Dissection of red maple fusion

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Will Blozan
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Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:48 pm

NTS,

As promised here are a series of photos illustrating the process of fusion between two separate stems. It follows the fusion process over about 2 feet from where the piths were separated by an inch or so to where they "emerge" as two stems. Envision over time the fusion interface moving up the stems as each gain diameter. I have seen this happen for more than 26' in tuliptree (yes, I did laser measure it!).

First, the uncut section. Note the distinct bulge between the stems.
1- sample001.jpg
2- sample side001.jpg
A pith trace of the section. Clearly they are not joined within the sample.
3- pith trace001.jpg
The sections in order
4- sections in order001.jpg
I sliced the sample at ~1.5 inch intervals to allow the sequence of fusion to be seen. I would guess the piths diverged (i.e. a fork) about 8 inches lower than the first cut. This photo has details noted that will be easy to follow in subsequent photos. Note how the former bulge as recorded in the rings is more or less diffused into a concentric or more cylindrical surface as the tree grows. It's simple; a cylinder is the strongest shape so the sooner the form is recovered the better. Trees are smart!

1st cut
5- cut 1001.jpg
5- cut 1001.jpg (76.27 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
2nd cut
6- cut 2001.jpg
6- cut 2001.jpg (67.97 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
3rd cut
7- cut 3001.jpg
7- cut 3001.jpg (69.06 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
4th cut
8- cut 4001.jpg
8- cut 4001.jpg (66.83 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
5th cut- note a third stem has joined the group...
9- cut 5001.jpg
9- cut 5001.jpg (67.34 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
6th cut
10- cut 6001.jpg
10- cut 6001.jpg (72.96 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
7th cut
11- cut 7001.jpg
11- cut 7001.jpg (70.87 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
8th cut
12- cut 8001.jpg
12- cut 8001.jpg (66.41 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
9th cut
13- cut 9001.jpg
13- cut 9001.jpg (71.23 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
10th cut
14- cut 10001.jpg
14- cut 10001.jpg (76.92 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
Two stems!
15- two stems001.jpg
15- two stems001.jpg (90.54 KiB) Viewed 1106 times
Imagine a tree growing up against an object that limits its outward growth, like a rock or sidewalk edge. This is what is happening when the two stems push on each other as they grow in diameter. This wood needs to go somewhere so it bulges outwards. How the stems know to fuse is the mystery here. There is a lot of pressure and perhaps this indicates to the tree to fuse. Also, the pressure would seriously limit the outward growth of bark so I imagine the bark would get compressed and become thin allowing the cambial surfaces to be close enough to conjoin. If you think about it, when the stems first contact the bark is whatever age the stem is. Older stems have older, thicker bark (in most species). As the bulge expands it is with new, younger wood and thinner bark. Thus, this process should allow the cambium to be as close as they can get and fuse as easily as a one-year old stem. If they don't join the tree is likely to fail at that point.

And finally, a pitch pine below illustrates the same process and bulge. This fusion is 20' off the ground.
16- pine fusion001.jpg
Will

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DougBidlack
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:01 pm

Will,

were these two stems separate all the way to the ground or do they join just above the ground?

Doug

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Will Blozan
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:35 pm

Doug,

This section was taken from higher in the tree as an illustration of what can also happen at ground level. It is the same tree as I posted on a few days ago with three fused stems.

Will

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Don
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Don » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:55 pm

Will-
We could not have asked for a better illustration of what's going on inside of trees that have conjoined/inosculated/fused. I totally agree with your description of the displacement that goes on when forces press them together. It was cool following the path of branches from within, until they exited!
Would you permit us to use these photos/your expert description in the context of the American Forests MGWG while dealing with single-stem, multiple-stem issues?
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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Will Blozan
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:03 pm

Don,

Of course! Please use as you see fit. I am just trying to bring real-world examples of our discussions for review. Nothing better than seeing it for real and not speculating!

Will

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Rand
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Rand » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:40 pm

Will Blozan wrote:NTS,

Imagine a tree growing up against an object that limits its outward growth, like a rock or sidewalk edge. This is what is happening when the two stems push on each other as they grow in diameter. This wood needs to go somewhere so it bulges outwards. How the stems know to fuse is the mystery here. There is a lot of pressure and perhaps this indicates to the tree to fuse.
Will
One thing I wondered is, if in some cases the pressure of the growing wood on opposite sides of bark embedded in a V_shaped crotch be strong enough to fracture previously fused wood? At which point, might the tree literally pry itself in half instead of fusing?

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Don
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Don » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:53 pm

Rand-
A genetically undesirable trait, that prying itself apart, eh?
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
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Don
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Don » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:55 pm

Will-
Thanks! A quick question, was this red maple a single stem at groundline, or a multi-stem? At an inch, I am suspecting that it is two separate seed sources?
-Don

Will Blozan wrote:Don,

Of course! Please use as you see fit. I am just trying to bring real-world examples of our discussions for review. Nothing better than seeing it for real and not speculating!

Will
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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sam goodwin
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by sam goodwin » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:59 pm

This posting of fusion reminded me of a oak? stump I saw in Robinson State Park in Agawam, MA. The tree was knocked down by the tornado that past through the area. The stump is only about 1 foot high and the diameter is 3' 8" x 2' 9". The next 15' of the tree was blocking a trail and was removed. I think it was an oak. In the pictures you can see how the 2 trunks influenced each other. Both sides of the space between them has bark. Sam Goodwin
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Don
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Re: Dissection of red maple fusion

Post by Don » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:37 pm

Looks like the larger tree was on its way to 'inosculating'/encompassing the smaller stem...
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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