Wine Glass Tree Roots

A storm-felled beech tree, pointing from southwest to northeast.

Most people imagine trees have roots that plunge down and then spread out, with a shape similar to the tree’s canopy above the ground.

In fact most trees have roots that are much shallower than many would guess.

The famed ‘tap root’ is more common in smaller plants and rarely visible in mature trees. In tree species that have a tap root, like oaks, it is only significant when the tree is a sapling.

The best analogy I know to describe the shape of tree roots is this:

‘Think of a wine glass buried up to the stem’.

Like most storm-felled trees, this beech has come down with a storm from the prevailing wind direction, which in the UK is from the southwest.

Wine glass tree roots
A classic example of ‘wine glass tree roots’

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The Tree Root Compass

What’s the Difference Between Windthrow and Windsnap in Trees