Texas Gardening forum: Wolf Trees

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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Aug 11, 2013 2:58 PM CST

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I was going through some old notes to toss from Master Gardeners' classes. There was a reference to a "wolf tree." My notes say "it's one that is about to die. It starts putting out lots of seeds because it's dying, but they're not good seeds." I had no recollection of a wolf tree, so I Googled it last night. The explanation in my search was that it was a tree at the edge of a clearing that was able to grow without being crowded by other trees and vegetation for competition. It also said that because they may be the tallest tree around, they sometimes are hit by lightning which damages the top of the tree and makes it grow into strange shapes.

I don't think I've ever actually seen a wolf tree, but I'd like to. The photos of them are oddly attractive. How could I have gotten this old without knowing what a wolf tree is? Have you seen a wolf tree?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
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porkpal
Aug 11, 2013 4:48 PM CST
My huisache trees are putting out a lot of seeds; I certainly hope they are about to die AND that the seeds are no good.
Porkpal
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Aug 11, 2013 6:41 PM CST

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Yeah, but huisache just don't cut it as wolf trees! Whistling
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Aug 11, 2013 8:20 PM CST
Decidedly not scenic!
Porkpal
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 16, 2013 7:42 PM CST

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How interesting! If I'm understanding this right, a wolf tree is not a specific kind of tree but rather any tree that grows in a certain environment under certain conditions.

Wolf trees are the result of having grown in an open area. In many cases these trees were once in or at the edge of an open field. Wolf trees were initially left when forest was cleared to create a pasture or they got their start in an existing pasture and somehow managed to remain despite their cleared surroundings. Since a wolf tree once grew free of competition with other trees they were able to grow wide, broad crowns.


Source: http://www.publiclandjournal.com/new-england/wolf-tree

Did you ever see the movie Shawshank Redemption? The box of cash that was buried along the wall, under the tree. That was a wolf tree, if I'm understanding this description correctly. Same with the tree in the movie "Robin Hood" (with Kevin Kostner). The deer hunting boy was treed into a wolf tree.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Aug 16, 2013 8:27 PM CST

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From what I understand, a wolf tree can be a tree that survives a fire when the surrounding trees are killed off. It can grow in all directions and reach higher than anything around it, as it has no competition. That also makes it susceptible to lightning strikes because it's the tallest thing in the area. They also tend to die from the inside out which makes them dangerous to leave up. I didn't find any reference to wolf trees throwing seeds, though.

If you Googled wolf tree, you would have seen the photos of them. I have been looking at the trees along Barton Creek since I found my notes. I've spotted one gnarly looking oak tree by the bridge that could be a wolf tree. The next time the tree trimmers are in our neighborhood, I'm going to ask the foreman about them. I bet there are some in Bastrop now after the fires a couple of years ago.

Saw The Shawshank Redemption, but too long ago to remember details.

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