Mysterious trees on Oak Island
I've always said that one of the most interesting things about blogging is the comments, both on the blog and via e-mail. Here's one I received a few days ago.
I am studying a species of Oak which is non-native to Eastern Canada. To date, my colleagues and I have been unable to identify which species of Quercus it is. The last tree disappeared sometime in the late 1960's, so all that we have to work with is the pictures of these trees. Do you think that you could take a look and render an opinion for us?
I wrote back:
I will be glad to look, but please keep in mind that I am just an interested amateur, not a trained professional!
Robert sent the following image and a little more information about it:
Many thanks, Genevieve. These Oak trees were found on Oak Island, off of the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. They are not native to the region and are not found anywhere else, but on this island up to about 1969 or so, when the last ones disappeared. I suspect that they were planted there specifically by early visitors, perhaps between 1560 and 1670. They are unusual because of their broad canopies. Image attached. Thanks again and I surely hope that you recognize them!
I didn't recognize the trees, and I wrote back:
I am not able to identify them, I regret to say. Their shape is curious, not so much because of the broad canopy, but because of the apparent lack of foliage below the canopy. I wonder if that might have been a phenomenon caused by the stress of growing in an environment that wasn't its natural home?
If you'd like, I can post the image on the blog and see if anyone else has any comments.
Many thanks for taking a look, Genevieve. I would be grateful to learn anything else about them, so a post on your blog would be great. We thought that we had a sample of the trees from a log found on the island. I sent a sample for analysis to the Center for Wood Analysis Research and it came back as a species of Maple. I suspect that we had the wrong stump, as the common belief was and is that they are a species of Oak...
Your insight regarding the environment is probably correct. The unusual shape of the canopy, etc. is likely the result of the North Atlantic seaboard environment, which is known to be harsh as a result of the Nor'easters, as well as perhaps the soil and other conditions. In any event, they apparently thrived there for a number of centuries and of course, is why Oak Island is so named. We believe that they were planted there specifically for timber used in the repair (careening) of ships, but this is just a theory. Hopefully, someone will recognize them from the image, so I will keep my fingers crossed!
Robert is a member of an Oak Island research group. If you're not familiar with the story of Oak Island, it is fascinating. The story was new to me, but my son was well-informed about the mysterious treasure hole and the many attempts that have been made to explore it, having read about it in his some of his "mysteries of the unexplained" books.
Readers, do you recognize the tall trees in the image above, or do you have any comments about them? If so, please post them, or let me know by e-mail. Thanks.