What’s in This Hollow Tree?

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.

4 thoughts on “What’s in This Hollow Tree?”

  1. Rebecca,
    Awesome find & picture looking inside the trunk.
    I have a tree near home that I’ve been watching. The bark was damaged by landscapers and all the bark about a foot up has now fallen off. I wonder as this tree grows if it will hollow out? It will be interesting to watch how it changes as time goes by. Good job (as always). Your blog is fun and educational. Till next time :)

  2. I have some advise about putting your head in a hollow of a tree!!
    In early May of last year while working in my yard, I was curious like you, about the large hollow that had been in the tree from some time , to how large it had gotten!!
    As I stood by it I thought I could hear a sound from inside!
    I went and got my camera , and a you placed it over the hole and to my surprise I had a photo of a Raccoon.
    Thinking it was hanging out there !! I was wondering if it might be still doing the same so went for a brave photo again, and found Momma with a baby…..my curiosity over took my stupidity…lol and I did the same in a week !! Low and behold three babies!!
    I have photos on my blog ,starting in May 2010 if your interested !!
    I don’t know if my blog spot will show up for you but you can e-mail me if you want or try

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