Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fallen Tree Mystery

I stopped by one of the fallen tree areas to have a seat on a log.  There are enough good sitting logs here to accommodate a bus load of people. 

As I prepared to sit, I sighted along the tree trunk and saw how the lower trunk had fallen between two closely spaced trees and the tree top had fallen between two others.  It reminded me of the path of a croquet ball through the wickets.

Then I noticed that the base of the tree was several feet to the side of the stump hole.  Since falling trees seldom bounce or roll, the base of the tree is normally located right at the stump hole.

When I stood in the stump hole, I couldn’t see how the tree could possibly have fallen the way it had.  It could have gone between the first set of trees, but that would have put the top of the tree far from the second set of trees.  I always love finding a little mystery when I’m out walking.

The tree had been dead for many years before falling, so there were very few lateral roots left on the stump.  The amount of soil still clinging to the root ball indicates that the tree has only been on the ground for a year or two.  It definitely did not fall and then have trees grow up around it.

The scar on this ash helped explain the events that took place as the tree fell.  The side of the fallen log that ended facing up was the side that would have faced the ground if the ash had not intervened.  As the tree fell, its bent section connected with the ash and caused the tree to make a 180 degree twist in the air.  This put the top between the two trees outside the original line of fall and left a long scar on the side of the ash.

The twist occurred with enough force to flip the lower part of the trunk away from the root hole and smash the base of the tree opposite the ash. 

The fall would have been a neat thing to watch.  This is a good example of why you want to keep plenty of distance between yourself and a falling tree.  You never know for sure what direction it’s going to go.


  1. Hi Steve...that sounds like a good motto for the things we do in life ; }
    I saw a microburst once lay down a path of tree...that was enough for me "thank you"
    Be careful out there tromping around in the woods!!

  2. Hi Grace. I'm always careful about wind blowing things out of trees. I once shut down a government funded project because I felt it was too windy to have the crews working in the woods. When the project supervisor complained that he had never had a worker struck by a falling limb, I explained that I was just making sure he would still be able to say that tomorrow.