Created By: South Hill Elementary School
How Can a Tree Hold Up a Small Cliff?
The roots of this tree are as strong as a concrete wall, anchoring soil and rocks on the side of the gorge.
Look at the J tree, whose trunk looks like the bottom of an old fashioned umbrella. Here’s how that happened. Step one: The shale of the gorge wall gave way, making the sandstone above it tilt towards the gorge. Crash! The tree fell down. Step two: The trees grows up to the sun as fast as your fingernail grows. Have you ever noticed that the plants at your windowsill bend to the sun? So does the J tree, even though it was once pointing down after it fell.
These J trees are hemlock trees. You can tell the tree by the nature’s mark, which is two white lines on the back of the needles. Hemlocks can be helpful too. For example, their sap can be boiled to be medicine, and you can build fires with the sticks. The trees provide shade in the gorge which is good for the fish so the fish can thrive.
Hemlock woolly adelgid is an insect from Japan. The Hemlock trees are in danger of being attacked and dying due to hemlock woolly adelgid.
What would the gorge look like if there were no more J trees?
This point of interest is part of the tour: Buttermilk Falls State Park Geology Tour