Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fallen log tree nursery

   The other day I was sidetracked by a moss-covered, fallen tree that was serving as a nurse log for some young trees.
   This punky, well-rotted log was only one of many fallen and decaying tree trunks on the forest floor. Whatever caught my attention and caused me to pause and examine the log, was soon overshadowed by the myriad assemblage of plants, mosses, fungi, etc... an "island community".
   A few seedlings had taken root along the length of the old log.
   Some seeds find an old log like this to be a good place to germinate.  The decaying logs have a high moisture content and can be an excellent seedbed. Some kinds of saplings can make good use of the nutrients from the decomposition of the fallen tree trunks.
   Back in February I pulled some moss from a fallen log to reveal what was underneath.  There were many hibernating insects under the moss.  Even more noticeable were the many seeds that had landed on the log and worked down under the moss. Some of those seeds will likely find the old, mossy tree trunk to have suitable conditions to sprout and flourish.
  The photo below shows the result of a nurse log rotting away... the tree grew large, but the nurse log is still evident by the hollow in the shape of the nurse log that has long since rotted away.

Perhaps here, in fifty years, there might be a row of trees... a colonnade...

... where there once was a nurse log that sidetracked a naturalist.

   Incidentally, this is the mossy log that is the (possible) ichneumon wasp hibernaculum I wrote about in my last post.
   I might pause here at this "island" on the forest floor and take a look at some other members of the community on this mossy log.

1 comment:

  1. Dana, you've solved a mystery for me. I wondered why some trees have those hollows under them. It's from the "nurse log" ! Thanks -- as always.