Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Monday, May 12, 2008


The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest, England

In Sherwood forest is a great, ancient oak tree between 800 and 1000 years in age. It is 52 feet tall, weighs an estimated 23 tons, and has a waistline of 52 feet. It's canopy spreads 92 feet. It is said that this tree at one time sheltered "Robin Hood" when he was in need of a place to hide.

I read about this majestic tree on a web page about The Major Oak of Sherwood Forest which has a wealth of information about the tree and its history. Could this tree have really been around in 1008? It seems amazing that it might have been a sapling before the Norman Invasion of England. It is incredible what history it has seen.

Trees are pretty amazing when you think of them the live so long and can be so terribly strong. True they can be felled by many things and that is why there are not so many of the very largest of them, even with the very large sized species. It feels so tragic that these giants can be felled by nature. It can be insect, disease, wind, lighting, fire, earthquake, or flood. More rarely would it be something like drought since the most often have their roots into very reliable sources of water and for the most part these giants are fuelled on Sun, water, and air. I believe the mineral needs are not even huge though there is some need of nitrogen compounds and a bit of iron and magnesium. But these are pretty available for the large part if the ecosystem is at all intact. (Perhaps I am being very naive?)

Trees can be giants in a number of ways, in height like the towering Redwoods, Sequoia, and Douglas fir; aged like the Bristlecone Pines or the Great oaks, or in sheer mass or volume ore area covered. There are some of the oldest ones living gnarled existences clinging to cliffs on the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario.

Some are more handsome and imposing than others of course.

Sometimes though I look at trees and don't see a single organism, but I see more a city. The leaves being factories which produce the materials used to make the wood to build the trunk - the wood for the trunk after all really isn't living. The roots bringing water in and the trace minerals as well. Of course the leaves convert energy and that water along with CO2 to produce the wood and other materials. They are cities even before considering any insect or other animal life on it or mosses or other plants that might live among roots and branches.

We can do a lot to preserve individual trees, but it is harder to preserve whole forests of old growth wood. I hope we can work to preserve the old forests as well as individual trees.

It will be a shame to lose some of the fascinating trees we have when there are none coming to replace them.

~ Darrell

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