Petri Dish Stump

In December, we had two river birch trees removed from our landscaping. They were beautiful trees and the decision to remove them was an emotional battle. Finally the orders were given for the trees to be removed. Their roots are very invasive (didn’t know this ten years ago when they were planted) and we wanted to avoid complications in the future to our house’s foundation. I wrote about the tree in the front of the house earlier this month. That tree was a focal point in the landscape and is dearly missed.

The other tree was in our back yard. It sat in the corner, shading the house, but not in view from any window. Its loss was not mourned nearly as much as the front tree.

Recently we noticed something happening with the stump left behind. All of a sudden, it’s wet. Flies and bees buzzed to investigate this wet stump. I told my husband the tree was weeping. He didn’t appreciate my humor.


Within a day, the wet became filmy white. The liquid begian to ooze its way over the edge.



I stepped in to take a photo, and bubbles erupted from the rocks.

Look at the bottom, in the rocks. See that bubbling mass?

Look at the bottom, in the rocks. See that bubbling mass?

I step back and a foamy hole is left. I step forward, back, forward, back to watch the bubbles.

The bubbles popped and leave a hole.

The bubbles popped and leave a hole.

Several days later, the insects no longer buzz about the stump. It is still filmy but now we are adding other fungi to the film.


I don’t know when this show will end, but I’ll be checking every day to see the next development in stump slime. We have decided it is a Petri dish stump.



19 thoughts on “Petri Dish Stump

  1. Tam says:

    Oh, my, you have definitely caught my attention (nothing new though). Now you are scientifically writing. Where will this take you now? Our BONS writing group met last night with Ruth A., Mary Helen, Tammy S. Ruth M, and me. We talked about you and how you have grown as a writer and how wonderful your writing is. You are evolving before our very eyes–sweet!

  2. Elsie,
    You have a real gift for describing things you observe. I really appreciate that about your writing. Thank you for sharing your slice and your kind comments to so many of us each day!!

  3. Very bizarre and kinda cool too. Thanks for sharing the science experiment and reminding me of the one reason I should be thankful that spring is slow in coming – we don’t have bugs yet.

  4. Those pictures are amazing. I wonder if someone in the science department at you local college might be able to share some information. I often call our local county agent to ask questions. If you find out more I hope you will post about it.

  5. Yes, you have your very own science experiment going on in your yard. Who knows, one day you may publish your pictures and findings in a national science journal. It really is interesting seeing these changes. I look forward to future posts about your stump.

  6. There are certain fungi that help decompose things like fallen trees (and stumps) and that I guess is what’s happening. We had a huge influx of mushroom-like fungi one time around an aspen stump (related to birch). Love those pictures, Elsie. How interesting!

  7. That is weird! I’m sure you have googled this by now. Is this normal? What is it doing? What is the purpose of the slime and foam? Why were flies attracted? Wonderings and ponderings. These pictures would be fun to share with kids to see what they think is going on and why.

  8. Ewww! Sounds like one of those kind of weird interesting things. This week, while I’m on spring break, I have to get estimates to get a tree cut down in my backyard. It makes me really sad to think about it!

  9. rosecappelli says:

    Very interesting! I can connect with the loss of a tree. I have a favorite in my back yard which probably should have come down a years ago. It is misshapen and badly scarred from limbs it has lost, but it still blooms. I will be sad when it eventually has to go.

  10. Elsie,
    Wow! Interesting little science experiment outside in nature . . . Your labels on the pictures made me take a closer look. I’m so glad that this is NOT in your front yard! Now I’m wondering what the “critters” think of this petri dish!

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