arborist concerned with doing accurate field diagnosis of trees, whereas I find the others are less useful and harder reading.
 
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<Tom Watson>
posted
Reply to post by Julian Dunster, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

Thanks for the great feedback. I'm instead going to order the Body Language of Trees book, as everyone suggests. I'd heard Dr. Shigo refer to Mattheck's work at a Boone, N.C. tree biology workshop, and just recently found specific titles that N. Matheny referenced in one of her books. It sounds like Matthecks offers both good information and the sort of broader perception that helps deepen understanding. And I've nothing as humbling as tree study. The more I learn, the more I'm almost overwhelmed with how much there is to be learned. With the momentum of current research still building, this an exciting time for arborists and anyone interested in learning about trees. I believe that arboriculture is entering an age of enlightenment and becoming an important new-millenium profession. Here in Atlanta, I'm sometimes amazed at how much more clients are interested in caring for their trees and learning more about how they function and grow. It's a big change from just a couple of years ago when their eyes would glaze over as I tried to tell what they needed to know to take better care of their trees. I'm also seeing a growing respect among the general public for consulting arborists, certified arborist and other arborists who are knowledgeable and ethical.
 
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<Tom Watson>
posted
Reply to post by Julian Dunster, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I accidentally sent this message prematurely a few minutes ago. This is the complete, edited message.

Thanks for the great feedback. I'm instead going to order the Body Language of Trees book, as everyone suggests. I'd heard Dr. Shigo refer to Mattheck's work at a Boone, N.C. tree biology workshop, and just recently found specific titles that N. Matheny references in one of her books.
It sounds like Mattheck offers both good information and the sort of broader perception that helps deepen understanding. And I can use all of that I can get. I've found nothing as humbling as tree study. The more I learn, the more I'm almost overwhelmed with how much there is to be learned. With the momentum of current research still building, this an exciting time for arborists and anyone interested in learning about trees.
I believe that arboriculture is entering an age of enlightenment and becoming an important new-millennium profession. Here in Atlanta, I'm often amazed at how much more clients are interested in caring for their trees and learning about how they function and grow. It's a big change from just a couple of years ago when their eyes would glaze over as I tried to tell them what they needed to know to take better care of their trees. I'm also seeing a growing respect among the general public for consulting arborists, certified arborist and other arborists who are knowledgeable and ethical. I wonder how much of this new tree appreciation can be traced to Dr. Shigo's teachings that are reaching the public through educators and arborists. The educational tool that most causes my clients to look at trees with new eyes is my display of dissected proper and improper pruning cuts.
Another trend I'm seeing is people leaving other, more white-collar careers for arboriculture, many of them former teachers, journalists, lab technicians, etc., interested in getting outside and enjoying the satisfaction of both mental and physical labor while making an environmental contribution. With more arborists now doing consulting, or consulting and actual in-the-canopy work, it seems that arboriculture is becoming a hybrid, white/blue-collar profession. It would sure be interesting to read other observations, predictions, theories, and any thoughts you might have about this. Thanks for all your help. Tom
 
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<Andrew Wood-Gaines>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Watson, on March 01, 2000 at 20:13:47:

Tom

I could not agree with you more.

Dr. Shigo came to give a lecture to our forestry
class in 1976, (myself, U of Toronto, 79). At that time
I was overwhelmed by his enthusiam. Six years
later when I started my tree service his lecture
was a mainstay in my Arborist career.(technically and ethically)
I still use the "treepaint - bandage on the finger for two weeks" metaphor.
Although I do not run tree crews anymore, I am still climbing trees (though not so fast),
but moving more towards the consulting side of it.

People are much more receptive to valid tree information.
Information that I use to give away free to get the work
Now they gladly pay for it. I am just coming to
terms with a fair hourly rate. Money does grow on
trees sometimes!

However, it is one thing for people to accept the information
It is another to implement it. Mindsets and perceptions are
a hard thing to break.( Myself included) For example, Mulching
is a hard thing to sell. People agree with the concept, but they
think that the only people that have mulched and wild gardens are
those odd folk, society dropouts,etc.

I try in Shigo's method, the metaphor, explaining that perceptions
of mulch are like the old perceptions of Lobster. It use to be a poor
person's food. Now it is a delicacy.

The icons of large estates and huge expanses of grassy greens
create these perceptions in the first place. Onto which there
is an incredible amount of economic dependency, i.e., chem-lawn, lawnranger, etc.

As I initially said, I cannot agree with you more.
however there is a tremendous economic and perceptional
resistance yet to overcome. This could get ugly when you
think about it. Hence, change will be slow.

Any help, (i.e., how to make mulch beautiful)you can offer would be appreciated.

Cheers

Andy Wood-Gaines
 
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<Bob Wulkowicz>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Watson, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:


I have a lot of problems with Mattheck's expanded works. It has been my plan to write very specific challenges to the concepts and assumptions he has offered. For now, I'll keep it simple.

Trained, traditional engineers--or physicists--are most comfortable in the world of phenomena reduced to equations, and much is to be said in support of that inclination. For me however, Mattheck tugs and pulls the issues of trees over into this often tidy world whether or not the issues fit.

For example, in the finite element method of computer analysis he provides, the hidden truth is that the analysis works on monolithic materials, steel, etc., with the stresses, failures, and propagation's of problems operating in a single type of material consistent through its mass. The photos of FEM are persuasive in that they are windows of the "new science," but they are also deceptive if they're done about apples when we're talking about oranges.

Klaus shows the corresponding stress and patterns of stress in making a hole in a homogeneous material which is to remove an amount of an area that should be available to share the loads. The patterns of stress concentration are understandable and, yes, he is teaching us valid and useful information. Engineers build that information into their designs to make better and more successful outcomes. Liberty ships were lost because of crack propagation that continued unchecked until the ship split in half and sank. The awareness of that probability lead to anticipation and reinforcement with future designs.

Mattheck expands this one attribute of monolithic materials and expands it to trees. Holes in trees are "flaws" and we can suddenly infer the structural liabilities of trees from a touch of sophomoric text on engineering equations. In same-stuff materials, there are engineering solutions--reinforcement, drilling holes in the end of a crack to spread the load, and in the last hundred years, composites and laminations. Oddly, trees thought up laminations more than a hundred million years ago.

Indeed, trees are the quintessential proponents of living composite lamination. Klaus's sense of flawed structure is quite distant from them. Mattheck, to me, stops abruptly when what he theorizes resembles an equation. See, he says, it fits--so, let's get on to the next question... I'm sorry. I have a difficult time with that especially when it's presented as dogma to an information-starved audience like those of us in the arboriculture business.

The approximation of plate steel with a hole under tension (the plate pulled at each end) has very little to do with a tree. At best, it is illustrative of a "plate steel with a hole under tension" in Engineering 101. Mattheck would have us stop at comfortable linear equations, when trees are unquestionably non-linear.

His FEM offerings also assume that growth in a tree is akin to the thermal expansion of a homogeneous material. Well, it's a shame that trees haven't read his works; they grow completely differently and the differences are so substantial that he is only giving us a great deal of simplistic misinformation instead of what we need.

I cannot, in good conscience, evaluate a tree based on his pronouncements. People would be shocked if they found out the thinness of the base from which his hollow tree failure "guidelines" are built. But in a world where we'll cut down a tree at the hint of a shadow of a lawyer, what difference does it make?

Maybe I'll present it as a paper in detail at the ISA August conference.


Bob Wulkowicz
 
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<E Brudi>
posted
Reply to post by Bob Wulkowicz, on March 01, 2000 at 10:59:10:

I understand Bob concerns concerning MAtthecks theories. We here in Germany are getting away from his stuff.
We lost so many trees for no reason.
t/r ratios just don´t fit right for a tree.
An oak tree of 70 feet height standing in an exposed area with a dense fully leaved crown
needs a stem diameter of 24 inch. If the stem of the same tree would be thicker, lets say 40 inch then need needs only a residual wall of 2 inch. Mattheck would have felled such an ancient heritage tree.

Erk
 
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<Jesse Milton>
posted
quote:
Bob Wulkowicz


Bob, you have expressed a long-held sentiment that I have carried regarding these works, but have been unable to vocalize. Mattheck's works are interesting, but mostly because it approaches the problem from a new perspective. It is mostly brain exercise.

Think of it this way: An engineer uses this theory to construct something. He uses known equations to tell him what to do. The equations work because they have been proven through years of observation. Trees are ALREADY constructed and we don't have enough history to properly use engineering equations...so using these models is coming at the problem from the wrong direction. If we seek to understand why trees fail, we should examine the problem statistically, and base our understanding on the historical data. This is why the Tree Failure Database is such an important project - it will show us what has actually happened with systems that are already constructed.
 
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