A “nurse log” is a tree that has fallen and, in the process of decay and rotting away, provides nutrients and a substrate for other plants, including seedling trees, to root and grow. Eventually these plants overwhelm the nurse log which rots away and is completely replaced by the new growth. This photo of a nurse log in Olympic National Park, near Sol Duc Falls, was recently selected for use in a permanent exhibit at the Oregon Zoo to illustrate Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest natural history.
A fallen tree serves as a nurse log for new growth in an old growth forest of douglas firs and hemlocks, with forest floor carpeted in ferns and mosses. Sol Duc Springs.
Image ID: 13755
Location: Sol Duc Springs, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA