Feb.3 Life is hard for young trees

In our forest especially…


This young hickory was squeezed in its youth by a Japanese honeysuckle vine. Thankfully it survived – but  with a twist that will last all its days. I’ve never seen a mature tree that was a victim of this vine. Does this mean the vine hasn’t been in our forest that long, or that trees subjected to this treatment don’t live a long time?


Another squeezed tree, a sassafras. In this case the strangulation inspired side shoots to emerge, perhaps anticipating the death of the upper part of the trunk. I removed the vine from this one several years ago, in an ongoing effort to rescue as many small trees as possible from a viney grasp.



Japanese Honeysuckle is a twiner, and once it finds a tree to climb its entire stem behaves like a spiraling tendril. It’s racing for the light up high, to flower and make fruit. Note the green leaves in February – with this mild winter it gets a longer growth period.


Black cherry revival – before and after. The vines were removed and drooping side branches trimmed, resulting in a relatively undamaged tree, just with a bit of a lean.


Another way to not grow old – a young black cherry and hackberry, both buck rubbed. Bucks do quite a bit more than rub their velvet off on trees. Under a heavy dose of testosterone they spar with, shove, and batter saplings and trees up to 4 or 5 inches wide. They trade scents, leaving their own, and taking with them the aroma of cedar, spicebush, black cherry or sassafras (favorites for rubbing).



Black cherries in particular are all the rage for rubbing during this season’s rut,  I’ve seen at least 15 of this size. When more than half the cambium is removed the tree is done for. Even if it’s less than that, the future tree is quite compromised and may succumb to rot. Easy prediction – between browsing and rubbing, no more black cherry making it past youth in this forest.



Rubbed oaks are seldom seen in our forest, likely because young oaks are so very few. Was enjoying the colors on this young red oak, when I noticed the bare white wood at the base of the trunk. It was already done for.

The last category of unfortunate trees has no images to go with it. These heavily deer browsed trees under 4 feet tall are so tiny and spindly I did not succeed in getting a good picture of one. Though they are small, it’s likely they may be much older than they look. We’ll just have to imagine them thriving in some faraway forest where the hazards are fewer.





One thought on “Feb.3 Life is hard for young trees

  1. Pingback: 1/19 Winter Deer – one forest fragment

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