This oak tree grows smack in the middle of one of the trails we use for forest ecology class.
Recently during a botany class I stopped here to talk briefly about how the only part of a tree trunk that’s really crucial to the tree’s survival is the layer of xylem and phloem underneath the bark, with the heartwood basically being dead. Despite its hollow base, you see, this tree is alive and well.
No idea what damaged the tree’s base – fire? Unlikely. Disease? Perhaps someone doing trail maintenance, considering its location? Anyway, hollow trees spark the imagination; it seems like something must be living in there. During the aforementioned botany class, I asked the group of high school students if anyone wanted to stick their head in the hole and see if they could tell how far up the open space went, and to my great surprise one girl took me up on it. Unfortunately, she reported that it was too dark inside the tree to see anything. So recently when passing by I decided to turn on my camera flash, aim upward into the heart of the tree, and see what I could discover.
Nothing earth-shattering, just some shelf fungus, but I like the photo. Getting the edge of my face through the opening was an accident, but an interesting one.