Jun 04 2014
When I see a tree snapped in half like this I have to ask: What made this tree fall over?
I did some detective work but I don’t know the answer yet. Maybe you can help. Here are the clues:
- The tree is a black cherry (Prunus serotina)
- It was alive when it fell. It grew leaves this spring so the structural weakness wasn’t evident until the tree broke.
- This is the only broken tree at this location in Schenley Park. Even if a strong wind snapped the trunk it wasn’t strong enough to damage other trees.
- The trunk is not hollow inside the break though there are air gaps between the light outer wood and dark inner core.
- There’s a white flaky substance inside the trunk that coats the light wood layers. Is it a fungus?
- Did the white stuff weaken the trunk? Is it responsible for the break?
The trunk isn’t hollow, but…
Here’s a close look at the white flaky fungus. It reminds me of the white correction tape I use on paper.
Do any of you know what this is? Is it the reason the tree fell over?
Leave a comment with your answer.
(photos by Kate St. John)
UPDATE on June 5 with the ANSWER! It’s a species of Armillaria or honey fungus. (See Maureen Hobma’s comment below.) Well, I feel a little dumb. I wrote about Armillaria on 16 January 2014 because I was fascinated that it’s the largest living organism. I even included a photo of the white sheets inside the heartwood but, having never seen the white sheets before, I did not remember them. Until now I had only seen the black rope-y strands and the honey mushrooms so that’s all I knew of Armillaria. The white sheets are the newer growth, the mycelium, and can be bio-luminescent! I learn something new every day.