This blasted beech bole betraying a loathesome blight is hard to look at: be warned.

Figure 1. Blasted beech bole. Photo: author.

I’ve showed you this tree before, from the other side and from a distance. But here the pathologies are clear and can be sadly ticked off. I once thought that this tree had been victim of a lightning strike: they tend to burn linear scars down the afflicted trunk. This tree, however, has these great linear scars on more than one of its boles, and in different stages of evolution.

It seems that a blight has taken hold of this tree, a fungus, perhaps. It works its way up under the bark and finally erupts, bursting the bark apart. This tree is being eaten alive. The sapwood on the side of the bole facing us has been eaten and the heartwood is exposed and rotting. The bark has peeled back from this gangrenous area in great flaps. It’s quite grisly and horrible.

As I pointed out before, the tree has a sneaking suspicion that it’s time is up: it’s in ‘all hands on deck’ survival mode, shooting out suckers, saplings from the base of the trunk, which will replace the main trunk when it has died off completely.

Figure 2. Suckers from blasted beech bole. Photo: author.

The leaves of the sucker are a little moth eaten, so to speak, but they still mostly bear the colors of summer as opposed to the fallen reds and especially oranges characteristic of the beech.

The sucker is doomed, too. When they fell the tree, it will, or would, shoot out suckers galore. But arborists tend to drill into the stump and inject a systemic poison that kills it so that the suckers don’t erupt. They’re not very attractive in any event, like an upside-down hula skirt.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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