18 November 2019

Auprès de nos arbres

These photos are almost a week old already. Earlier, I mentioned that an unusually high number of trees have been dying or falling around our hamlet, including our little pear tree and two of our old apple trees. Below is a photo of a tree that's down on the north side of our property. It's not ours, so we don't have to do anything about it. I think it's an aspen — un tremble  — isn't it? The tremble is a variety of poplar.

The tremble is called that because the slightest movement of air causes its leaves to flutter and shake. It's a European species; the North American aspen is related but not exactly the same tree. I remember seeing big stands of aspens in Utah when I was there one year in October. Who knows why this European one suddenly toppled over...

It seems to be alive still. It's leaves are changing color, but not wilting or falling. And it's covered with buds (above). The aspen's roots are traçantes, according to Wikipedia — that means "creeping" or "running," according to the dictionary. So it has shallow lateral roots. That would explain why the trees can fall for no apparent reason.

Not far from the fallen aspen is a stand of pines — pins maritimes, I think, or some closely related species. If that's not right, let me know. (Same for the tremble. I don't pretend to be an expert.) I've seen these kinds of pines uprooted here by high winds. There was no significant wind when the nearby aspen fell over.

There are a lot of aspens, birches, pines, and black locust trees around the vineyard, but the most common plant we see here is the grape. Above is a grape leaf I noticed lying on the ground. I of course took these photos with my new/old Sony RX100 camera.

This is another sunset over the grapevines. Most of our days haven't been sunny recently, but forecasts say that's about to change. Sunny weather that might dry the ground out a little will give us plenty to do. We still haven't raked up any fallen leaves or pulled the stakes and dead plants out of the vegetable garden. By the way, I injured myself the other day, so I hope I'll be physically able to do some of the work. I'm definitely doing better this week than last.


  1. Sorry to hear you have injured yourself! You are taking some amazing photos with your new camera. The one with the grape leaf and the thin grasses is astonishing.We're just coming out of a much too early snowstorm and cold days where nothing melted, but it's warming up now - to the 40s.

  2. Thank you, Thickethouse, to spare me the time and effort :) I was going to write exactly the same thing, word for word, that you wrote in the first two sentences of your comment. Great minds...

  3. Oh, heavens, I'm wishing you quick healing.

  4. So sorry to hear about your injury. Take care and don’t over do.

    1. I’ve just switched to Google Chrome and now I can comment again. Yippee!

  5. Glad your injury allows you to walk still...hope you heal quickly. Dying trees are depressing to me. We used to have many wild dogwoods everywhere, but a few droughts are more than they can take. Those old grape vines are hopeful and beautiful!

  6. Ken sorry about your injury. Evelyn, I love dogwoods, so lovely in the spring. Sad to hear of droughts do them in.

    As for your aspen tree, my curiosity led me to the internet. "Sudden aspen decline," drought makes them susceptible to wood-boring insects. Also iron chlorosis..This disorder occurs when aspen trees can't take up iron from the soil to make chlorophyll. Also due to drought. Apparently a grove of aspens is a single organism. Who knew?

  7. In addition to what Diogenes says, I think it's possible for shallow-rooted trees to lose their footing, as it were, if the ground is too saturated.

  8. A few years ago in our city cedar trees that I remember from childhood suddenly toppled over - all of their roots exposed like a small plate under the tree. Explanations given were just as you stated, Emm! Too much rain and the above-ground portion of the tree was top-heavy for the root structure. Hope your root structure (feet!) aren't your problem, Ken. I played too much pickleball on Saturday and spent all day Sunday recuperating from all of the activity. One would think by this stage of my life I would know better!

    Mary in Oregon


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