Forest forensics

You might not notice anything special about this scene at first glance, but something caught my eye as I drove past. I noticed that a branch had come down, although upon closer inspection that wasn’t everything…

Here’s how I think it happened:

This pine (not a Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris – its needles were too long) had fallen (blown?) over…

…and smashed into a roadside horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), breaking off half of the tree at a weak union between co-dominant stems with included bark. The resulting nasty wound can be seen in the top-right of the photo; the guilty pine is in the bottom-left.

The half of the chestnut that snapped out fell across the road and hit a tall wild cherry (Prunus avium), breaking a couple of high-up branches.

After hitting the horse chestnut, the pine tree carried on falling across the road. Here is the top section lying on the other side of the road; the middle section that would have blocked the road has been removed.

The pine struck a second horse chestnut on the far side of the road to the first, smashing through a few branches (the lowest in the photograph was probably substantial enough to have been called a co-dominant stem).

I took this photo sat atop the top section of the pine, looking across the road to the pine’s stump and the first chestnut that it damaged. The large wound where the chestnut used to fork can be seen maybe fifteen feet up the stem.

This carnage occurred sometime between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. Obviously somebody has been out to clear away the fallen branches and reopen the road, but no attempt has been made to clean up the wounds. The first of the horse chestnuts really wants felling because of the danger it poses to users of the road.

By coincidence, all of this happened just a few metres away from where I was photographing fungal fruiting bodies on a cherry tree on Sunday afternoon – the subject of the previous post in fact! According to its name-tag, that cherry tree was No. 0852. The trees in this post were tagged as 0855, 0856 and 0858 – the cherry, first chestnut mentioned and second chestnut mentioned respectively (I couldn’t see a tag on the pine). Isn’t that funny?

So just to recap how I pieced together the sequence of destruction, I’ve scribbled all over the first photo at the top of this post. The blue hoops ring the leaning pine stump (right of the road) and its detached, recumbent upper section (left of the road). As it fell it struck horse chestnut No. 0856 (red) and horse chestnut No. 0858 (orange). Half of chestnut 0856 was broken off and fell across the road, striking wild cherry No. 0855 (pink). The resulting wounds of 0855, 0856 and 0858 are all circled. Carnage!


Posted in Miscellany










www.flickr.com
treeblog's items Go to treeblog's photostream