Trees on left have distinct lean, no others nearby do

This was observed in Florida.The trees on the left have a distinct lean to them, but none of the other trees in the area are leaning, why is this?

I'm not sure what other information is pertinent or what else I should look for.

  • $\begingroup$ Could it be that this location is in close proximity to the sea and that the sea (or a large lake) is located to the right of the picture? $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Mar 28, 2017 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ How far away from the ocean are these trees? $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @kmm Not close to the ocean. There is a small lake not terribly close (800ft). I'll have to check how much it aligns with direction of leaning. $\endgroup$
    – NotAGenie
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Related: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/35622/… $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


There are several reasons as to why a tree might lean. Normally, it is a combination of some/all of the points below:

  • Weight distribution: Depending on the diameter of the trunk and especially the height of a tree, gravity can create problems. So the main question is how the weight of the crown is distributed over the tree's trunk.
  • Species variability: Different species of trees have different root systems, some go deeper and others don't. The depth and width of the root system are factors to consider when assessing a leaning tree.
  • Environmental factors: There are a variety of environmental factors that will contribute to a tree leaning. For example, a tree that leans because it has grown towards the sun often has a curved trunk. The trunk curves due to the tree's ability to adapt over time to the changing availability of sunlight. Its root system will grow to accommodate the “off center” weight distribution, up to a point. Additionally, storms or constant wind can obviously cause a tree to lean.
  • Structural damage: Leaning trees that don’t have a “sweep” (caused by wind) but tend to have a fairly straight trunk generally have a history of structural damage to the root system or storm damage that has caused the root system to slip, break, sink or simply fail to support the tree in some fashion. If the trunk appears to enter the ground without a mound of soil on the side away from the lean, then the root system has sunk, either from rot, mechanical fracture, physical cutting of the root plate or soil subsidence. If the mound does exist on the back side of the lean, that's a sign that the root plate is being tipped out of the ground and the roots have failed - either through mechanical wounding or structural failure. As roots break under stress from wind or off center crown weight pushing the trunk away from the soil holding the roots, the up-wind side of the root plate will tip out of the ground.

In addition, it may be worth mentioning that time plays an important role here too. Older trees will have been exposed to the forces of nature and plant pathogens for longer than younger ones so it certainly makes sense to take the life cycle of a tree into consideration, some live longer than others and thus may have been subject to wind while the other surrounding trees weren't "tall" enough to shield off any of the wind etc.

Sources: Georgia Forestry Commission - Leaning Trees - What's up with that

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting stuff, I'll have to look at the ages of trees nearby. What really struck me is how spatially localized the phenomenon is though, maybe some sort of localized weather effect. $\endgroup$
    – NotAGenie
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:44

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