This is a Green Ash tree. This species is found all over North America from Canada to southeastern Texas, especially the swampy bayou region around Houston. Here in Texas, this fast-growing tree can grow up to 120 feet tall with bright green leaves that turn purple or yellow in the fall. Because of its strength, hardness, and high shock resistance qualities, ash is used to make flooring, boxes, crates, and turned objects such as tool handles. It is also sometimes used to make baseball bats, although they are more typically made out of the closely related White Ash.
When Hurricane Ike passed through Houston in 2008, the park lost a lot of trees like this one. These trees were not removed but were left to provide habitat for insects, amphibians and other creatures and to decompose, returning nutrients back to the soil. But the cross-sawn trunk of the pine tree in front of you also provides a window into the past.
As you walk through the forest you will see a lot of dead trees. Some, like the snags that you see here, are still standing; many are lying on the forest floor. These dead trees have an exciting role to play in the ecology of the forest. The standing dead trees or snags provide very important habitat for a number of species.