Veteran Tree 5 – Beech

Woodland Trust Veteran Tree Id: 202232

Grid ref SJ 41356 88568    W3W ///vase.alive.detail  

Veteran Tree 5 is a large beech tree between the main path and the fields.

Ancient Characteristics

Girth: 4m 10cm

This tree is well known by visitors to the woods not just because of its size, and it is very impressive with a girth of 4m 10cm, but because of its wonderful display of fungus.

A beech of this girth will be roughly 240 years old and coming to the end of its life.

This artist’s polypore (Ganoderma australe) has been on the tree for roughly 5 years, renewing itself each year, but this is just the fruiting body of the organism. Within the heartwood of the tree is the mycelium from which the fruiting body grew. Ganoderma australe is a wood-decay fungus that softens the heartwood as it progresses, making the tree more likely to break. By the time the fungus appears the mycelium already has a stronghold on the heartwood of the tree.

At the base of the tree amongst the roots, brackets appear again showing that the rot inside is extensive. This is to be expected in trees at the end of their lives and is an important characteristic as it marks the start of the hollowing process that is so important in providing the unique habitat found in ancient trees.

The roots are also full of deep holes and crevices which are the homes for all kinds of insects. The insects that are at the bottom of the food chain bring in predators that feed on them such as bats and birds and the environment is enriched by the presence of the veteran beech tree.

This very tall tree has lost many of its branches leaving scars on its trunk and debris all around it. Another characteristic of a tree that has reached the veteran stage of its life and is nearing the last stage, that of an ancient tree.

 B Cameron

All photographs are the author’s own.

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