Disappearing Trees

For once, the trees I am writing about are actual trees (rather than phylogenetic trees). Or rather, were actual trees. Recent years have not been kind to the trees of Clark’s campus and the surrounding neighborhood. Storms, fungi, pests, and campus improvements have all taken a toll. In this post, I focus on the European copper beech, Fagus sylvatica, a magnificent, smooth-barked tree with striking purple leaves and a spreading crown. Mature specimens lend an air of grandeur to the landscape. Here, with the aid of archived images from Google maps, I document two sites near Clark that have lost trees recently, and one site on campus with three large trees, one of which is dying.

Intersection of Main St. and Loudon St. in 2007 from www.google.com/maps

Intersection of Main St. and Loudon St. in 2007 from http://www.google.com/maps

2011 from www.google.com/maps

2011. Before this tree died, it produced a massive fruiting of oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus. from http://www.google.com/maps

2014. Before this tree died, it produced a massive fruiting of Pleurotus ostreatus.

2014.

St. Peter's Church, across from Clark's main campus, 2007, from www.google.com/maps

St. Peter’s Church, across from Clark’s main campus, in 2007, from http://www.google.com/maps

2014.

2014.

2007. The dominant feature of the Kresge Quadrangle on Clark's main campus is the trio of Fagus sylvatica trees. Note the shapes of the crowns in this and the next image. From www.google.com/maps

2007. The dominant feature of the Kresge Quadrangle on Clark’s main campus is the trio of Fagus sylvatica trees (center). Note the shapes of the crowns in this and the next image, and compare to the image from 2014. From http://www.google.com/maps

October 28, 2014. The tree nearest the road is dying; it is losing its leaves before the other two trees (look at upper left portion of crown). All three trees were heavily pruned since the previous photos.

October 28, 2014. The tree nearest the road is dying; it is losing its leaves before the other two trees (look at upper left portion of crown). All three trees were heavily pruned (“limbed up”) since the previous photos.

2014.

2014. The tree in the foreground is in bad shape. The photos below are all of this one tree.

2014. The trunk is becoming decorticated. The vascular cambium, the thin layer under the "bark" that allows for continued growth of the trunk, is dying.

2014. The trunk is becoming decorticated. The vascular cambium, the thin layer under the “bark” that allows for continued growth of the trunk, is dying.

2014. A decorticated section of the trunk.

2014. A decorticated section of the trunk.

2014. Stereoid fungal fruiting bodies (reproductive structures).

2014. Stereoid fungal fruiting bodies (reproductive structures).

2014. Oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus (the same species that was fruiting on the Loudon St. tree). This is a vigorous "white rot" wood decayer.

2014. Oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus (the same species that was fruiting on the Loudon St. tree). This is a vigorous “white rot” wood decayer.

2014. This tremelloid fungus may actually be a parasite of the fungi that are attaching this Fagus tree, not a pathogen or decayer of the tree itself.

2014. This tremelloid fungus may actually be a parasite of the fungi that are attaching this Fagus tree, not a pathogen or decayer of the tree itself.

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