F is for fallen

During the winter, the winds howl and they knock weakened trees over. The trees land on the ground in the forest and they sit there for years. Other trees, especially ash trees, become infested with invasive insects. They die and they either fall over or they are cut down.

Whether the tree has fallen over on its own or was cut down, that tree becomes home to a type of fungi called bracket fungi, which are hard and look like plates growing out of the tree. Although dead, the trees are teeming with life.


They are full of a variety of insects, including termites, butterfly larvae, beetles, ants, and wood wasps. As spring unfolds, insect life returns to the dead trees. Since dead trees are part of the landscape in the forest, they are still actively part of the cycle of life. 

And those trees will be part of the cycle of life for some time. Trees take many years to decompose, unlike food waste that goes into a compost bin. Trees contain lignin, which is a durable substance.

It lasts for centuries. According to this article in ScienceNordic (link: amazing facts about dead trees), there are mummified trees in northern Canada that are more than two million years old. When you’re out on a walk in the woods, take a look at the fallen trees and check out how many insects and fungi have made those trees their home.

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38 thoughts on “F is for fallen”

  1. Very interesting information. I've seen that stuff you're describing in such vivid detail but didn't know much about what I was seeing. There's more to the world than most of us think about most of the time.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  3. Virginia Allain

    I'm glad that I'm not the only one kneeling in the forest to photograph lichen and mushrooms. When I summer in NH, I do a lot of that.

  4. I don't know that I want to go looking for insects. But I am awed by the idea of million-year-old trees!

  5. I've seen that type of fungus. I always knew dead trees continued to benefit the forest community but never dreamed it was as extensive as this. Very nice post.

  6. I don't know about million year old trees on my property, but there are plenty that are down. It is interesting to stop and explore around them to see the changes from year to year. Sometimes the downed trees act as a refuge for small animals.

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