How did it get its craggy shape?
The answer will be speculative – but likely true.
At least two hundred years ago, another tree grew just to the left of this tree. That tree (now gone) became a big old monster, and the Z tree grew up literally in its shadow. At first, the Z oak grew fairly straight, but as the older tree grew and spread, the Z oak had to reach out more and more to the right to get its light.
Then something dramatic happened – at just about the time when the second big branch on the right was forming. The big tree died, or was blown over, or got chopped down. At that point, huge light was available to the east, and a new trunk-like branch headed straight left to soak it up.
Great job, tree! There’s something righteous and moving in how the struggle, determination and triumph of an ancient tree can be openly revealed in its architecture.
(This tree of noble character is near the beginning of the Outer Loop trail, in the southeast corner of Somme Prairie Grove.)