Now I fear Tree is ill. Perhaps it's just old age, but either way, Tree doesn't look well. As dormancy began last fall, Tree's leaves dropped far too quickly, and this spring they have been slow to re-emerge.
I asked our emeritus botanist extraordinaire to take a look at Tree the next time he was on campus. Here are some excerpts from what he wrote me:
This is Carpinus caroliniana: American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, or Ironwood. Birch family. Native to eastern North Americana. Rarely any insect or disease problems.
The site is wet enough, though this is naturally an understory tree with dappled shade. It’s male flowers were produced in early April, and it now has many female flowers. Life span is usually 50-60 years, so it is a “senior citizen.” This specimen was likely planted in mid-1960s.
Three of the large branches are in sad shape with internal rotting as evidenced by those cut previously and by the large hole on the side of the trunk. These are dying and should be removed. The bark at the base of the tree on the south side is dead and flaking. Not a good sign. There is evidence of a good deal of internal decomposing wood.
Alas, Tree is not well. The pruning has been completed, and other modes of treatment, if there be any, are being explored.
Stay tuned and please send your positive thoughts to Tree.