> The previous owner of our property had strung a wire clothesline
> between two deciduous oaks. I have removed the main line, but the
> circle of wire on each tree has already disappeared into the bark, and
> I've made no attempt so far to remove it.
If the wire has already disappeared into the bark then:
1) the damage is already done
2) it was not sufficient to kill the tree, and the injury is already
healed, or well on the way.
The reason for this is that the wire didn't disappear under the bark all at
once, but rather a little here, a little there over a period of years. By
the time it started in one place, the process was over and healing begun in
others. So there was not a time when the entire circumference was
disrupted, and the tree simply grew around the problem.
You are lucky: the chain of events wouldn't always work that way.
> The trees now seem healthy, but I'm concerned about preserving them --
> they are handsome, 20-year-old specimens. Will the embedded wire
> cause death through girdling as the trees continue to grow?
As indicated above, no.
> If so,
> should I try to remove the wire? This will necessarily involve
> damaging the bark, and I am concerned that the "cure" may be as bad as
> the disease.
This would kill the trees by completely girdling them, so the cure would be
much worse than the disease.
You might want to cut out any sections still showing at the surface, but
definitely don't try to to remove anything already covered with bark.
"Those who do not learn the lessons of science fiction are condemned to