Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bent Tree

It would be interesting to do an inventory of trees at Blue Jay Barrens to find the ratio of straight trees to crooked trees. I bet the straight trees would be in the minority. I enjoy speculating on the possible causes of some of the more interesting tree nonconformities. Now that I’ve managed to stick around for so long, I’ve actually witnessed many of these life altering events.

This bent Tuliptree is one that I knew when it was young and straight. A falling cedar caught the upper half of the Tuliptree and rode it to the ground. This caused a lateral bud to sprout and become the new top of the tree.

This is all that’s left of the previous tree trunk. The former top died within a year of the tree being pushed over, but it took many years for the dead portion to fall away. It’s difficult for the tree to grow over these places when the dead stub is in the way. It’ll be a long time before the wound completely closes.

Above the bend is a really nice shaped tree. It’s easy to forget that all of this growth came from a bud that would have probably remained dormant if the tree had not been pushed over. Tree growth is regulated by chemicals produced by the lead growth point located highest on the tree. This leader produces the upward growth that creates a trunk. The inhibiting chemicals keep other growth restricted to less vigorous lateral branching. When the tree was pushed over, the bud suddenly became the lead growth point for the tree.

I expect this tree to fall over one of these years. Each year’s growth adds more weight to the end of the original trunk. It won’t be a surprise when I go out and find the roots pulled from the earth and the tree on the ground. Of course, the most likely direction for the tree to fall is right across one of my walking trails.

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