in the redwoods – part three

This is the third in a series of posts on the Coast Redwood forests that we visited in September and October. Click on these links to view parts one and two.

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When you’re in the redwoods, you will soon notice that new life seems to be springing from even the most ancient and decaying trees. Broken, burned, or fallen trees host new growth such as as in the above example. New trunks growing upon the crowns or lateral branches of old trees are called reiterations. (Click on images for larger views)

New growth is also seem emerging from the burls that are commonly seen on these trees. In the photo to the left, a clump of ferns occupies one large burl, while new trees emerge from a couple of smaller burls a little higher up the trunk. In time, some of these new trees will grow until they appear to be a continuation of the main trunk. If you study these large trees, you’ll find many of such growths above the main trunk.

Trees of all sizes are also seen growing from the toppled remains of older nurse trees. Young sapling trees are also found growing up from the roots of large trees. They often form a bushy ring of saplings that surround the main tree as in the photo below. From what I’ve read, fires encourage this type of sprouting of new growth at ground level and from burls or limbs further up the trunk. Droughts will also cause some dying back, followed by new growth during a wet year.

Other plants such as ferns grow in the debris that gathers up in the branches of the redwoods. In the Redwood National and State Parks Visitor Guide, it states that, “one researcher found over 1,000 pounds of leather ferns. . . growing in one soil mat.” It’s easy to see how new trees can get their start in the favourable habitat provided by an older tree.

More on the redwoods coming up sometime soon…

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4 Responses to “in the redwoods – part three”

  1. Dave Says:

    I’m really enjoying this look at redwoods, which I’ve only ever seen once in my life. I sure hope you’re submitting these links to the Festival of the Trees!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Dave – Glad you’re enjoying the redwood series. I haven’t sent in the links to FOTT yet, but I’ll have to get on that. I seem to be behind on so many things since I returned home and finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things.

  3. Wayne Says:

    The photos looking up into the trees are really dramatic, Bev.

    I’m particularly taken by your noticing the other things that are growing in crevices or on burls – the amazing amount of other living things that depend on these trees. And of course the animals that take advantage of all these niches.

    Did you see water running down the trees? I’ve read that one of the major peculiar things is that the trees catch the fog and condense it, producing watery films on a regular basis on the tree itself, and then of course directed downward into the soil.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – There’s really so much to see when in the redwood groves that it’s easy to overlook the many smaller organisms. Despite my conscious effort to look for things, I’m sure I was seeing just a tiny fraction of what’s there. I’d love to spend several weeks exploring the redwoods more slowly, perhaps in another season of the year, so learn more about them. Perhaps it will happen some day.
    I’ve read about the fog condensation as well. It’s difficult to say if it was such condensation that made the trees seem wet, although it may well have been. When I was hiking on the Prairie Creek trails, the forest seemed quite wet and soggy, although I don’t actually think there had been much rain in the days before I was there.