Hi! Owen here! Today I’d like to tell you about another tree. (If you haven’t read it, here is my previous favorite tree post.)
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a lot of Black Cottonwood trees. A special thing about these trees is that there are stars at the center of their branches – like the cross-section of an apple, but much smaller. Before you get jealous, here’s another special thing about them: Cottonwood trees create white fluff that goes everywhere once a year, bringing much suffering to anyone who has any hint of an allergy. Beautiful but brutal stuff.
My favorite cottonwood tree stood behind an apartment complex I used to live in. A path was being cut into a small cottonwood forest to provide a nature trail and allow for improvements in local habitat. There was a small stream that used to be a larger river. Local groups were trying to spruce it up in the hopes that salmon would one day be able to travel there to spawn. Salmon stocks have been dwindling year after year, so this is very important and much appreciated work.
Compared to all the other trees in the area, this one was gargantuan. Since these trees mature at 60 years old and can live to be 200, it was most likely over a half century old. With all the logging this area is known for and the other changes that have happened, it was amazing to see a long-lived tree like that.
Unfortunately, this tree sat right at the entrance of the soon to be created path. There was no reason to rehome it, since there is no shortage of cottonwood trees here. Plus, that would likely have cost a great deal, and it certainly wouldn’t have been easy to transport. Instead they cut it down.
The trunk was very wide, so climbing up on it was difficult, especially since it had just rained. (It has almost always ‘just rained’ here.) I had planned to walk the whole length of it, but changed my mind when I looked in front of me. The top disappeared into the forest, and I couldn’t tell what kind of hazards might be there. I also didn’t want to slip and break an ankle.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen this tree be eaten by plants and wildlife alike. So while I think it is a shame to have lost such a tree, I keep in mind that it was only able to grow so large because other forest inhabitants had added their nutrients to the soil.