April 09, 2009
This tree "tumor," "ulcer" or "burl" was encountered while we were hiking a short section of the Appalachian Trail, near Front Royal, Virginia (off the Skyline Drive) in March 2009. This was one of the largest tumors I had ever seen! It appears that they’re rather like benign tumors in animals, possibly growing as a response to an injury or an invasion by bacteria or a virus of some kind. At the crudest possible level of description, cancer is the uncontrolled proliferation of cell growth – the normal mechanisms of inhibition are overruled or "turned off," in this case as a result of the injury. Curiously, it also appears that the trees with these growths are not harmed to any significant degree.