05.20.2015 Hemlock Blaze Scar

While hiking Monday I came across this damage to a hemlock tree.  I did not know what caused this so asked a forester friend on Facebook, Kate Marquis, if she knew and it turns out that these are property line markings…blazes.  We see blazes most often as painted shapes leading us on a trail, but sometimes the trees will actually receive cuts as permanent markings.  Over the years they heal and look like this when on a hemlock (Tsuga sp). Sometimes there might be paint within the cut but in this case not or it has just worn away over the years…a reason for a cut rather than just paint.

Hemlock-Bark-051815-700WebI like both the color and rippled texture around the edges and made a couple of abstracts.


Hemlock-Blaze-Scar-2-051815-700WebWhen I saw cuts/chops in tree bark over the years I just figured it was a bit vandalous.   As it turns out, there can be a good reason for the practice.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Abstract, Closeup Photography, Environment., Intimate Landscape, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to 05.20.2015 Hemlock Blaze Scar

  1. shoreacres says:

    It certainly helps to explain that phrase about “blazing a trail,” doesn’t it? I wonder how many people hear the expression, or even use it, without understanding its original meaning?

    I especially like the two abstracts. The middle photo reminds me of the shore. It’s remiiscent of shells I find there, particularly certain kinds of clam shells.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett, has this for the word blaze:

      “In traversing the dense forests of the West, a person would soon lose his way and find it difficult to retrace his steps without some land-mark. This is effected by cutting a piece out of the side of trees at a sufficient distance from each other to enable the traveller readily to discover them and thus follow the direct path or road. Such a mark is called a blaze, and trees thus marked are said to be blazed.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am sure that the majority of folks don’t know the history behind the phrase, Linda. I think it is probably true of many phrases as well as words in general.

      When I first noticed the scar, the shell was what got my attention. I did a closeup of just that feature, but decided it was a better composition with the smaller feature included. There is a definite resemblance to your linked picture.


  2. Jim in IA says:

    Very interesting healing patterns to the wounds. I assume you could count the concentric layers to find out when the wound was made.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose so although it pains me to see it. We used to come across them in the forests out west.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Always learn something from your blog and now know that folks mark property lines with a disfigured tree. I grew up in the country but never have I seen any property that was marked by trees. Just maybe there had been and those trees had long been lost to decay. All I saw in the past were barbed wire fences and lots of it.

    The photos are great and show the ugliest and the beauty of a blazed tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The fan-shaped feature in the second picture looked to me like an oyster shell. Then, perhaps because I watched the movie Cairo Time last night, the shape suggested both the delta of the Nile River and a stylized Egyptian lotus:


    Abstractions can make it easy for people to see what they will.


  6. The texture is quite interesting indeed

    Liked by 1 person

  7. krikitarts says:

    I’m also a fan of the abstract–in fact, I found your second image reminiscent of alluvial fans. Thanks for clarifying the history of blazing. I might have been tempted to fan that fire a bit, but I decided that that might have been perceived by some as barking up the wrong tree. It’s also interesting to see that Jim’s thought about aging the blaze turned out to ring true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had always been under the impression that the only tell-tale rings were inside the tree…and the neck of my work shirts…so it was nice to learn about the hemlock’s individuality.


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