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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Back to nature

A forest is one place where reduce, reuse and recycle are all done in an exemplary manner. Plants, or parts of plants, having lived their span of days or years, decompose into the earth or become a substrate for other organisms to speed up decomposition. All goes back to nature.

Leaves of the deciduous trees never go to waste in a forest. Neither do needles of mature coniferous trees like pine, all of which add to the humus or organic material in the forest floor.

 

Fallen trees or parts of them become homes for moss, which, over time, breaks down the tree, returning it to the earth.

 

Bark mushrooms take their place on trunks of dead or dying trees, breaking them down further as well. 

 

The curious jelly-like slime mold also does its part on old branches and tree trunks. One such mold is called Witch's butter and according to Eastern European legend, if it appeared on one's door or gate, it meant one was targeted by a witch's spell.

 

Animals take advantage of the environment too, as insects invade trees and woodpeckers dig holes in search of them.

 

Then there is Usnea, or Old Man's Beard, which hangs from branches and trunks of old trees. It is a non-plant, consisting of algae and fungi in a mutually beneficial relationship. Its presence in a forest indicates the air is clean since Usnea absorbs pollutants and will die in extreme cases of pollution. Our ancestors used it for its antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and, even today, it is used in emergencies in the forest. 

 

In my youth, I studied biology in university. Over my teaching career, I left teaching science and biology for administration and counselling. This past year, I have come to realize how much I enjoyed biology and missed it. I, too, am back to nature.


24 comments:

  1. Oh, no wonder you know so much! I appreciate this education of the trees, etc! In our last home, I convinced my husband to let the tree area keep the leaves and establish a forest floor. It was that way when we moved in but we removed everything to try to get grass growing....which the grass couldn't grow. The squirrels and birds enjoyed the forest floor being back so they could look for the tree's seeds in the leaf beds! Andrea

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    1. More than the information, my love of science helps me look closely at the forest, Andrea. That is the best part for me.

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  2. Fascinating! As the circle of life always is.

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  3. We see that witch's butter in our forests here. It's fascinating, what causes our forests to thrive, isn't it? Love your post today, and I love the forest, too. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Jan. I love the forest asyou do.

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  4. Year ago, I intended to have a career in biology, specifically botany. Following unforseeable circumstances in my life, In its place I majored in the social scienes, specifically demography.

    Dad had a BS in Forestry and Soil Conservation. Hence, I learned early in my life as I walked through the forests with him just how important trees are. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

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    1. You are welcome, SS. I love the forest too, such a rich place.

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  5. Enjoyed your post and pictures. On my last woodsy walk we came across several "nurse" trees, those storm downed trees that have become hosts to new little evergreens. Thanks for all the information. Amazing stuff.

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    1. Too bad you didn't get a photo of that tree, Celia. It would be great!

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  6. Yes. And we can learn from the forests, and gain serenity and calm in them.

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    1. They are a treasure trove, EC. Peaceful and beautiful!

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  7. When we were children, our vacations always were "back to nature." We did not go to "tourist attractions," though there were precious few of those back then. There was Gatlingburg or Niagara Falls, and my mother drove miles out of the way (no interstates back then, either) to avoid Gatlingburg. We did see Niagara Falls. Anyway, we hiked miles of trails, looking at the flora and the fauna.

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    1. You had great adventure as a child. How fortunate you were!

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  8. ...and sharing it with us too. Thank you.

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  9. I heard that pine needles mulch was what makes the azaleas at The Masters Golf Tournament so large, and here in California azaleas are so small. So I tried it. Nothing. Nada. ;)

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  10. I had never heard about the possible effect of pine needles on azaleas. Too bad it didn't work, SW.

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  11. Good perspective! I remember the Old Man's Beard from our very first trip to the Maritimes, when I was about ten.

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  12. Thanks, FG. Old man's beard was everywhere on that trail!

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  13. There is nothing like a forest to fill your soul.

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    1. I so agree, Barbara. I will miss the forest for the next few months.

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