Fallen Cucumber Tree - Four Years later
September 14, 2009
Edward Frank


In the late winter of 2004-2005, likely around February 2005 a large cucumbertree fell along the Red Eft Trail at Cook Forest State Park, PA.  A measurement of the tree a couple years previously found it to be 111.2 feet tall and 11.6 feet in girth.

http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldtrips/penna_cook_forest/cook_no... What makes this tree particularly interesting is that a tree ring count of cookie cut from the fallen trunk about 21 feet from the base yielded 439 rings, making it the oldest cucumber tree ever documented.  Below is a series of photos showing the tree as it is today, colonized by a wide variety of plants and fungi.  Also a large toad hopped under the log while I was taking these photos.  There are many photos, but I have hideously compressed them for this message.

 Overview of trunk and limb pieces

 slime mold growing on section of trunk

 ferns, puffball, and moss

 grass, moss and lichens

 spider silk in a notch


cup fungi

 base of standing stump

 lichens and moss on smaller limb

 small birch sprout

ferns and moss




 eastern hemlock

 red maple

 fungus on a pine limb broken by the fall

Some of you might not appreciate this exploration of the decay of a single log, but some of you will.  I would encourage each of you to spend a couple hours exploring the biota of a single fallen log and see what you find.

Ed Frank

"To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again" - Ralph Waldo Emerson