April 4th, 2010

Easter 2010

We have had high wind warnings and advisories for the past few days and the weather service from has cautioned that the potential for wind damage increases as the trees leaf out. Here in the north half of Whatcom county, the trees are still almost bare. The cherries and pears are in bloom and the big leaf maples are decorated with their creamy yellow bell shaped flowers, but most leaves are still not much bigger than a thumbnail.

Windthrow

Even without leaves, a big leaf maple blew down into the cornfield this week. Foresters call a blow down ‘windthrow.’

Eighty Foot Fallen Maple

The twins and I went out this Easter morning with a tape to measure it. The trunk is about forty inches in diameter at the butt and eighty feet tall. For a big-leaf maple, eighty feet is taller than most mature trees, but sometimes a tall specimen reaches a hundred feet and more.

Stump Rot

This one fell because the stump was rotten. Over three-quarters of the stump was rotted away. All that was left was a few inches of outer shell that conducted water and nutrients up from the root system to the rest of the tree. From about eight feet up, the tree is hard and healthy. Big-leaf maples are subject to fungus attacks. It looks like the fungus entered from a broken sub trunk that died, broke off, and the stub rotted and infected the main trunk. Subsequently, the fungus devoured the interior of the stump. Sometimes those weakened old maples fall over on still days, so I was not surprised to see that this one fell on this windy spring week.

Seventy Years Old

When I was a ten-year-old, I remember this maple as a trunk a foot in diameter that had become rough and fissured as big-leaf maples are when they mature. It had the size and appearance of a twenty year old tree. Since I am sixty, that would make the tree seventy. Also, it grew on the edge of the last acreage that Grandpa and Dad cleared about seventy years ago. Maples often start growing on the fresh edge of the woods after land has been cleared, making a second argument for seventy years.

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