Many have asked why the large Hemlock at the end of the Pond Trail was cut down. Janet Bumstead, a member of FALPS’ Board and docent at the Nature Museum took these photos and offered this explanation. Thanks Janet!
In case you wondered why the hemlock tree at the end of the Pond Trail in Peoples State Forest was removed it is because, unfortunately, the tree had died, posing a safety threat from falling limbs.
The first sign that there was something wrong appeared a couple of years when the tree’s bark was shredding off. (Picture 1).
Some time later, the problem worsened and bark littered the ground around the tree. (Picture 2).
Eventually, all the bark was off and the tree was dead (Picture 3).
My arborist consultant and daughter, Alissa, explained why the tree may have died:
The bark coming off is usually caused by birds and other animals going after insect larva. As far as what actually caused it to die, it may have been weakened by the wooly adelgid* (right) and scale on the needles, or a fungus, and then, within its weakened state, was taken over by other insects inside the trunk.
The tree will be missed but now, looking on the bright side, we now have a table to go along with the bench!
*In the early 1950s, a small, aphid-like insect was first observed feeding on hemlock in Virginia. This insect was the hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA)–an exotic pest native to Japan and China. It has since spread to 17 Eastern States where it attacks two species of hemlock–the Eastern and Carolina hemlocks. The HWA is responsible for extensive mortality and decline of hemlock trees in the Eastern US. The insect has steadily spread from its point of introduction and is a serious threat to survival of hemlocks throughout Eastern North America. The potential ecological impacts of this exotic insect pest can be compared with those of the Chestnut blight.