The McDowell Basswood

by Carl Strang

 

On several occasions I have been in conversations with people who are familiar with both the Forest Preserves in DuPage County and with trees, and one of us has mentioned a particular basswood at McDowell Forest Preserve, and the other has recognized the reference immediately.

 

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The basswood is a tree that commonly has new trunks sprouting from the roots of an existing individual. Often, when the stem of a large tree is killed the roots will persist and send up new shoots. That appears to be the case here. In the above photo you can see the shoots radiating out from what may have been the edges of the original trunk. They are similar in age, and so they have been growing up together. What draws the attention of the tree fancier is the large diameter of this circle of daughter stems. They inspire the imagination because they suggest that the parent tree was enormous. We’re talking about a trunk that may have been 5 feet or more in diameter at the base and, if so, would have vied for the largest known individual of that species, anywhere. I would have loved to see that tree. If you wish to examine the ring of daughters, go to McDowell. Look to the east riverbank just downstream from the entrance bridge.

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