What does Girdling mean?

Girdling is the removal of a strip of bark around the entire circumference of a tree or woody shrub.

A tree’s nutrients travel through the bark to nourish the entire tree. Girdling cuts off interaction between the roots and the leaves, depriving parts of the tree of nutrients so that the tree or branch above the girdle will die.

Girdling may also be known as ring barking or cincturing.

More Info On Girdling

Girdling can occur naturally, or a tree or branch can be artificially girdled. Foresters often girdle trees as a form of forest management.

In a horticultural setting girdling is known as cincturing. Selective cincturing of branches is performed to increase yields on the remaining branches. Cincturing fruit trees and grape vines forces sugar from the leaves to the fruit, thus increasing their size. This is most often used in vineyards to increase the size of the grapes on the remaining portion of the vine.

Herbaceous animals, birds, and insects can also inadvertently girdle a tree by gnawing or boring holes around the circumference of a tree. In North America voles and beavers are a major source of natural girdling by chewing the roots and lower trunk.

Some invasive vines are also known to girdle trees as they wind themselves tightly around the trunk, damaging the sensitive bark.

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