By Glenn N. Major, Volunteer Preserve Steward at Walnut Woods Nature Preserve
Maybe we should rename Walnut Woods to Sleepy Hollow. Long ago, a Red Oak tree at the preserve may have been hit by lightning, resulting in its canopy falling to the forest floor where it sits today, feeding mushrooms and moss. Its branchless, leafless, headless trunk remains, “vampiring” sugars from its neighbors. “It’s alive!” (Young Frankenstein reference), and healing its wounds.
According to recent scientific studies on the “Wood Wide Web”, the headless tree *could be* being kept alive by neighboring trees in the forest community, and we are speculating that it *may be* happening with this specific tree. Roots co-mingle and fuse – the headless tree donates a healthy root system, and its neighbor donates a healthy crown. The exchange of water and nutrients is a symbiotic relationship.
So, our friend in Walnut Woods isn’t so scary after all.
Happy Halloween !!