A tree blown down during superstorm Sandy will become an attraction at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont.
The sycamore tree, estimated to be 150 years old, was uprooted during the storm Monday night. A root ball approximately five metres (15 feet) in height while lying on its side is now exposed.
Officials won't know how exactly old the tree is until they cut the middle out and count the rings. They estimate it was 25 metres (82 feet) tall. It's leaves are bigger than dinner plates.
Park ecologist Tammy Dobbie said the tree had stood since Point Pelee National Park was established in 1918.
"Sycamores can live up to 350 years and we think that this one was probably half that age; probably about 150 years old, based on the diameter of it," Dobbie said.
The tree stood along the Woodland Nature Trail and was one of the marked attractions along the route. While the tree fell, the sign marking the attraction survived.
"It's kind of a sad thing, especially since it was such a very cool tree people really liked to see, right next to the trail," Dobbie said.
Sycamores are rare in Canada. With the exception of a few areas, they are only found in the Carolinian Zone in southwestern Ontario.
Park officials say the tree was hollow, so its days were numbered. Now that it is on the ground, park officials are excited about the tree's potential.
"Now that it's fallen down its going to provide habitat for a whole bunch of animals," Dobbie said. "Now that the tree's fallen down, there's actually a big tube here or hollow cavern and this is going to be great for wildlife."
The tree fell across the wheelchair accessible trail so park crews will be building a temporary trail around it in the next few days.
Later this week, park officials will decide how to prepare the site so it can be appreciated to its greatest potential.
They they won't be able to do the work until spring.
"One of the ideas is to cut a section out of the middle of this tree and let people kind of walk right in between it to get a full perspective of the size and the grandness of this tree," said Dwight Bourbin, resource conservation manager. "It came down in a very significant weather event in North America so tying those things together, we're going to be able to interpret this tree in a different fashion."
The park was closed for a day after the storm. It's open again and the tree is accessible.