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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NURSE LOGS




Healthy standing trees are a tribute to our natural environment. But even in their fallen state on the ground, trees perform nobly as re-generators of our forest environment.



When one of these beautiful trees falls in the forest either from storms, age or intentional human intervention it usually begins a new life as a nurse log

Above is a portion of a log that has become a nurse log. It has probably been lying in this spot for many years. As you can observe the tree bark is almost completely hidden with growth -- it's top growth leaving little to see of its bark near the ground.

One can be found just down the road from where I live. I will take you along to visit the fallen forest tree and all its goodness that it provides for the environment.


nurse log with beginning plant life

Here is how a nurse log begins. Eventually, over time a soil mat begins to build upon the log from decayed material. This encourages other life forms to visit and adds nutrients to the mat. 


Fungi and moss on a nurse log

Soon a diverse growth pattern can be abundantly found on the log as it works in a symbiotic way with nature. Wildlife reacts with the decaying log -- such as insects and spiders. Birds interact with the insects for food while using the decaying wood for nesting materials. 


Symbiotic relationships are active within the log community securing the survival of the dependent wild users. There are so many interactions within this one small community that I cannot really cover them all in this post.



wildflowers on nurse log

Wildflowers emerge on the log to attract insects




Brown and gray Bracket fungi

One very important wild user of the nurse log is the bracket fungi. They begin to emerge along the log's trunk or branches consuming the wood. They are more diverse in old forests than in younger managed forests or tree plantations.  (Wikipedia)



semi circular multi-colored Bracket fungi


Bracket fungi often grow in semi-circular shapes. Many develop beautiful multi-colored circles that are annual growth rings. They are dependent on trees for survival -- deforestation causes decline in their numbers and diversity. Some are near extinction. (Wikipedia)

No two nurse log communities are alike it seems. Next time on one of your trails look for a nurse log -- they are full of all kinds of natural surprises. 

17 comments:

  1. Isn't it wonderful to see that all things have their purpose in life?

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    1. Yes it is wonderful to see all the things that have a purpose. I like finding out the purposes and what benefits. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  2. Thanks for the illustration in words and wonderful photos about the interdependence and complexity of life. I never heard the phrase "nurse logs" before. Somehow using those words will remind me to look more closely when walking in a wooded area.

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    1. June -- You can find out more about nurse logs under Wikipedia online. I walk my dog Daisy down to the nurse log almost every day to observe any natural changes. Hope you are able to find a nurse log along your walks -- thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  3. Your old logs are greener than ours, but we also get all the plants that you have. We are required by law to leave logs lying as they fall in either water or woods and can only remove them by permit.

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    1. Tabor -- I am not sure what state you live in -- maybe Florida? I find it interesting that by law one cannot remove logs lying as they fall be it land or water. Why was this law instituted -- do you know? thanks for the comments -- barbara

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  4. Lovely photos of part of nature that I usually take for granted. Now my next walk I'll be looking for nurse logs. Thanks!

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    1. Barbara -- You live in a beautiful natural area where I would imagine such logs could be found. Like how you have updated your posts into one blog. Nice layout with lots of interesting reads and photos. -- barbara

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  5. I see the same thing going on in the woods around me, but it all seems so much dryer. How moist and lovely your nursery tree seems.

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    1. Joanne -- Perhaps why it seems more moist here is that I live in a temperate rainforest area. However, speaking of dry, this area is supposedly experiencing a dry season as compared to how it usually is. Hope it doesn't last as I love the lushness of this area. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  6. Nice series. Such diversity in a small place!

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    1. Melissa -- Amazing that when a soil pad is opened up for occupancy, that all this diversity of plants jumps into the scene securing a patch for themselves -- all with beautiful results. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  7. A perfect example of the wonderful circle of life - the endless cycle of birth, death, and renewal. Nature is a marvel - nothing is wasted and everything is necessary and has a purpose that benefits everything around it. We can learn a lot just from observing a nurse log :) thank you for sharing another wonderful, thought provoking post.

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    1. Starr -- You put the cycle I observed so nicely in your comment. Once one begins to truly observe nature like you do they realize that nature is a great benefactor. No matter where one lives they can always find nature waiting to be discovered by their inquiring mind. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  8. I'll be looking for these next time I'm at the Oregon coast. I remember the bracket ferns.

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    1. Hattie -- this particular nurse log did not have any bracket ferns -- however not all nurse logs have the same plants growing on them. Mother Nature chooses not us. Right now this place is so busy with different kinds of birds -- I bet you get lots of different birds where you live. -- thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  9. How wonderfully fascinating! There is so much I don't know...I love how knowledge of an observed subject heightens our observations!! Bravo!!

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