In answering yesterday’s quiz, most of you seemed to be on the same page…or wood, in this case.
However, the wood was neither river-worn nor surf-worn; in fact, it had never left its birthplace. Here it is, in situ:
It’s a massive old Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) stump. If I were to stand in front of it, my shoulders would be at the level of the top of that root cave (and I am not short). Yesterday’s photo was taken over on the left side, where moss and algae have colored the wood. Notice the decay on the right side — this stump is shorter than when I saw it last.
Also note that it’s growing a new tree right out of the top. The new one is a western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), taking advantage of the gloriously rich soil provided by decaying wood in a temperate rainforest. Fallen trees in these forests are often colonized by seedlings sprouting along their length, which eventually leads to an interesting sight when the seedlings are grown and the original log has decayed to nothing: a row of trees in a perfectly straight line. Whenever you see that in a forest, you know those trees got their start on a “nurse log,” even if the log itself no longer exists.
Stumps, snags and fallen logs are still very much a part of the productive cycle in forests. It’s only humans who think everything must be gotten rid of the moment it’s no longer “alive.” I think it’s because most humans have such a limited definition of the word.