The range of Pinus albicaulis reaches from British Columbia in the north to Nevada in the south. It is a keystone species, meaning that it has a highly significant effect on its ecosystem in relation to its abundance. It can tolerate high winds better than other pine species, and helps to regulate meltwater runoff and soil erosion. Some trees live over 1,000 years, and most don’t begin to produce cones until at least 30 years old...
Though I have posted this before, I really love the science that these people are uncovering…
How Trees Commmunicate
Researchers at the University of British Columbia are concluding that trees are interacting with one another in a symbiotic relationship that helps the trees to survive. Connected by fungi, the underground root systems of plants and trees are transferring carbon and nitrogen back and forth between each other in a network of subtle communication. Similar to the network of neurons and axons in the human brain, the network of fungi, roots, soil and micro-organisms beneath the larger ‘mother trees’ gives the forest its own consciousness.
Money may not grow on trees, but gold does—or at least it accumulates inside of them. Scientists have found that trees growing over deeply buried deposits of gold ore sport leaves with higher-than-normal concentrations of the glittering element. The finding provides an inexpensive, excavation-free way to narrow the search for ore deposits.
Scientists have long had clues that trees and other vegetation pulled gold from the soil and transported it to their leaves, but the evidence wasn’t clear. The gold particles could have stuck to the leaves after being blown there as dust, for example. To bolster the case that the gold came from soil beneath the trees, researchers conducted a series of field studies and lab tests…
Trees that once depended on animals like the wooly mammoth for survival have managed to adapt and survive in the modern world.
by Whit Bronaugh
Warning: Reading this article may cause a whiplash-inducing paradigm shift. You will no longer view wild areas the same way. Your concepts of “pristine wilderness” and “the balance of nature” will be forever compromised. You may even start to see ghosts.
Consider the fruit of the Osage-orange, named after the Osage Indians associated with its range. In the fall, Osage-orange trees hang heavy with bright green, bumpy spheres the size of softballs, full of seeds and an unpalatable milky latex. They soon fall to the ground, where they rot, unused, unless a child decides to test their ballistic properties.
Trees that make such fleshy fruits do so to entice animals to eat them, along with the seeds they contain. The seeds pass through the animal and are deposited, with natural fertilizer, away from the shade and roots of the parent tree where they are more likely to germinate. But no native animal eats Osage-orange fruits. So, what are they for? The same question could be asked of the large seed pods of the honeylocust and the Kentucky coffeetree.
To answer these questions and solve the “riddle of the rotting fruit,” we first need to go to Costa Rica. That is where tropical ecologist Dan Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania noticed that the fruits of a mid-sized tree in the pea family called Cassia grandis were generally scorned by the native animals, but gobbled up by introduced horses and cattle. Janzen, who received the Crafoord Prize (ecology’s version of the Nobel) for his work on the co-evolution of plants and animals, had the idea that the seeds of Cassia grandis, and about 40 other large-fruited Costa Rican trees, were adapted to be dispersed by large mammals that are now extinct. He teamed up with Paul Martin, a paleoecologist at the University of Arizona, to develop the concept of ecological anachronisms…
Until 2013, the oldest individual tree in the world was Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) in the White Mountains of California.
But then researchers announced the dating of a 5,062-year-old P. longaeva, which isalso in the White Mountains, according to the Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research group. The tree has not yet been named.
The next oldest tree on the list is a national monument in Iran: The Zoroastrian Sarv (Sarv-e-Abarkooh), estimated to be about 4,000 years old, or older. This Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens), which is in Abarkuh, Yazd, Iran, may well be the oldest living thing in Asia…
Fossil trees that approached the heights of today’s tallest redwoods have been found in northern Thailand. The longest petrified log measures 72.2 m (237 ft), which suggest the original tree towered to more than 100 m (330 ft) in a wet tropical forest some 800,000 years ago.
The trees appear to have been closely related to a species alive today called Koompassia elegans, which belongs to the same family as beans, peas and black locust trees, explained lead author of the study, Marc Philippe of France’s University of Lyon. That is to say, the ancient trees are not closely related to today’s tallest trees, which are the Eucalyptus (gum trees) of Australia and Sequoia (redwoods) of California. Both of those living trees can reach about 130 m (425 ft) in height.
Interestingly, there are no trees living today in Thailand that approach the size of the ancients. “Highest trees nowadays in Thailand are almost 60 m(200 ft),” wrote Philippe in response to my email query about his new paper coming out in the April issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. ”To my knowledge the highest tree yet recorded in Thailand is a Krabak tree, belonging to the Dipterocarpaceae (‘tropical oaks’), 58 m(190 ft) tall.”…
This is a Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata ). The genus is found throughout Africa and in Madagascar, some parts of Asia and Australia. They are often called “the tree of life”. Their trunks often reach 7 - 11 m in diameter, and the Glencoe baobab (usually considered the largest in existence, in south africa) had a diameter of 15.9 m until it split into two parts a few years ago. A single tree can hold up to 4,500 L (1,189 gal) of water.
Tree I.D. is a fundamental skill for anybody who is involved in the management and protection of a site. Ultimately trees are a depended on by many other species, with some species only found on certain species of tree.
Me and a fellow colleague, Al, have gone out with the distinct purpose on brushing up on out winter tree identification skills, in the Chevin Forest Park near Otley. Primarily, this involves using only bark and twigs as a source of identification. Identification of trees in winter is relatively simple, once you understand the different patterns of budding on twigs, as well as types of bark.
We cheated a bit with Britain’s two most common oak species the sessile oak (Quercus petraea) and English oak (Quercus robur), by identifying them by leaf stem as well as other features.
Here’s a few links to the location and useful books we used on the day:
The Dragon Blood Trees (Dracaena cinnabar) are palm-like plants found in the Socotran archipelago, 150mi east of the Horn of Africa. This small island chain has more than 700 endemic species, half of which are plants!
Learn more about Socotra and it’s Galapagos-like biodiversity here.
Biorhiza pallida is a gall wasp species in the family Cynipidae. This species is a member of the tribe Cynipini, the oak gall wasp tribe, responsible for the formation of galls known as oak apples on oak trees. These are formed after the wasp lays eggs inside the leaf buds and the plant tissues swell as the larvae of the gall wasp develop inside…
(read more: Wikipedia) (T - Siga; B - Biograph Project)
If Costa Rican trees could speak, perhaps they’d ask for a cool glass of fog. A number of plant species in the country’s tropical cloud forests quench their thirst by slurping up fog droplets through their leaves, a new study shows. The forests are already in danger from the changing climate, and the finding raises concerns that they’re even more fragile than thought.
For 9 months of the year, the lush, mountainside cloud forest of Monteverde in Costa Rica gets plenty of rain to support its roughly 2000 plant species. During the other 3 months, February through April, precipitation is scarce. But even during this dry spell, some of the region’s forests average 13 hours of fog each day from moisture that drifts in from the Caribbean Sea and condenses under the forest’s canopy, forming milky-white threads that weave through the greenery.
Monteverde’s cloud forest is also home to a wealth of amphibians and migratory birds. But in 1989, conservationists were alarmed when a renowned bright-orange amphibian called the golden toad went extinct. Whether the animal died out because of climate change has been a source of debate. But its demise served as a bad omen because a cascade of other amphibians, which are especially sensitive to moisture changes and diseases spread by climate change, disappeared from Monteverde in the following years.
Researchers interested in conserving the cloud forest species have studied the region’s animals intensely, but they know much less about the ecosystem’s habitat-providing plants, says Greg Goldsmith, a plant ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Because climate change has also been projected to influence where the fog forms, Goldsmith and his colleagues hunted for clues to how the dry season fog influenced the trees by looking for a rarely studied talent among plants called foliar uptake—the ability to absorb water through leaves in addition to the roots…
(read more: Science NOW) (photos: Drew Fulton, Canopy in the Clouds)