I've been learning about collecting dead wood from trees which are easy enough to identify in summer (lack of leaves) but is there a way of identifying dead wood that also works in winter?

  • 2
    Bend the end and see if it snaps
    – paparazzo
    Sep 19, 2016 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


I find this fairly easy, but not as easy to explain. Knowing the types of trees and how they usually look helps a lot, dead branches will usually stand out a fair bit in my experience.

  • Loss of bark.
  • If having a closer look, check if there are healthy looking buds, in many species they fall off or dry out if the branches are dead.
  • Lack of thinnest branches, these may have already broken of by colliding into other branches by the wind.

  • Fungi, if there's fungi the wood is usually dead or dying, but possibly not dry.

If you're not sure .. it's not very damaging to peel of a little bit of bark or bend a branch a little bit to see whether it's still elastic or not.

  • 1
    in winter bending does not work. The wood is frozen and green wood breaks just like dead wood.
    – njzk2
    Sep 19, 2016 at 14:15
  • I haven't experienced that in central Europe, how cold are we talking about here ? Winter doesn't necessarily imply deep frost, but I hadn't considered it.
    – Samuel DR
    Sep 19, 2016 at 14:51
  • around here we are talking around between -15ºC and -20ºC (with warmer days at -10, and colder days down to -30)
    – njzk2
    Sep 19, 2016 at 14:57

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