The bark of trees, called periderm, consists of different layers crucial in keeping a tree alive. The most outer layer of the periderm, the cork cambium, produces cork that protect trees from bacterial and fungal infections.
As trees mature, the faster growing wood on the inside of the tree pushes against the slower periderm on the outside.
In some trees like the American beech the periderm just stretches and remains relatively smooth when the tree gets older. However, in most trees the periderm breaks apart and becomes inactive, and a new inner layer called the active periderm is formed underneath.
The reaction to the stress caused by the expansion of the inner wood is different for each tree species resulting in different characteristics and structures of the inactive or dead outer bark (rhytidome) and can vary depending on the age of the tree.
Several very dry summers (not this one!!!) has raised concern for the survival of recently planted trees. Until this year the drinking fountain near the sandbox was the only acces to water in the park. Our board member, Andrew Sutphen, remembered the existence of another drinking fountain in the park he used in his childhood. He did some nifty detective work to uncover the location of old water pipes in the park. They were still in good shape! With the assistance of the town and a plumber, we have access to municipal water in two more locations. To protect the soil around the water spigots, we surrounded each spigot with a small bed of small river pebbles. Future planting projects will become much easier to manage with easier access to water.
The American chestnut is a fast-growing tree best recognized by the distinct shape of its leaves and nuts enclosed in spiny burrs that break open and fall to the ground in autumn.
Before being wiped out by a fungus, the American chestnut dominated our forests and provided food and shelter for animals and people alike. Now, a new generation of blight-resistant chestnuts is being cultivated.
As part of the 60-year celebration of the Marquand Park Foundation in 2014, the American Chestnut Foundation donated and planted three newly cultivated seedlings in the park (see picture of seedling above). They all survived but after four years look very different. The tallest tree is bushy and narrow in shape. The second seedling has grown into a small tree with an elegant trunk and a more rounded crown. The smallest tree still looks like a seedling, is struggling and still fenced in to protect it from hungry deer.
A bookmark to commemorate the American chestnut will be available in the Treehouse library near the parking lot. For more information about the backcross breeding project of the American Chestnut Foundation, please consult www.acf.org.
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