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Heartwood with heart rot - it might not mean what you think it means

 
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Oh wow.

If you manage any kind of fruit tree, or even a woodland or forest garden, please read this.

Heart Rot: The bridge between ecology and horticulture



I have not managed a lot of trees, but still, I've always thought that heart rot in a tree means it's time to take it down - that it's a hazard.

That might not be the case. That heart rot might mean a self-fertilizing core for the tree. Seriously paradigm shifting.

I've posted other articles by Eliza Greenman here on permies - she has some epic viewpoints on ugly apples, mulberries, cider apples, and more.

Edited to add:  there is an amazing mycorrhizal perspective to this, so I've added this to the fungal forum in addition to all the tree and tree crops forums I could think of.
Edited again:  changed the subject from "heartwood or heart rot" to "heartwood with heart rot." Makes more sense.

 
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Really interesting article, Jocelyn. Thank you for sharing!
 
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Thankyou Jocelyn for sharing this.
 
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Super interesting, thank you for posting. Intuitively it's always seemed to me that hollow trees were worth keeping - if only for the wildlife benefit. I've also been aware that the living part of the tree is the cambium/sapwood, hence why (sometimes huge) hollow trees can appear perfectly healthy. What hadn't ever occurred to me was the self-composting idea, nor that the perception of hollow=bad might have come from a timber perspective!
 
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Excellent article Jocelyn. Thanks for sharing that.

I live in & help manage a Longleaf Pine conservation forest. Heartwood gets special respect around here. It makes excellent lumber. It is beautiful, very strong, & extremely weather resistant. This particular piece has been holding that bell for 60+ years. Never treated with anything & completely covered with rowdy Japanese Jasmine for about 30 years. Rowdy enough to bend the very strong metal frame. A piece of pine from sapwood would have been gone long ago. When old structures from old growth heartwood are taken down in this region people salvage every piece of it because it is highly prized wood.

https://longleafalliance.org/
heartwood-bell.jpg
[Thumbnail for heartwood-bell.jpg]
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Mike Barkley wrote:Excellent article Jocelyn. Thanks for sharing that.

I live in & help manage a Longleaf Pine conservation forest. Heartwood gets special respect around here. It makes excellent lumber. It is beautiful, very strong, & extremely weather resistant. This particular piece has been holding that bell for 60+ years. Never treated with anything & completely covered with rowdy Japanese Jasmine for about 30 years. Rowdy enough to bend the very strong metal frame. A piece of pine from sapwood would have been gone long ago. When old structures from old growth heartwood are taken down in this region people salvage every piece of it because it is highly prized wood.

https://longleafalliance.org/


What a cool story and image, Mike! Wow - to have a jasmine bend a metal frame IS rowdy! I'd agree that heartwood that solid and not showing signs of rot, **is** precious and it makes sense that it is the most sturdy.

For any who haven't read it yet, this article in the OP is about heartwood that has converted to heart rot and what that means for a tree. In other words, and as Mike clearly pointed out, heartwood does not equal heart rot. My subject line might be a bit misleading on that point.
 
Mike Barkley
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That metal frame is so strong it can't be bent back by hand. It will be heated & straightened then the metal will be sandblasted & painted fairly soon. Otherwise the pole will outlast the metal. I finished removing the rowdy vines shortly after that pic was taken in June. Some small vines were spared & they are starting to produce new leaves. A lantana plant that must have been hiding under the tangled mess sprouted. Now it is almost as tall as the pole & starting to form purple flowers. Will send another pic in another week or two when it is in full bloom. It could be spectacular. It is much larger than any other lantana here. The soil around that pole is wonderful. 30 years of decomposed leaves there. I intended to add more perennial flowers but not sure now. Want to see what happens on it's own first.
 
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Wow.
Great article , thank you for sharing it!
I particularly like the interaction between human and tree, where our intervention can aid the health and longevity of trees ,forests and soils.

It also revives my dream of living in a hollow tree, a dream born from reading "My side of the mountain " over and over again.
I might need to get comfortable with being surrounded by fungus...
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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William Bronson wrote:Wow.
Great article , thank you for sharing it!
I particularly like the interaction between human and tree, where our intervention can aid the health and longevity of trees ,forests and soils.

It also revives my dream of living in a hollow tree, a dream born from reading "My side of the mountain " over and over again.
I might need to get comfortable with being surrounded by fungus...



Yes! The ways that fungus aid so many different ecosystems and fertility cycles continues to absolutely amaze me. So yes, getting comfortable with fungus means, to me, getting more comfortable with all of LIFE.
 
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