The ineluctable spirit of nature

Cosán Coille no. 3, watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Cosán Coille no. 3, watercolour on Arches paper, 2018

Maybe you can correct me here but I have at the back of my mind, a story about a pair of elderly trees in the grounds of Trinity College.  They were Oregon Maples, if I remember correctly, and they stood in Library Square, the oldest trees on campus.

It is said that they grew from the first consignment of seed brought back to Ireland by David Douglas in 1827, but then suddenly, one of them collapsed in the early hours of Saturday morning, 2nd of June, last year. It was all over the social media…

photo of fallen tree in Trinity College Dublin
photo from Trinity College website

Nobody knows why it collapsed that night. And then I heard that the second tree had died as well, in mourning perhaps, for its lifelong companion (or perhaps the roots were connected underground). I read recently about how the health of forest ecosystems is regulated by “Mother trees” that control the fungal networks underground, which in turn regulates the nutrient flow from one tree to the next (read more about it here).

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of tree stump in Trinity College Dublin

The tree surgeons will talk about different wood-decaying fungi (Ganoderma applanatum / australe or Bjerkandera adjusta) that had infected the trees but I don’t know – is it possible that they grew up together and then could not live apart?

And I read somewhere that the remaining stumps had been cleaned and sanded so that the tree-rings could be counted and studied. But wait, I was in there last week and one old stump has come to life again!  See my photo above.

Ah, nature – we live in Hope…



  1. The fact that the trees were quite sheltered by the surrounding buildings may have left them vulnerable to a strong gust. Trees respond to their situation and wind buffeting which strengthens and controls the layers they put on to survive their particular environment.

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