Attack of the zombie maples

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17 Responses to “Attack of the zombie maples”

  1. Thom says:

    Would that be the Most Studied Forest in the World®?

  2. The fortunate things about zombie maples is that their bark is worse than their bite…

  3. Brett Kling says:

    Has anyone considered bonsai like conditions where root structures are limited and root bound?

    • Just fyi; when properly done, Bonsai roots are carefully tended to and not allowed to get root bound.

      But great question in general, and something I was wondering myself. Some bonsai have lived for 6,7,800 years in small pots.

      Also in bonsai, trunk caliper is very desirable. You want a small tree to have a large trunk. If you have a tree in training and stress it at the wrong time – repot it, move it if it’s training in the ground, etc – you can forget about gaining any trunk caliper for that growing season. Essentially your tree with not grow that year. That sounds really similar to what they are seeing here… and this is all very interesting to me in light of that.

  4. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I can think of alternative explanations… for example, normally trees throw a new ring out so they can have a newer, better fluid distribution network.  But what if the old one is really good, then why spend the energy?  So perhaps instead of  the explanation being that these trees are overstressed, perhaps they’re understressed?  My point being that it seems like we’re still in the theory stage here, which is the most fun place to be.  I miss working in the natural sciences.

  5. Preston Sturges says:

    Many species of trees can persist in the shade  for years growing very little as understory plants.  Maples are such a tree, but if they get some light they will shoot upwards.  Other tree, like white oak, simply die in the shade.  Paw-paws will grow as a conventional tree in the sun, but in the shade they become a shrub.

  6. dilinger says:

    This sounds less like a zombie (dead or undead), and more like hibernation.  The trees slow down their metabolism and nap until they have access to more nutrients/resources.

  7. chaopoiesis says:

     Perhaps they’ve just read Günter Grass.

  8. Fred Cairns says:

    It’s fairly well known that Yews can slip into a state of suspended animation that can last decades and perhaps centuries. It’s not quite the same as what’s happening with these maples, as the Yews look dead (but are not).  There may be some connection.  My sister bought me an Acer, and was shocked at its lack of growth. I no longer feel responsible. ;-)

  9. Slowermo says:

    They’re coming to get you samara.

  10. Harold Pomeroy says:

    I live near Harvard Forest.  I noticed how maples grow slowly when I realized that a red maple a kid my age  had carved his name into in 1967 was 3″ in diameter, in 2005. The tree was growing under a red oak.  The oak got struck by lightning in 2005, and the red maple took off growing.

     Human time scale is so short that we have a hard time seeing and understanding a natural system like a forest. I have come to realize that Central Massachusetts forests are stll recovering from the slash and burn agriculture of the sheep farming boom we just had. In 1830. The woods are dramatically different where we didn’t keep sheep. 

    Foresters, loggers, regulators, and land owners have little information or perspective they need for stewardship of the forest. It’s painful to watch, like seeing an art museum collection get destroyed by rough handling of the artwork.

    Harold Pomeroy

  11. Not Zombie but Peter Pan

  12. Jack Kieffer says:

    Interesting – now if only these trees could eat brains…

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