Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Losing a Neighbor

This year's big windstorm took down several large trees in our subdivision.  I was saddened to lose this neighbor as it has provided oak acorns with acorn weevils to show WOLF students.  They are a good example of another small lifecycle that goes on around us unnoticed.

These Curculio sp. live out of sight.  When our Master Naturalist Buck Keagy was collecting acorns to plant hundreds of oaks in the past, he would dump them in a bucket of water and plant only those that sank, knowing that the floaters had weevils or were otherwise damaged. I do the opposite, throwing out the sinkers to find acorns likely housing weevils. You can read about their life cycle and the weevil wasp Cerceris halone that depends on them in this blog.

Estimating the tree's age based on its diameter at breast height, most tree sites would have called it around 110 years old.*  In this case, by tree ring count it was 90 years old. The difference is that urban trees that are watered regularly and in open sun grow large faster.

This giant broke off at the roots about 16" underground. Oaks in nature spend more of their energy in the first few years creating deep roots before t.heir growth spurt to height and diameter later.  My forester professor Jim Gulden supported my theory that its shallow root system likely came from frequent urban lawn watering.  If gets all that free water, why bother with deeper roots?

The only good news is that the trunk will be making someone good furniture. 

* Estimating a standing trees age is explained at this web site.