Took a piece of walnut I milled and found this strange marking when I ran it through the planer.
This ran for the length of the piece that was 24" long, from end to end.
I think I know what caused it but wanted to hear what you guys think.
I have never seen anything like that before, but I'll bite. It seems to be perfectly centered around the pith and my guess is the tree grew into it. So I'm going to say some kind of ribbed tree protector (to keep deer from rubbing it, and/or rabbits chewing it). The tree grew into that shape before the protector was removed, and once removed, the tree resumed normal growth.
The only time I've seen walnut marked up with iron stains is from ants/metal, but that line looks like a 24" tree wrap (assuming it is only 24" long). Unless the ants got up into the tree wraps or it was galvanized hardware cloth. A fun wood whatsit for sure.
How about a gang nail plate...the kind used to join two pieces of wood with all the little protrusions to anchor the piece. In this case, it could have been used to help anchor a piece of lumber to the tree for a swing or hammock or even a fence gate.
Believe it or not, my guess is a woodpecker! You can see the holes on the sides -- I see it a lot in up in New York. Up here they're usually made by a yellow bellied sap sucker, Sphyrapicus varius. They peck the holes and then gobble up any insects that land in the sap with their harpoon shaped tongue.
I've studied plenty of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pecks in wood over the years, and you can usually see the dimple which matches the end of their beak.
Also, while they can peck down through thick or thin bark, they usually don't go beyond the cambium layer, since beyond there, in the sapwood, it's water going up to the leaves, while the phloem which will contain the sugars produced by photosynthesis in the leaves, is in the inner bark.
When lightning strikes a tree, to the naked eye, we may perceive it as one big flash of light as big around as a garbage can, when actually it is a bunch of rapid pulses that may not be any larger than your finger, that when surrounding a tree, may be following little streams of water flowing down from the leaves and branches above. Since the water is a better conductor than air this is a ready path.
When those little trickles of water instantly turn to steam, the explosive expansion outside the bark can deliver about the same type of injury as whacking the bark with a big hammer. It can break the cells in the cambium layer in strips up and down the length of the tree, sometimes in little lines like this, or sometimes blowing wide swaths of bark clear off, as well as blowing out big chunks of wood if it goes inside.
It is hard to tell from your pics, since your depth of field is in the wrong place.
If these are intermittent scars, I'm also thinking it might be a climbing deer stand which has little prongs that stab into the tree as the hunter ascends and descends a tree.
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