During a hike at Parker Dam State Park last year I noticed this hemlock, a tree on stilts.
Hemlocks have shallow root systems and can sprout easily in moist locations. Sometimes they sprout in the moss on top of a rock or stump and their roots follow the contour across the surface and become anchored in the earth nearby.
My guess is that this tree sprouted on a stump that decayed out from under it. The support disappeared after the hemlock’s root system was already established but the hemlock didn’t care. It sent down some new roots and just kept growing in place.
Hemlocks in this position are vulnerable in wind storms but this one is in the understory, surrounded and protected by many other trees.
It will probably surprise hikers on the Beaver Dam Trail for a long time to come.
(photo by Kate St. John)