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The Perfect Tree

April 18, 2022

Every now and then you see a tree which captures your attention. You do not know why you found it, because you were not really looking for it. The tree captures your attention first, then you have that ‘aha’ moment. A few years ago, I found a massive pear rivaling the state champion near my farm. It looked an oak tree from afar until it blossomed. I had a hard time convincing a local farmer it was a pear. Over the course of 50 years he never saw it. To me it was a giant exclamation point of a pear.  Growing out of pure sand, that tree was perfect to me representing what a pear could be outside of human cultivation. The fruit was delicious and blemish free. I collected seeds of it and now have fruiting trees of it in my orchard.  Every now and then my friend stops in and says “where is that oak tree?”  I know he does that to rile me up in my rather confined world of trees.

I noticed there are  tree contractors working near the Kalamazoo River where they are removing willows and silver maples. I have no idea why but when the trucks pull in front of me, I see a couple of perfect trees being hauled off. Growing near the river, the willows develop a rather cork screw type of look to them showing their muscles of sinew and lignin.  Usually the trunks are short but thick. The willow is the perfect tree reflecting those specific laws of nature near the river.  You could never replicate that if you tried. Willows branches break off by design and float down river and establish in other areas where few plants can withstand flooding for long periods.  This is a perfect system system with a perfect tree  to fulfill those ecological conditions. I do not understand the reason for their removal but they are loosing the benefits of those wonderful trees.

For years, I have driven by two giant apricot trees near a Michigan highway. They are way off along a secondary road that I can see but have no idea how to get access. So with Google maps in tow, I hope to stop this year and check them out in flower. If the trees are still there, they appear to be at least 3 ft. in diameter. But I could be wrong. When I see them, I immediately think this is the most magnificent perfect apricot I have ever seen. This is much like seeing a large fish. Over time it seems to get bigger. My brother is well known for this behavior. Every time he would loose one, that fish was immense. Everyone soon realized we would have to convert from his measurement system to real measurements. Nature does have a sense of humor as he always did catch the largest fish.

Once while helping my father who was in the hospital, I had to park quite a distance from the main entrance. When I came out to go home at night I spotted what appeared to be the straightest and largest black locust I had ever seen. The size seemed to be at least 5 ft. in diameter.  But then again that could be my fish story as I was standing about 500 ft. away in the dark.  Growing out of gravel, the original homes and buildings were long bulldozed out but they left the tree in the middle of a parking lot. It was a magnificent silhouette. I still haven’t found it yet, but did give it a shot last week during the day. I plan to go back again and check for seeds. For some reason I find perfection in trees that people seem to hate too. Such is the black locust where it is considered an invasive species in Michigan.  You never know what level of ignorance you might find surrounding perfect trees. How can we harness the power of this tree and what benefits does it bring to humanity as a whole?



When I went in to get a haircut, I did not see this tree. I whisked by it along the sidewalk. When I came out, I was shocked.  How did I not see this?  Siberian elm is not considered a desirable tree. Mention it in tree circles and be prepared to be ostracized.  Yet, this specimen had no dead wood in it. It had no fractures or narrow crotch angles to speak of. Possibly it was damaged when it was younger only to callus over at hyper-speed. A couple of burls and a leaning trunk moving away from the sidewalk and nearby building, this tree has been around the block. It is the block. There are few trees growing nearby except a couple of struggling sugar maples. Casting shade over the road, building and sidewalk, this is the tree we need for cooling down our cities and towns. Luckily this plant lives in many hybrids with the American elm where it imparts its immunity to Dutch Elm disease. Could it be used more? Of course, it is perfect but we have not caught up yet with our understanding of the value of such a magnificent tree and its perfection. In the meantime, I plan to collect seed of this giant and quietly share it with the world.

  What perfect trees have you found?

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