On Macoun Club field trips, we regularly encounter strangely shaped trees that are hard to figure out. On last weekend’s outing to Pakenham we found this sturdy White Pine sapling that had formed a complete loop. The tree had recently died, so we collected the loop for the upcoming Awards Night nature quiz. The annual rings at the base showed it to be 61 years old. It had been growing in a mixed forest with pines and oaks about 18 inches in diameter all around.
This week, we spent more than an hour selecting from dozens of curious specimens like this one. Almost all involved injuries to trees, and the trees’ growth responses – suitable subjects for a midwinter nature quiz. All were challenging, requiring keen and close observation, recognition of species, and some knowledge of the natural history of both trees and animals.
Macoun members came up with a half-dozen hypotheses for how this tree might have grown in a tight circle upon its own vertical axis. What do you think? We hope to have a definitive explanation ready by Awards Night, Feb. 24th.