NPR : News

Watch It Swallow An Entire Tree In Seconds

They are called excavator mulchers. That's polite. What they really do is swallow trees. This one, a DAH Forestry Mulcher from Quebec's manufacturer Denis Cimaf, consumes a 30-foot-tall, mature spruce (starting at the top, landing at the bottom) in 15 seconds. The tree that was, suddenly isn't.

I know, I know; these are incredible machines. They can eat from the top down or topple trees and swallow sideways. They can prune, mulch, make thickets disappear in no time. They can carve ski trails, do road repair, help landscapers, speed up construction. They are crazy fast.

That's their best feature. They are so much faster than the moss that gathers on dying trees, than the woodpeckers, owls and chickadees that sculpt homes in old tree stumps. These high-performance brush cutters are built for busy humans. Of course birds, fungi, slugs, snails, millipedes need to stay busy, too. They need trees to pull apart.

Which is why I'd like to propose a new machine: What if the engineers at Denis Cimaf created a Giant Tree Plucker, one that yanks trees whole from the ground and deposits them in a clearing, set aside for forest critters? Call it a Banquet Center For Beetles, an All-You-Can-Eat Zone that essentially says, thanks for the soil, thanks for the leaf removal, thanks for everything. Since we just built a fairway for a ninth hole, we thought we'd leave a little something for you.

Pipe dream? Maybe. But I bet there are engineers at Denis Cimaf who — every so often — like to see a woodpecker peeking out of its tree hole, or a soft pad of moss turning gold in the rain.

Thanks to Jason Kottke of for introducing me to high-performance, industrial brush cutters.

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