The Mulberry Tree: Natures Fire Hydrant

Recently a video has been circulating the internet of a Mulberry tree gushing out gallons of water from about halfway up the trunk. If you have not seen this video, you can find a version of it below. At first glance, it seems like someone had attached a hose from a fire hydrant, hung it in the tree and let it flow.

While this phenomena is rare, it is not an unusual or unnatural occurrence. After heavy rainfall, this Mulberry tree gushes an incredible amount of water out of a hollow on the trunk. In a nutshell, the tremendous amount of water causes underground springs to overflow, forcing water out of the ground in some areas (you can see water flowing out of the ground in the video). The same thing can be observed in some wells after heavy rains, with often spewing water upwards similar to a geyser.

What causes this individual tree to transform into my dream fountain lies beneath the surface. It is likely that water forces its way through holes or cracks within the root system. The pressure caused by the overflowing springs forces the water up a hollow within the trunk, and out a hole several feet off of the ground.

Photo Credit: Amusing Planet

It is not uncommon for the interior of a trunk to decay in a living tree. In fact, the outermost layers of a tree are the only parts that are alive. The innermost parts of the tree or composed of dead xylem, previously used to transport water to the top. The xylem in a tree only lives for roughly 3-5 years, at which point it becomes nothing more than structure. To make a long story short, the sapwood in the picture below is where the magic happens.

Photo Credit: Tiny Timbers

A casual search of this phenomena yields a number of explanations, most of which point to a similar phenomena that occurs in Estonia, where a local well shoots water up to half a meter high after heavy rainfall events, leading to a flow of more than 100 liters of water a second. Local legend states that witches gather in an underground sauna and beat each other “vigorously” with birch branches, causing water to flow the way that it does. Naturally, this well is called the witches well.

Photo Credit: visitestonia

I have not gotten into hydrology as a study, but the more I observe some of the amazing things that water can do, the more I am tempted to immerse myself (pardon the pun).

I am curious to know if the chicken or the egg came first in this Mulberry tree scenario. Was the fountains path carved out by the immense pressure, forcing water through the oldest and rotting part of the tree, or did this phenomena only start occurring when a pathway was created through natural decay? I have a feeling it is the former.