Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

An old oak tree approaches its end


Old oak

Yesterday, I was sorry to see severe damage to an old oak tree that I like. We had months of extreme drought this summer, and then a windstorm or two when we finally got a few showers.

Besides the large broken branch that left a gaping wound, it looks like some of its other branches have dried out and died back. It will probably still cling to life for a while, but the decline is irreversible.

The broken branch isn't very obvious from the highway, so I didn't notice it until I turned on the side road and drove by the tree yesterday. It was a shock to see.

I've been watching this tree for 15 years. Most of its top has been dead for several years. I think that was caused by a lightning strike. Every spring, I wonder if it will leaf out again.

I think this oak is probably over 200 years old. It has watched the traffic on the "Russellville Road" in Christian County, Kentucky, for a long, long time. I'm glad I've had the chance to enjoy and appreciate it.

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2 comments -- please add yours:

Chris said...

Thank you for showing us such a beauty. She has lived a long life and will continue to provide for woodpeckers and such as she passes. I'm sure!

Genevieve said...

You're right, Chris. The larger dead branches at the top of the tree are probably already a good perch for vultures and birds of prey.

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"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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