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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Lotus Pond Wingnut

Every once in a while I come across a tree that makes me stop and stare in awe, and the Lotus Pond Wingnut was one of those trees. I had not set out looking for the Wingnut, but found it while exploring the grounds of Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, KY.

Wingnut Tree The tree is a Caucasian Wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia). I call it the Lotus Pond Wingnut because it grows in the Lotus Pond section of the Cemetery.

Wingnut Seeds

The Wingnut name is dervied from the literal observation of its winged seeds.

Wingnut Catkins
Catkins could be seen on the tree during my visit.
Wingnut Bark
Wingnut Bark
Wingnut Scale
I stand infront of the tree to show the scale of its width.

One of the factors that makes this tree so impressive is the size of its trunk. It is recorded have a circumference of 21'6", that is over 6 and a half meters. The other factor that makes this tree unusual is its type. Wingnut trees are almost never planted in this part of the United States which makes them quite rare finds.

While most of the grounds at Cave Hill Cemetery are well groomed and pruned, this tree seems to be left to battle the English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Purple Leaf Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) on its own. I have some concern about what the ivy will do to the trunk of the tree over time. It will likely create a moist microclimate under the leaves will accelerate the growth of fungus and create more opportunity for pests and disease.

Ivy on Trunk
Ivy covers the trunk of the tree

Tree with Burrow
Perhaps the ivy is not all bad considering it helps to conceal the burrow of the tree's small furry guardian.

At the base of the tree a tunnel is hidden among the roots and vines.

Red Fox

As I stood infront of the tree a small red fox bounded out of the branches above me and jumped over my head. I had just enough time to regain my composure and turn to capture a photo as it ran across the lawn.

Tree top Tunnel

Under the limb a small tunnel of ivy shows the fox's secret hideaway.