Sunday, June 22, 2008
Redwoods make very attractive landscaping trees, and are suited to the dry summer, wet winter cycle of their home territory. As they grow skyward, they put out a lot of branches to collect as much sunlight for energy as they can. As they grow further on up, the abundant branches now lower on the tree can't all catch as much sunlight as before, so some of them wither and die, while others grow stronger and spread out further from the trunk. It's a way for the tree to focus its growth near the top where it brings the most return, and this self-pruning is natural for a healthy tree. However, when a stout wind comes up, or even if a butterfly lands as a final "straw," these dead branches will fall to the ground. When the early loggers worked in these woods, they discovered that cutting activities around the base of the tree would also shake down dead branches that may have hung up on still living branches overhead. In a day without hardhats or other safety procedures, these projectiles earned the name "widowmakers". It's something to know about if you're going to live this close to a redwood.
I have added some pictures of the "widowmaker" that inspired this post on my Overflow blog.