I have a very old tree in my garden. But it has a secret.
It used to be in a grazing paddock and had nothing but grass for many acres/hectares around. Because of this, it suffered the frequent indignity of having sheep and cattle camp in its shade. This in itself, is not a problem, but stock leave droppings which include lots of weed seeds and ‘fertiliser’. Apple Box trees (a type of Eucalyptus) like this one don’t appreciate either! It was a very sick old tree when I first saw it.
Since becoming a house yard tree, the stock have gone, the fertiliser has rotted away, the weeds have been controlled and leaf litter is thick on the ground all around. The crown has thickened up considerably, but it still drops lots of branches (maybe due to its age). The bushland around the base has all been planted to screen out the road and to put the tree back into its natural bushland setting.
Now, one can really appreciate the most remarkable thing about this tree.
As I said, it is very old. It used to have a single trunk – probably for many decades, because the scar where the trunk used to be was about a metre (3 feet) in diameter. The trunk must have been broken at some stage (hit by lightning perhaps?), because a ring of new branches has emerged at its base and these have now also grown into trunks in their own right. The original trunk has disappeared, leaving a space where it used to be.
I have cared for this tree for 14 years and have watched these new trunks each get bigger while the original trunk ‘space’ is barely visible any more. Based on what I have seen as I have watched it recover and continue to grow, I would estimate that this tree would be over 200 years old.
So what is the surprise? Well, the tree you see is not the tree it used to be :-)! Genetically identical, grown from the same tiny seed, but vastly different in appearance from its first century or so of existence!
Posted in reply to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise