Wolf Grove Rock Trees

Neil

by Neil Carleton

Over the years I’ve seen many kinds of birds in trees, ranging from a tiny back-and-white warbler to an eye dazzling indigo bunting.  They’re usually observed higher up in the canopy.  Just the other week I watched as a red squirrel foraged on yellow birch catkins a little lower in the foliage.  From time to time I’ve seen a cat in a tree too, perched on a bottom branch.  On occasion I’ve even noticed a kite trapped in the upper branches of a tall tree, or a plastic bag temporarily snagged on a windy day.

Birds, squirrels, and cats are mobile of their own accord, while kites and plastic bags hitch a ride on a passing breeze.  But what of a big rock in a tree?  That was the mystery this spring when Stephen Fennell showed me a pair of remarkable shady characters on his residential property along the Wolf Grove Road.

Wolf Grove Rock Tree 1
Between the house and Wolf Grove Road, snuggly held in place by two young red oaks, is a substantial piece of the earth’s crust 60 cm off the ground. This angular rock measures 55 cm high, 24 cm wide, and 36 cm thick.
A closer inspection reveals that the growing oaks are slowly enveloping the rock, just as fence row trees grow over strands of barbed wire.
A closer inspection reveals that the growing oaks are slowly enveloping the rock, just as fence row trees grow over strands of barbed wire.

 

The sharp, angular dimensions of the rock, along with relatively unweathered mineral exposures, provide another clue to its present association with the two red oaks.  The rock is not a rounded specimen deposited by glacial action during the last ice age, then coincidentally visited millennia later by a sprouting acorn on two sides.
The sharp, angular dimensions of the rock, along with relatively unweathered mineral exposures, provide another clue to its present association with the two red oaks. The rock is not a rounded specimen deposited by glacial action during the last ice age, then coincidentally visited millennia later by a sprouting acorn on two sides.
Under the hand lens, the metamorphic mineral composition of the rock matches the geochemistry of the bedrock along the Wolf Grove Road at the front of the property. During the construction of the highway in the 1980s, local sections of the Canadian Shield were blasted to create a more level topography for vehicle traffic.
Whereas a rock of substantial size could be launched into a low trajectory by a large blast for highway construction, and whereas two young red oaks growing nearby could possibly sustain the unexpected aerial arrival of a rock between them, be is resolved that this is what the resulting association of the trees and the rock could look like some 25 years later.
Whereas a rock of substantial size could be launched into a low trajectory by a large blast for highway construction, and whereas two young red oaks growing nearby could possibly sustain the unexpected aerial arrival of a rock between them, be is resolved that this is what the resulting association of the trees and the rock could look like some 25 years later.

 

Thank you to Stephen Fennell and Carolyn Carrothers for nominating the rock trees of Wolf Grove Road.

Do you have a notable or favourite tree?  Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles.  You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <ve3nce@rac.ca>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0.  I look forward to hearing from you.

My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee.  The contact for the Tree Working Group is Ron Ayling, 613-256-4617.  In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.

Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.