Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf Tree?

You don’t see wolves in our forests anymore but if you’re lucky and know what to look for, you may find a wolf tree. Wolf tree is the name given to an old pasture tree that became surrounded by young forest after the field was abandoned. They are large, old trees with wide-spreading branches that once grew in full sun. They often have broken crowns, dead limbs and tree cavities.

These old trees were dubbed wolf trees by foresters of the last century. They were looked at as being unsuitable for harvesting and for “stealing” valuable forest resources from younger trees.

Did you know that wolf trees are recognized as valuable wildlife habitat? They’re considered prime forest real estate – the Beverly Hills of forest accommodation. Their cavities are used by various species such as flying squirrels, wood ducks, raccoons and porcupines. Their dead branches host wood-boring insects, which attract birds such as woodpeckers and brown creepers.

Wolf Tree

You’re probably wondering how wolf trees are valuable to humans. Well they connect us to our agricultural heritage and remind us that nature has the amazing ability to recover.

CVC has deemed wolf trees a significant part of our natural and cultural heritage. We’ve catalogued several wolf trees in the Credit River watershed through our Natural Areas Inventory program. Adventurous CVC staff travel the entire watershed and catalogue the amazing flora and fauna that make up our local environment. Their work allows us to learn more about the environment and how it changes over time.

This work is only possible with the cooperation of landowners allowing access to their properties. So the next time you hear a knock at the door, don’t assume it’s the big bad wolf! It may just be a friendly CVC staffer trying to learn more about the land we love.

Comments (1)

  1. Nice piece!! it wasn’t that long ago that MNR was recommending cutting down these wolf trees….times have changed!! thank goodness! These old trees gave more biodiversity than any other tree in the forest! See Karen Stagoll(2012)

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