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Carving Initials Into A Tree May Be Permanent Mistake

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(credit:  Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Carving a heart into a tree is very old fashioned, but it has a lot in common with today’s technology too – short messages made on impulse that can last a long time – and even come back to bite you.

If you see initials carved in a tree, it’s usually a beech; our American beech has a silvery smooth bark that’s been a tempting canvas for centuries. Cute as it seems, it’s not great for the tree, as when any bark is breeched, it’s a path for pathogens and insects to get in.

Although beech trees often live hundreds of years with sweet hearts and initials marked on their bark, it’s not always a love note you see; as we found when removing ivy from a beech trunk – angry epithets carved decades ago.

Just like other expressions of undying love or hate that can be embarrassingly enduring – a tattoo or even a tweet – in years to come, you may well regret any message you carve into bark, whether it kills the tree or not.

More information on beeches here: www.PSU.edu/dept/nkbiology.

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