We’re asked this so often, Jan decided to update everyone on Old Henry:

It took 20 kids to get around Old Henry in 1984

It took 20 kids to get around Old Henry in 1984

A frequent question posed to Nature Center staff is,   “Is Old Henry still here?”  Well, yes and no.   The huge tree which amazed children once encircled during field trips is gone.   But the lore and essence of Henry continues as new growth springs from his decaying remains.  Henry is now a nursery tree hosting a diversity of plants and small wildlife living in and on his remaining trunk that is scattered about the floodplain.

What's left of Old Henry's stump

What’s left of Old Henry’s stump

The broken stump  is rapidly returning to the earth as rich, composted soil. 

Although the standing tree has fallen, many still visit Old Henry’s site.  Each solstice Henry’s stump is encircled with corn and birdseed for wildlife, as it has been for dozens of years when this silver maple was a thriving tree.  Henry continues to be a stopping point on woodland field trips for school children.  

Old Henry nourishes many plants and animals as he decomposes

Old Henry nourishes many plants and animals as he decomposes

Even though the branches that offered homes and perches for birds, mammals and invertebrates are gone, Henry offers an important lesson on the value and role of decaying trees.   Visitors are still in awe at the girth of the decomposing trunk sections lying on the forest floor.  Many small creatures and plants thrive on the slow release of Henry’s stored nutrients.   BOld Henry New MapleLook close at the sections to see if you can find the small silver maple tree rooted in a pocket of compost on one.   Possibly it will become the next Old Henry.

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