Mystery as willow trees fall and split by Honiton river

PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:58 24 August 2018

The fallen tree in Honiton.

The fallen tree in Honiton.


Willow trees have fallen and split in mysterious circumstances by the River Gissage in Honiton - but beavers are not the cause.

The fallen tree in Honiton.The fallen tree in Honiton.

The trees, on a parcel of land near Marker Way, have caused confusion on social media after falling for no apparent reason.

Councillor Roy Coombs, who is a tree warden at Honiton Town Council, said the trees were not felled by river movement or beavers, and there is no evidence of mechanical damage.

He said: “One tree has fallen.

“Whether it was helped or not, I do not know. It is quite a substantial trunk which has fallen over. We will have to look closer to see if it is fungus.”

The fallen tree in Honiton.The fallen tree in Honiton.

Cllr Coombs said there is a test where a probe is inserted into the tree to test for fungus.

He said that despite some tree trunks looking perfectly healthy on the outside, they might be hollow inside, meaning their structural integrity could be compromised.

Cllr Coombs also said the trees could have split and cracked if their branches were heavily intermingled when the initial tree fell down.

He added: “Willows do tend to fall - there is a certain species of willow which is actually called the ‘crack willow’ as they do tend to crack. However, photos do not replace seeing the trees on-site.

“If the trees are really close together, and I can see that two are, and their canopies are heavily intermingled, instead of breaking off branches when one falls, it could bring the other ones down too.

“It is obviously very sad for people who know these trees and like them, but it does happen - with willows especially.

“However, we do not know what the original cause was.”

Cllr Coombs will be visiting the site today to inspect the trees.

A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council: “Grounds staff visited the site yesterday and found that two trees had fallen.

“Both are on the ground and due to the size of them, we are calling in contractors to have them removed.”

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