Trees are in constant competition with each other for water, sunlight, and nutrients. Some trees in the forest capture most of the light and moisture to become the largest and healthiest. An indication of a tree’s competitive success is the size and shape of its crown.
In the forest the dominant trees have crowns that reach above the general level of the canopy. These supercanopy trees receive full light from above and partial light from the sides. Canopy trees, or codominants, form the continuous ceiling of a forest. Full sunlight is received at the crown, but little reaches the sides. The intermediate or understory trees have small crowns and receive some light from above but none from the sides.
My source for the origin of the wolf tree term is Northern Woodlands, the trade name of the Center for Northern Woodlands Education in Vermont. It’s understood that the idea of a wolf tree was popularized by foresters during the second half of the 20th century. This was when many old pastures grown into forests had reached an age for first-cutting. “These early foresters suggested that the wide-spreading, old trees were preying on forest resources and, like a wolf, should be culled to make way for merchantable timber. Though no wolves roamed the landscape then, the idea of wolves still haunted people and ran into their management metaphors.”
Being curious about the phenomenon of twin oaks, I asked Professor Google to help me the other day. She knows so much. A simple search for ‘twin oaks’ turned up about 6,890,000 results in just over half a second.
Who would have thought there’d be a twin oaks camp, census-designated place, commune, condo, co-op, farm, golf course, hospital, inn, industrial park, lodge, motel, plantation, resort, school, subdivision, and tavern. I also discovered a twin oaks auto shop, foods corporation, management service, savings bank, software company, towing operation, and woodworking business. There must be, or have been, a lot of inspirational twin oaks across the continent. Alas, it would take in the order of 26 years, non-stop, to conduct a 2 minute review for each of the Professor’s search results.
In the meantime, here are the links for two oak stories of interest. One is about the famous twin oaks of Texas, where a young man with an arrow in his back sought safety from a conflict. The other is about a retired Canadian nurse who fell in love with an oak and travels 7,000 miles each year to visit the tree in England.
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, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or Neil Carleton, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0. I look forward to hearing from you.
My volunteer columns started in March 2010 to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee. The contact for the Tree Committee is Ron Ayling, 613-804-4617. In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.
Until the next time, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.