Category Archives: Big Trees
Suzanne Simard talks about “mother trees” and the plant-fungal network
Good interview with one of the major researchers in the field of plant-fungi interaction. Video by Dan McKinney via the University of British Columbia on Blip.tv.
It kind of surprises me that tree communication is still news to people — witness the breathless post in Treehugger — but I guess it takes years for radical new ideas to get out there. The bit about dying trees transferring information to living trees before they die was new to me, though. And I like Dr. Simard’s use of evocative language throughout. “Mother trees” — absolutely, why not?
A story of gaps in the understory
Philadelphia has a whole host of missing trees and none are more famous than the Great Elm of Shackamaxon. Jon Spruce journeys to the hereafter and back…
At the time of its toppling, it was 283 years old, eight feet in diameter and twenty-four feet in circumference.Its final height is in dispute but, if it was still alive, and even if it hadn’t grown an inch since 1810, it would stand above us all, today, as the reigning champion elm tree of Philadelphia.Its place is commemorated with a statue of brother William Penn himself, right off Delaware Avenue, in Penn Treaty Park.
In which Ash meets… Ash!
In the second encounter of his birthday tour, Ash meet a particularly stout example of his namesake tree:
You can clearly see that our ash was once a much taller tree. Its ‘pollarding’ was severe, but the Ash today is flourishing and it has already established a fine new crown. I hope the wood-rotting fungi take it easy on the bole and roots so the tree can live out the FC’s optimistic prediction of another century or two, but there are dark clouds on the horizon in the form of Chalara fraxinea – the dreaded ash dieback that has run rampant across Europe.
How demand for wooden drinking cups diminished an ancient yew
Ash, at treeblog, gave himself a tree-tour of a birthday trip. In the first part of the journey, Birthday Tour (Part 1): Loch Rannoch – the Fortingall Yew – Bridge of Balgie, he meets a truly charismatic ancient tree in a post rich with historical illustration:
The Fortingall Yew is one of the oldest known trees in Europe. Allen Meredith (whose estimates according to The Tree Register Handbook “are as well-informed as anyone’s”) has suggested it could be as old as 5,000 years (along with the yews at Discoed in Powys and Llangernyw in Conwy), which is certainly something to think about. But what I find truly incredible is the gargantuan size it once reached. Forget the Yew as it stands today, so small, so utterly destroyed by ‘tourists’ in the 18th and 19th centuries, and try to wrap your mind around this: in the mid-1700s the Fortingall Yew had a girth of 56 and a half feet (17.2 m): a diameter of 5.5 metres (18 ft)! Consider that the thickest tree in Britain today is probably the Marton Oak with a dbh of 446 cm when measured around the three remaining sections of its trunk (although there are giant sequoias 7 m thick where their flared boles meet the ground). A five-and-a-half metre thick yew is phenomenal!
The Oak at the Gate of the Dead and the Duelling Oak
Ash at treeblog used his recent trip to the sad remains of the UK’s second biggest girthed sessile oak to visit two other large and ancient oaks in the same area:
Once I’d seen all there was to see of the uprooted Pontfadog Oak, I got back in the car and headed for home. But only a couple of miles down the road I pulled over to visit two more giant oaks: the Oak at the Gate of the Dead and the Duelling Oak. Both of these veterans grow within a stone’s throw of one another (and right close to the Wales-England border), beside the road linking Pontfadog with Chirk.
The Oak at the Gate of the Dead (Derwen Adwy’r Meirwon in Welsh) is famous, at least locally, for growing at the Pass of the Graves (Adwy’r Beddau). This is thought to be the place where in 1165, during the Battle of Crogen, the forces of Henry II of England were ambushed by the Welsh under Owain Gwynedd.
Naked treehugger Julianne Skai Arbor lends support to the protection of old growth on Vancouver Island
Tragically, people are not connecting our everyday modern consumptive lifestyle with the true cost we are paying for our wood and paper products: habitat destruction and fragmentation, soil erosion, hydrologic disruption, water siltation, wildfire hazards, and extermination of thousands of forest and riparian plant, animal and fungi species. Clearcutted forests are notorious for not being able to recover to their original structure and composition. This all equals the “uglification” and death of Life. We must change our modern value system and our forestry practices worldwide to focus on ecological system integrity.
Canada’s largest Spruce (Picea sitchensis), is The San Juan Sitka Spruce (and also the second largest Spruce in the world). It was with this tree that I did a photo shoot in the rain around the 38 ft (11.6 m) circumference, gazing up at the 205 ft (62.5 m) top. Although this wasn’t my first Sitka Spruce encounter, this was my first making love with a tree in the rain, and it was cold but magnificent embracing the wet moss!
See also the local newspaper article linked in her post, “The naked tree-hugger makes her way to Port Renfrew,” and the artist statement on TreeGirl’s website.
The fall of Britain’s second-biggest-girthed sessile oak
Thursday last week I heard from my father that a great oak had blown down overnight near Wrexham. From the internet I learned it was the Pontfadog Oak that had fallen – Britain’s second-biggest-girthed sessile oak (Quercus petraea). After doing a bit of research and discovering two other named oaks nearby (a story for another day), I decided to pay my respects and get some photographs of the fallen champion. So on Saturday morning I jumped in the car and drove the 100 miles to Wales – hey, if Yorkshire’s greatest lapsed treeblogger can’t do that, then who can?
I was in for a shock when I saw both the underside of the tree and the soil on which had it stood for centuries. Where were all the roots? For all intents and purposes, there was nothing at all to anchor it to the ground. The biggest roots there, which were really nothing, were completely rotten. There were a couple of small straggly roots that were live wood, but had that really managed to sustain the whole tree?