Veteran Trees

Owen Clarkin is an Ottawa naturalist and longtime admirer of the craggy Bur Oak and other “veteran trees” such as Rock Elms and Bitternut Hickorys that once dotted the landscape along the Ottawa River. He will be joining us as a blogger shortly,  so watch for some interesting stories and photos to come.

In the meantime, he has given me permission to share with you some google map links to fabulous Bur Oaks in Ottawa, outside of the Champlain Oaks neighbourhood.

Faraday Street in Kitchissippi has one of the biggest ones in Ottawa, not far from our neighbourhood. The deeper soils there make for larger trees than in places like Champlain Park where the soil is thinner and closer to the limestone bedrock. There are also big ones on Riverdale and in old Ottawa South and generally throughout our region.  As Owen notes, they should be treasured and allowed (encouraged) to reproduce, as should their associated species.

On this day of celebrating veterans, Owen suggests these trees are a bit like World War 1 veterans. He said,

“When I was a kid in the 1980s, I remember seeing WW1 vets at remembrance day events.  A few would die every year from old age but it could naively appear that there would “always” be some of them around next year, and the year after that, etc.  The last surviving one (worldwide) died in Feb 2012, at the age of 110.

“These trees are similar in a way.  If they’re not allowed to reproduce, then they get older and older and will typically live for 2-4 human lifetimes, if healthy.  But as they get old and die, they may not be replaced by younger trees of the same species, and they risk being essentially lost forever.  This is to me one of the major problems: these trees may naively appear as if they’ll “always” be there, but if we don’t replenish their populations, they’ll simply begin to disappear over the next few decades as a good percentage of the remaining ones are in late maturity…being planted as their “replacements” are Norway Maple, Littleleaf Linden, etc.”

Here’s to the veteran trees of today!

 

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