Death and Renewal

Considering how alive a rainforest is, it’s probably not surprising there’s a lot of dying going on. Not even trees live forever, so some of these ancient trees are dying, as revealed by the fungi growing on their trunks.


Fungi are a common sight in any old-growth forest here in the Pacific Northwest, though I’d never seen many of the varieties I saw on this visit. When we weren’t looking up amazed at moss and ferns growing on the trees, we were pointing out strange varieties of fungi growing on the ground, like this,



or this.


My first reaction was merely to admire the beauty of these fungi. At home, I tried to identify them by searching through several of my books and online. I never could identify them, but while online I did discover that fungi

… play a critical role in nearly every ecosystem. They are key in recycling dead vegetation and making the nutrients available for the next generation of plant life. They provide a source of evolutionary pressure as plant pathogens, and help keep rampant monoculture plant populations in check.

I probably already knew that, but it served as a reminder that in a healthy ecosystem past and present are intrinsically linked, a concept perhaps best symbolized by the nursing logs:

Nurse Log

4 thoughts on “Death and Renewal”

  1. The last fungi photo makes me think of a flock of birds in flight, and I’m admiring the single tree portrait as well as the previous one, Loren.

    The last image of death and renewal is especially heartening.

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