Helpless historian

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by Historian, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. Historian

    Historian Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I'm doing some research on a tree which grows in Quebec City, Quebec. It grows in the Old Town district of the city,(upper town), and has an old cannon ball lodged in its base.
    As the photos I have are from links provided by someone else, they are they only ones I have and unfortunately not of good quality.
    What I'd look to find out is;
    What kind of tree is it?
    and
    Do you think it was alive in 1759 and if so, how wide would you guess the tree was at the time?
    CannonballtreeQuebec.jpg

    PQ_VQ_CannonBallTree.jpg
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Just based on the bark, I'd be inclined to think it was an elm tree. At which point, it could very well have been a seedling in the mid 1700s.... You could actually email the municipality of QC to see if they know anything about it; most Canadian cities keep fairly close track of heritage trees.

    Is there any way to make that first picture big enough to see the leaves, or is it only a tiny thumbnail?
     
  3. Historian

    Historian Member

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    Sorry, the photos are as is. But thanks so much for your reply. I may contact QC if it comes to that.

    I too think if the tree was around in 1759, it was probably way too small to, "Catch", a cannon ball in it's trunk.
    It seems to me that the tree grew around the ball which may have been buried in the ground.
     
  4. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Ridiculously foolish to guess from that pic but maybe Juglans cinerea?

    I think that the story of the cannonball from the late 18th C used as protection for a sapling is plausible. But I am no expert and have never seen a 250 yr old Walnut tree.
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I was just there last summer for the quadricentennial celebration. I recall seeing a tree with a cannon ball on one of the main streets close to the city centre, but I think it was a different tree! Did not really look close to see what type of tree it was.
     
  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Well, from what I recall from my last trip to QC, there are three or four trees with cannonballs in them, dating from the skirmishes around the battle of the Plains of Abraham.... I'd assume, from the size and condition of the trees, that they grew around the shot rather than having it embedded in them by cannon.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If the foliage shown in the tiny upper picture was visible it might be possible to tell what kind of tree it was. All it would take for the shot to be partly covered by the tree would be for someone to have seen the opening and stuck the ball in there at any point since the tree had enough size for this to be possible. There is quite a bit of the ball showing, with the tree not having made the extent of growth around it that would have been proceeding for hundreds of years. Nor does it seem likely the entire tree is hundreds of years old. This, of course does vary depending on how well the tree has been doing. Some quite small trees can sometimes turn out to be old.
     
  8. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Oh, no WAY this tree was around in 1759!!! Even if it was, it would have been a tiny sapling that would have been leveled by a cannon ball of any size.
     
  9. tipularia

    tipularia Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Some say the cannonball was put there to keep wagons from running over it when it was young.
     
  10. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Perhaps an examination of the cannon ball might yield info on its age. Metallic composition and/or diameter could give clues as to its origin and what gun might have fired it: this in turn would give you a ball-park year. ANYWAY, you (I hope) get the idea. There was more than one "Battle of Quebec"...

    Historian, what is the object of your research? Somehow, we've got to get a look at the leaves & bark of the tree, otherwise we can give you only educated guesses rather than identification.
     
  11. DiscoverEcology

    DiscoverEcology Member

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    That's hilarious.
     
  12. tipularia

    tipularia Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    There are many links to the Quebec City cannonball tree, but I haven't seen one that tells what kind of tree it is. Here is a photo showing the leaves, though they don't have much detail.
     
  13. Historian

    Historian Member

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    Togata 57,
    The research I'm doing is purely for conversation and fun and not a real crucial thing.
    I am a contributor to another forum where History Geeks like myself gather. Someone from Quebec put those photos up and asked the same questions as I did here.

    As most of us in the history forum know of the various military engagements that took place in and around Quebec through it's history, we all talked round and round about the cannon balls possible caliber and origin and got nowhere.

    I think that regardless if it was shot from the British Navy in the river or from the British gun-batteries across the river at Point Levis, the tree itself simply wasn't large enough at the time to have a cannon ball stuck in it.
    I feel the ball had buried itself underground from the end of its flight and the tree grew up around it. Or, as someone here already suggested, the ball was placed deliberately inside the hollow of the tree many years back.
    I don't think a single ball would be much help in protecting the tree in it's youth.

    At any rate, thanks all you guys for your thoughts and your time. I will absolutely return here when I have another horticulture-related question.
    You guys are great.

    Best regards,
    Historian
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008

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