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.