Not a very good picture, I realize. This tree had been thriving on the western border of our land, not too far from our entrance. This also happens to be where my neighbor’s grass fire got out of control and reached into our forest last spring. It’s a goner now. That’s part of the reason the ground below it is so green. Sunlight is getting down there.
Part of me wants to take this tree down and cut it into firewood — to finish the job the grass fire began. But it will serve a better purpose as a standing snag. Perhaps woodpeckers will open holes in the tree for nest cavities. Then fungus will get inside and continue the excavation work. Eventually the branches will all break off and rejoin the soil. The snag may remain standing for decades, or it may come down suddenly in a storm. Either way, it’s part of the natural cycle at Roundrock (and elsewhere, they tell me).
Next spring, I plan to have another 25 short-leaf pine trees delivered. Some I will use in the existing pine plantation to replace the four that have died. A few I will plant here and there in the forest, more or less as experiments. And I wouldn’t mind having a stand of them here at the entrance. They could reach up and fill the open space that this tree has left behind. I just hope no ground fires come again very soon.