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Coppicing

When a Eucalyptus leaf falls a small shaft of tissue with bud producing properties grows outwards at the same rate as the mother stem. This has the potential to produce shoots but is prevented from so doing by the effect of substances made by the upper leaves and shoots. When these are removed or destroyed so too is the inhibition, and these dormant buds will produce new shoots from the stem. Coppicing overcomes this inhibition by cutting back the stem above the ground. The position of the dormant buds on the stem corresponds with the original position of the base of the leaves before they fell. Since the distance between leaves increases as the young plant grows there is a greater amount of shaft producing tissue nearer the stem base and therefore more dormant buds will break at this position than slightly higher up the stem.

Coppicing is necessary if you require the juvenile foliage for cut foliage, or to keep a tall species small, or for biomass production. E. delegatensis, fraxinoides, nitens, debeuzevillei, niphophila and pauciflora have poor coppicing ability. Although the last three species mentioned may regrow from their underground stem swelling (lignotuber) if cut back. All the other species offered will respond to being cut back. Cut back to the stump, removing all side branches from the beginning of March to end of April. Never do this in the autumn as heavy frosts can cause separation of the bark from the stump. Do not do this until the tree has made two full seasons growth and the stem diameter is at least 5cm (2 inches). This is an indication that the tree has made a good enough root system to regenerate well and that it will not be struggling to revive. There are two preferred heights for different purposes.


1) For juvenile or cut foliage: cut at about 45cm (18 inches) from the ground with a slightly sloping cut facing south. Remove all side shoots. After about a month the dormant buds break all the way up the stump and the young shoots can be seen by about six weeks. These develop vigorously during July/August/September because of the already substantial established root system and there will be very many 0.6-1.2 metres (2-4ft) long. Shoots from the upper buds may develop more vigorously than the lower buds and this gives the variation in regrowth length. The foliage can either be cut from the stump between October and March when the shoots have hardened off or left another full season and repeat the procedure.

2) To restore a tree that has grown 'leggy', or leaning, or is unstable, or is too tall, or for biomass production: Quite old and large trees can be treated this way. If the stump is cut too high the chances of survival over the long term is less. Conversely if cut at ground level the bark may loosen. In this case the recommended height is 10 to 13cm (4 to 5 inches) above the ground. Make a smooth cut slanting slightly to the south to facilitate water run-off. The coppice shoots develop from the dormant buds in the live bark or from lignotuberous buds near the junction of the root and stem. A great many shoots grow from the stump but they gradually thin themselves out. Finally two or three remain and the best may be selected. Stems grown on the windward side are preferred as they are less likely to be windthrown. As mentioned the upper buds develop more vigorously and soon suppress the lower ones. If the purpose is to allow the plant to regrow to a tree the callous developing some distance up the stem is weaker and cannot give such good support to a new trunk therefore these shoots are less stable. The developing callous must grip the top of the stump for good stability.

E.subcrenulata E.nicholii