Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Tree Year: Bark Life Part II

This is the catalpa tree I'm observing this year.

There are two in the park. I'll be spending time with the one in the foreground.
I love the gently curving branches.
The most notable thing about the trunk of this tree, are the splits and cracks in the bark.
Some of them look quite fresh, exposing soft, white wood within.
These cracks have me a little worried. How did they happen? Is this normal? Is it a sign of distress in the tree?
One of the cracks ends here. Anybody home?
The catalpa is native to North America, tropical in origins but extending its habitat northwards, so that now it thrives well in the more southerly parts of Canada. It is grown as an ornamental tree in Zones 4-5.

According to Diana Beresford-Kroeger in Arboretum America, the catalpa tree can deal well with climate change. "The catalpa is basically a tropical tree that has, by adaptation, moved itself into all of the north temperate regions of the world. It can withstand the ravages of sun, drought, snow and ice. It produces good quality shade during the heat of summer. Because of its flowers and fruit, it extends nature's food basket northward. Seed-eating birds such as the cardinals...have learned to use their beaks to split open the seed pods while they are still hanging on the tree. The cardinals release the seeds on to the ground to eat them." She goes on to say that, "Catalpas will keep pace with the needs of a moving bird and beneficial insect population." The trees are important to beneficial, non-flying insects as well as butterflies, bumblebees and wasps. They feed seed-eating birds, squirrels and smaller mammals.

I'm looking forward to getting to know this tree better and will keep on eye on those cracks and see how they might be affecting the tree.


Anonymous said...

a very nice form of that tree - and the cracks in the bark are amazing. Maybe this one isn't that well ajusted to the weather...

Marvin said...

The curved trunk and arm-like lower branches make your catalpa look as if it is dancing -- in very slow motion, of course.

Amber said...

Dreamfalcon, I wondered that myself. One too many freeze/thaws perhaps?

Marvin, that's lovely! The tree does indeed look like it's dancing. It will be my dancing tree from now on. :)