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.
2011. Before this tree died, it produced a massive fruiting of oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus. from http://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 (“limbed up”) since the previous photos.
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. A decorticated section of the trunk.
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. 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.