Quiz answer

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:

texture stump

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.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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One Response to Quiz answer

  1. Lilaine says:

    Wow! Superbe souche! :O
    We don’t have the likes in our Mediterranean forests.

    No river, neither surf, but water-worn anyway. A (somehow still) living evidence of the climatic conditions in your home country. 🙂
    And a remainder not to forget the rain gear if one ever goes to visit this part of the world… 😉
    The dead vegetation is also used as a home/shelter by many animals, isn’t it?
    And the dead animals also enter the never-ending cycle of nature, as nutriments and sediments. They even make the days of some archaeologists years, centuries, millennia after they died… 😉

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