Why epicormic growth is a good idea

Epicormic growth – very important for a tree!

In the forest this week I saw a tree that hadn’t developed any epicormic growth on it’s lower trunk….

All of the growth is in the top half of the tree. Maybe in other situations this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but with this tree, it’s perhaps not so great. The trunk isn’t solid – in fact, if you have a look at the base, you can see that at some point long ago part of the main trunk fell. The trunk here is dead and has been decaying for some time – the living part of the tree is wrapped around this at the base, with sturdy healed-over edges, and supporting a good healthy canopy of leaves. But….. the living trunk has holes and is hollowing, and is slightly top heavy on one side, which happens to be on the side that’s slightly downhill. All of this has happened over a very long time, which you can tell by the amount of healing over of the bark edges – they look really rounded over, rather than just a little bit rounded over.

If the tree were to bring some epicormic buds into play, it could develop some branches on its lower trunk before anything happens to the top of the tree in the decades ahead. If anything falls before new branches are established, there may not be enough leaves to capture sunlight, to sustain the growth and needs of the tree. Will the tree develop any epicormic growth on its lower trunk? Only time will tell.

Elsewhere in the forest…..

There’s another tree that’s decided that epicormic growth is definitely what it wants to do! It was haloed over the winter, after being quite crowded by other trees. It already had a low ancient form, but when it got access to more light, wow, it did lots of growing!

So now this tree will be able to improve its vitality, by making more leaves, capturing more sunlight, making more energy, and generally having more resources to decide what to do with. It might decide to grow some of its branches in a certain way, maybe heal over a wound, or develop some of its roots a little more. Or maybe bits of everything. Oaks love having light, and being able to awaken epicormic buds out of dormancy is such a great skill. Epicormic growth – definitely a good idea.

An interesting tree

Another interesting tree in the forest…..

This tree is completely hollow, but the inside of the trunk space is full of leaves to about a metre high. The low trunk has quite a stocky appearance, but then has some tall branches with a good canopy of leaves. What used to be the main trunk is now dead, and the living part of the tree is the layer of bark wrapped around this. This bark layer is almost in two parts, and with a definite section missing. The two living parts are actually joined at the base on one side, and have a gap on the other side.

The smaller of the two parts has a distinctive little burr on the side, and leans out a bit. Care has been taken so that the tree is not at risk from falling branches from trees nearby, but at some point this leaning branch may fall. But for the moment, it’s there, and the bed of leaves is sitting nicely within the trunk. I often wonder if a fox or a mouse might hop up there and have a little snooze.

Fungi, and hornets

This week in the forest I’ve been seeing more fungi – mainly on the forest floor, and mainly on fallen branches. It’s just that time of year really…

I’ve also been watching a hornet’s nest, which is really interesting. It’s in a tree that’s right beside a footpath, and I think that most people walk past without realising that so much hornet activity is going on above their heads – it’s very busy! I often stand nearby and watch the hornets coming and going. I’ve not been right up to the tree as I prefer to give them space. If one flies past me when I’m in the forest, the sound is strong and distinctive, and it’s definitely a moment of ‘what was that buzzing past me?’. They seem to just get on with their lives, and not be too bothered about people. Saying that though, this tree is one I’ll measure in the winter when the hornets are less active. The photo on the right is of a hornet I saw last winter – the colours are so beautiful. They’re gingery and tawny, and when the sun catches their wings, they have a warm golden glow.