Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ring-bole, extraordinary tree recovery

Trees often suffer mangling deformations early on, few survive. When they do survive and recover, bizarre forms may result. Trees don't heal the way animals do, unable to repair damage, new growth must surround or grow over or around damaged sections, closing-off damaged tissues. Recovered trees can mask the original damage as they grow; by formation of reaction wood types, tension wood and compression wood shape recovery and lend disproportionate mass to recovery forms as seen in the oversize upper left and lower right segments of the ring-bole seen in the image below.

A vigorous maple tree bole formed a complete circle, a unique recovery from damage found in Richland County, Ohio. Photo by author

Oddly formed trees have attracted notice and captured imaginations of observers for as long as people have been sharing woodlands with trees. For many, these unique forms seem too odd to be accidents of nature. Enthusiasts assign human motives and methods to explain their existence. Labels such as casualty trees, recovery trees, trident trees, jesuit trees, trail trees, KGC trees, thong trees, signal trees, compass trees, treasure trees, boundary trees, pointer trees, marker trees, and so on often suggest imagined human utility of recovery forms found commonly in nature.

Small hemlock exhibiting ring-bole. Mohican State Park, Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Paula Miller.

Common recovery form. A survivor of pinning by a fallen tree, Pike County, Ohio. Reaction wood has added asymmetrical mass to the horizontal element. Photo by author.