Self-coppicing and a fallen tree

Self coppicing? What’s that then? I’m not sure if it’s an official term, but it’s the best way I can describe a few trees that I’ve come across in the forest.

Sometimes when the trunk dies, a thin strip of bark carries on living on the side of the dead trunk, and eventually with the healing over of the bark edges, this forms a tree in its own right. It’s not that.

It’s more that the trunk has died, but (perhaps) epicormic buds at the very base of the trunk grow, in the same way they’d grow if the trunk were cut and coppiced – but with the trunk still present. Here are three examples:



Here are more photos of the one on the right. The dead trunk is peppered with many invertebrate holes, and there’s a fungus low down on the trunk. The living parts of the tree are on either side of this trunk – one smaller, one larger. When I first saw this tree I couldn’t quite make it out. Was it the sort of tree made from two healed over strips of bark? Two acorns conveniently planted at the very base of the dead trunk by a jay or squirrel? One of each? After seeing the other similar trees, it made more sense, though I still find it unusual.

When it’s in leaf, it’s easy to walk past it and not notice the dead trunk in the middle of the greenery. It’s right next to one of the footpaths through the forest. Out of interest, it’s a sessile oak.

A large branch fell of last summer – you could see in both the fallen branch and in the standing trunk, that the wood was solid and had brown rot in the heartwood:


This week I was in that side of the forest, and even from a distance noticed that something was not quite right – the trunk had fallen!!!



The trunk fell and broke when it hit the fence, so the inside of the top part is visible as well – the trunk was solid, with brown rot, all the way up.

The falling dead trunk must have clipped one of the branches of the larger living trunks on the way down, as there’s a split along a branch – not ideal, but it’ll be interesting to see how this split changes over time. The tree has great vitality, has access to lots of light, and is going about a second way of living its life as a tree (or two), so let’s see how it gets on now that its original trunk is down.

What an interesting tree!