ORICK, Calif. — Hikers stumbled upon a stunning sight on the Berry Glen trail in Humboldt County last week: a tree growing from the overhanging limbs of another tree, suspended above the hiking trail.
"It's hard to tell from the photo, but this tree appears to be a western hemlock or Sitka spruce," Licensed Forester and Capstone Lecturer at Humboldt State University Gary Rynearson said via email. "Both species of trees commonly grow in the understory of closed canopy forests and are very tolerant to growing in the shade of the overstory trees."
Rynearson said decomposing twigs, leaves and needles gathered atop the base tree, creating enough "moist duff" in the "constantly wet environment" to allow seeds to germinate and develop a root system.
"This tree is growing in a layer of duff that was captured by the overhanging limb," Rynearson said.
The Berry Glen trail, which is in the Redwood National and State Parks system, connects Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Lady Bird Johnson Grove via a 3-mile walking path.