2/07/2012

Muir Creek Root-Covered Nurse Stump

Muir Creek forest nurse stump
Everything is growing on everything in the richness of the Pacific coastal rain forest. Water is a requirement for life, and there is a lot of water here that enables plants to thrive in a green profusion.

Sometimes trees don't even need to fall before other trees are growing on them. Often ancient old growth trees have large trees growing on their thick, debris-covered branches.

When trees fall, they can become nurse logs, providing nutrients for a new generation of trees. Sometimes the seeds don't wait until dead trees fall.

Serious roots reaching for the forest floor
These photographs show the roots of a Western hemlock growing on a tall stump in the Muir Creek old growth forest. The stump looks like the remains of an old Douglas-fir, and it was probably wind-snapped.

Eventually the stump will decay entirely leaving the hemlock on a cylinder of root stilts 10 meters high.

If the hemlock lives long enough, other trees may grow on its thick, upper branches.

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