What Causes a Tree Trunk To Split Vertically in Destin, FL?

What causes a tree trunk to split vertically? When your favorite specimen suddenly develops a crack running up its body, it’s easy to panic and wonder what went wrong.

As Destin’s tree service, our team at Backridge Tree Service has seen and dealt with many arboreal complications. Keep reading as we share the nitty-gritty details and help your living landscape spring back to health in no time.

Identifying the Culprit

The most common suspects include the following.

Frost Cracks

Some cracks form when rapid temperature changes make the outer bark contract faster than its inner wood. This creates a tension that eventually leads to vertical splitting.

The phenomenon often occurs during freezing nights followed by sunny days, so you don’t have to worry about them in Destin. The area’s winter months are fairly mild and generally lack the hot and cold fluctuations needed to create frost cracks.

Natural Growth Patterns

Certain species develop cracks to make room for expansion as they mature. It’s their natural way of balancing physical growth with structural integrity.

You commonly see this in fast-growing varieties like oaks and elms. Unless you see unusually large and deep gashes, these splits shouldn’t give you much reason for concern.


What causes a tree trunk to split vertically? If your area recently experienced a thunderstorm, you may have found your offender.

Lightning contains an immense amount of energy that can vaporize water in the trunk and split it from the sudden and intense heat. Watch out for other symptoms like shattered branches and scorched leaves.

Human Activity

It’s sometimes our own actions that lead to tree damage. Whether it’s an accidental hit with a lawnmower or construction-related stress, these mishaps can harm a specimen’s bark and make it more susceptible to splitting.

Trees are fairly resilient, but we should always take some extra care to guarantee their health and longevity.

What To Do Next

You see your tree sporting a new vertical split. What now? Consider these tree care tips:

  • Clean the wound: Smooth the edges of the crack with a sharp, clean knife to prevent further tearing and to promote proper healing.
  • Bolt it down: This is a more complex procedure, but installing three small bolts across the split can help stabilize the trunk and prevent the split from expanding.
  • Seek expert assistance: Why risk further damage when you can have a specialist assess the situation?

Your Go-To Professional Tree Services in Destin, FL

What causes a tree trunk to split vertically? If the specimen in question has sentimental value or plays a key role in your landscape design, leave it to Backridge Tree Service. Our crew will take the necessary steps to assess, treat, and prevent further damage to your tree.

We can also provide:

  • Scheduled tree trimming
  • Thorough risk assessments
  • Tree stump grinding
  • Tree removal
  • Fertilization
  • And more

Dial (850) 240-2829, or read more of our blog and learn how to prevent a tree from falling on a house, to learn more.

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