Getting a jump on the “Learn and Share” session scheduled for next week, Docent Gretchen Echols did some research on an unusual Douglas Fir growth and submitted this post.
By Gretchen Echols
On my tour Friday, across from the woodland pond in Ed’s garden, one of our guests was excited to spy a “living stump.” I had never heard of such a thing. I did a little on-line research and confirmed what she told me about its formation.
Apparently living stumps are rather rare. They are found only in conjunction with Douglas firs. Twenty to fifty percent of a Douglas fir’s mass is underground root structure. The roots can become intertwined with those of a neighboring tree. The joined roots of a standing neighbor can supply nutrients to a shattered or cut stump. The buddy tree can keep the stump alive for hundreds of years; the cut top of the stump scabbing over with bark and continuing to grow. It takes years for the stump to be completely covered with bark. The living stump will die only when it’s buddy dies, but until that time it is a living part of its support tree.
To find this special phenomenon, head down the grassy boulevard to Ed’s woodland pond. Gaze at the main pond and then turn 180 degrees. Across the way is the Douglas fir with the climbing hydrangea. Look for the stump to the left of the tree. The stump is smaller in diameter than its neighboring tree. What is unique is that the top of the stump is covered in bark and the edges are softened and somewhat rounded. As my grandniece says, “Amazing.” Happy treasure hunting.