Western Redcedars (Thuja plicata) 
… are among North America’s largest trees. They can reach diameters of 10-13 ft (3-4 m) and heights of 213-230 ft (65-70 m), though they are still typically only one-third the volume of Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum). 
Large individuals may be many centuries old. One in British Columbia was estimated at around 700 years old when it was destroyed by vandals; when it fell, it was so massive the impact effectively dug its own “grave”. Redcedars are reknowned for their timber. 
They have high-quality wood with few knots, but what makes them especially appealing is Thujaplicin, a chemical that occurs naturally in mature trees and functions as a fungicide, preventing rot. The anti-fungal chemicals remain effective for up to a century after the tree is harvested. 
Shown is the Kalaloch Redcedar of Olympic National Park in Washington, which was the third-largest known individual of the species until it was destroyed in a storm earlier this year.photo by woodleywonderworks on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Western Redcedars (Thuja plicata)

… are among North America’s largest trees. They can reach diameters of 10-13 ft (3-4 m) and heights of 213-230 ft (65-70 m), though they are still typically only one-third the volume of Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

Large individuals may be many centuries old. One in British Columbia was estimated at around 700 years old when it was destroyed by vandals; when it fell, it was so massive the impact effectively dug its own “grave”. Redcedars are reknowned for their timber.

They have high-quality wood with few knots, but what makes them especially appealing is Thujaplicin, a chemical that occurs naturally in mature trees and functions as a fungicide, preventing rot. The anti-fungal chemicals remain effective for up to a century after the tree is harvested.

Shown is the Kalaloch Redcedar of Olympic National Park in Washington, which was the third-largest known individual of the species until it was destroyed in a storm earlier this year.

photo by woodleywonderworks on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

The Bird and the Pine Tree at Crater Lake National Park

Tuesday’s Tree this week is the Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) and its relationship with the Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana.) The Whitebark Pine is known as a “stone pine”, meaning that the cone doesn’t open on its own.

The Whitebark Pine needs the Clark’s Nutcracker’s sharp beak to open the cone and distribute the seeds, stashing them around Crater Lake. The Clark’s Nutcracker gets a winter food source from the “stashed” seeds, and the next generation of Whitebark Pine trees grow from the seeds not reclaimed.

(via: Crater Lake National Park)

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

… is a pine tree native to the southeastern United States, found along the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeast Virginia, extending into northern and central Florida. It reaches a height of 30–35 m (98–115 ft) and a diameter of 0.7 m (28 in). Longleaf Pine is highly pyrophytic (resistant to wildfire). Periodic natural wildfire selects for this species by killing other trees, leading to open Longleaf Pine forests or savannas.

Before European settlement, the Longleaf Pine pine forest dominated as much as 90,000,000 acres (360,000 km2) stretching from Virginia south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. Its range was defined by the frequent widespread fires that occurred throughout the southeast. In the late 19th century, these virgin timber stands were “among the most sought after timber trees in the country.”  This rich ecosystem now has been relegated to less than 5% of its pre-settlement range due to clear cutting practices…

(read more: Wikipedia)

photos by Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia

Resurrection: The American Chestnut Is Set for a Genetically Modified Revival
by Andy Coghlan
The near-extinct American chestnut looks set to make a comeback. Genetically modified trees, which are resistant to a deadly fungus that has decimated the species, have produced the first resistant chestnuts. From these seeds, countless resistant trees could be grown in the wild.

An estimated 4 billion American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) once covered the US, accounting for a quarter of all US hardwood trees. But in around 1900, a lethal fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica was accidentally imported in chestnut trees from Asia, and by the 1950s it had almost completely wiped out the American chestnut.

Over the past 20 years, the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project has been trying to turn the situation around. Led by William Powell and Charles Maynard of the State University of New York in Syracuse, the team has used genetic engineering to create a strain of fungus-resistant chestnuts called Darling4.
The modified trees contain a gene from wheat called OxO, which makes an enzyme called oxalate oxidase that destroys the toxic oxalic acid made by the fungus, preventing cankers from forming on the tree. By-products from the enzyme’s action help the tree’s own natural defences to fight off the fungus…
(read more: New Scientist)
photograph by Klaus Lang/Corbis

Resurrection: The American Chestnut Is Set for a Genetically Modified Revival

by Andy Coghlan

The near-extinct American chestnut looks set to make a comeback. Genetically modified trees, which are resistant to a deadly fungus that has decimated the species, have produced the first resistant chestnuts. From these seeds, countless resistant trees could be grown in the wild.

An estimated 4 billion American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) once covered the US, accounting for a quarter of all US hardwood trees. But in around 1900, a lethal fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica was accidentally imported in chestnut trees from Asia, and by the 1950s it had almost completely wiped out the American chestnut.

Over the past 20 years, the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project has been trying to turn the situation around. Led by William Powell and Charles Maynard of the State University of New York in Syracuse, the team has used genetic engineering to create a strain of fungus-resistant chestnuts called Darling4.

The modified trees contain a gene from wheat called OxO, which makes an enzyme called oxalate oxidase that destroys the toxic oxalic acid made by the fungus, preventing cankers from forming on the tree. By-products from the enzyme’s action help the tree’s own natural defences to fight off the fungus…

(read more: New Scientist)

photograph by Klaus Lang/Corbis

North American Hawthorns
Known for their long, woody thorns, hawthorns occur across most of North America south of the arctic. There is a huge diversity of native species - nearly 200, many of which are extremely regional. In the spring, the small trees put out profuse displays of white or pink blossoms that are frequently visited by bees and other pollinators. 
The “haw” part of the name refers to the fruit, which resemble small crabapples or cherries and are edible, if tart. The thorns are stiff and can be used as sewing needles strong enough to pierce tough fabric. (They can also be dangerous - if smacked by a branch with enough force, the thorns can easily penetrate to bone.) Shrikes will often use hawthorns to impale their prey for feeding as their weak songbird feet are unable to grasp food tightly enough.photo by Dan Mullen (milesizz) on Flickr
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

North American Hawthorns

Known for their long, woody thorns, hawthorns occur across most of North America south of the arctic. There is a huge diversity of native species - nearly 200, many of which are extremely regional. In the spring, the small trees put out profuse displays of white or pink blossoms that are frequently visited by bees and other pollinators.

The “haw” part of the name refers to the fruit, which resemble small crabapples or cherries and are edible, if tart. The thorns are stiff and can be used as sewing needles strong enough to pierce tough fabric. (They can also be dangerous - if smacked by a branch with enough force, the thorns can easily penetrate to bone.) Shrikes will often use hawthorns to impale their prey for feeding as their weak songbird feet are unable to grasp food tightly enough.

photo by Dan Mullen (milesizz) on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Yosemite National Park - CA, USA
Yosemite is special for many reasons, including its scenic grandeur and ancient giant sequoias. But there’s one reason Yosemite is special that you might not have thought about. 
Signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, the Yosemite Grant set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for protection, establishing the very idea of today’s National Parks.
Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns explain in this short Yosemite Nature Notes video: 
YouTube - Yosemite NP

Yosemite is special for many reasons, including its scenic grandeur and ancient giant sequoias. But there’s one reason Yosemite is special that you might not have thought about.

Signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, the Yosemite Grant set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for protection, establishing the very idea of today’s National Parks.

Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns explain in this short Yosemite Nature Notes video:

YouTube - Yosemite NP

darksilenceinsuburbia

odditiesoflife:

This 3200 Year Old Tree is So Massive, It’s Never Been Captured in a Single Image…Until Now

It takes a special kind of tree to have a nickname like “The President”. The giant sequoia stands 247 feet tall and is an estimated 3,200 years old. The trunk measures 27 feet across and, between the base and the highest peak, there are an estimated two billion needles.

Until now, the tree had never been photographed in its entirety. A team of photographers from National Geographic worked with scientists from California’s Sequoia National Park to try to be the first.

It took an intricate set of pulleys and levers to scale the tree, which one scientist argues is the largest in the world (if you take into account width). After stitching together 126 separate photos, we are left with this mind-blowing portrait of “The President” captured in a single photo for the first time.

Bristlecone pine   Some of the bristlecone pines found in the White mountains of California are over 4500 years old. A specimen known as The Old Man, is 4676 years.  Bristlecone pines receive very little water and food throughout the year: average annual rainfall in the White mountains is less than 30 centimetres, and the trees stand on dolomite, a form of limestone that contains few nutrients.  To survive on this ascetic diet, Pinus longaeva invests very little energy in growth. As a result, they’re quite small despite their immense age – the tallest bristlecone is just 18 metres in height – and the trees’ girth increases by just 0.25 millimetres a year.  “It shuts down all its non-essential processes,” says Sussman. “This looks half dead most of the time, perhaps with just one branch that appears to be alive.”
(via: New Scientist)image: Bristlecone pine #0906-3033, Rachel Sussman

Bristlecone pine

Some of the bristlecone pines found in the White mountains of California are over 4500 years old. A specimen known as The Old Man, is 4676 years.

Bristlecone pines receive very little water and food throughout the year: average annual rainfall in the White mountains is less than 30 centimetres, and the trees stand on dolomite, a form of limestone that contains few nutrients.

To survive on this ascetic diet, Pinus longaeva invests very little energy in growth. As a result, they’re quite small despite their immense age – the tallest bristlecone is just 18 metres in height – and the trees’ girth increases by just 0.25 millimetres a year.

“It shuts down all its non-essential processes,” says Sussman. “This looks half dead most of the time, perhaps with just one branch that appears to be alive.”

(via: New Scientist)

image: Bristlecone pine #0906-3033, Rachel Sussman

soliscence

soliscence:

Milford, MA // Cedar-Apple Rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae) is a fungus that infects the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana, not actually a cedar) wherever there are apples or crabapples in the same range. The fungus cycles between Juniperus and apple trees from season to season, and the galls on Juniperus are very distinctive in my neighborhood once they mature. The orange spore horns become bigger in the rain and will shrivel and swell with the weather, and some of them get so big they would fill the palm of my hand. If you were wondering, the galls are squishy and slimy when hydrated, and they look a lot less cool once they release their spores and start to decompose. // May 2013

Texas Native Plants: Mountain Cedar
So, should we get rid of all mountain cedar?!? So many people who are suffering from allergies would probably say an emphatic “YES!” However, this Texas native plant is crucial for many other organisms.Mountain cedar, also called Ashe Juniper or Blueberry Juniper (Juniperus ashei), is found throughout Texas in many different soil types. Several native plants are found exclusively in mountain cedar habitats such as Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) and Cedar Rosette Grass (Dichanthelium pedicillatum). Butterflies like Juniper hairstreak and Olive butterfly use this plant as a larval food source. Perhaps most important of all, the rare golden-cheeked warbler uses Ashe juniper bark exclusively for its nest. As you sneeze away, know that a golden-cheeked warbler is using the bark of that responsible, allergy-causing plant for a nest!  Find out more:Wildflower CenterTexas Parks and Wildlife Dept.FW Star TelegramPhoto: USFWS
(via: Native Plant Society of Texas)

Texas Native Plants: Mountain Cedar

So, should we get rid of all mountain cedar?!? So many people who are suffering from allergies would probably say an emphatic “YES!” However, this Texas native plant is crucial for many other organisms.

Mountain cedar, also called Ashe Juniper or Blueberry Juniper (Juniperus ashei), is found throughout Texas in many different soil types. Several native plants are found exclusively in mountain cedar habitats such as Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) and Cedar Rosette Grass (Dichanthelium pedicillatum). Butterflies like Juniper hairstreak and Olive butterfly use this plant as a larval food source.

Perhaps most important of all, the rare golden-cheeked warbler uses Ashe juniper bark exclusively for its nest.

As you sneeze away, know that a golden-cheeked warbler is using the bark of that responsible, allergy-causing plant for a nest!

Find out more:

Wildflower Center

Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.

FW Star Telegram

Photo: USFWS

(via: Native Plant Society of Texas)

Bromeliads may actually protect fruit trees from pest damage

by Yao-Hua Law

Epiphytes widely misperceived as parasites may actually protect host trees.


Imagine a plant. Now remove the soil, for it’s not essential. In fact, an estimated one-tenth of all plant species have liberated themselves from soil and evolved into epiphytes—plants that grow on other plants.

Although growing on others can seem parasitic, botanists have traditionally acquitted epiphytes of stealing from their hosts—except for the parasitic mistletoe—regarding them more as hitchhikers riding their host plants into the canopy for more sunlight. In short, epiphytes usually gain without costing their hosts. A recent study further suggests that epiphytes may even protect host trees from pest damage…

(read more: MongaBay)

photographss by Edd Hammill

A Precarious Partnership of Pine and Bird

High in the Rocky Mountain forests, a bird and a tree have relied on each other to thrive in harsh conditions. As one of them faces catastrophe, both may need new strategies for survival.

by Jared Bernard

On the slopes of the subalpine zone of the Rocky Mountains, where the forested mountainsides give way to the treeless alpine mountaintops, a tree and a bird — whitebark pine and Clark’s nutcracker — repeat the steps of a dance they have danced for centuries, each helping the other species survive. But, the steps of the dance are becoming more difficult.

A catastrophe is silently unfurling there — one that has the potential to unhinge the subalpine zone’s fragile community of organisms. The hardy, sprawling whitebark pine is now under siege from two battlefronts: a fungus and a beetle. If the whitebark pine loses the battle, it will have cascading effects for the entire ecosystem…

(read more: American Forests)

photos by Jared Bernard and Craters of the Moon NP/NPS

Ants and Trees: A Lifelong Relationship 
From the first growth spurts of the tiniest seedling to the final days of the mightiest giant, ants are there, shaping the lives of trees.
By Aaron M. Ellison
When thinking of how ants interact with trees, a lot of people may think of carpenter ants eating trees — and the wood in their home. In fact, in both our forests and houses, these denizens of hollow trees and rotting rafters are merely the final stage of a lifelong relationship between trees and many kinds of ants. Take a closer look at the many healthy seedlings, saplings and trees near your home. Anywhere you look, you will probably find a worker of one of the many ant species associated with the trees in our forests. Follow her back to her nest, and you’ll start to learn about the intertwined lives of ants and trees.
The trail of workers often will lead back to a volcano-like heap of soil. Depending on the species, such anthills can range in size from a tiny pile of sand grains that is less than an inch across to a huge mound several feet high and many cubic yards in volume. This is where the lifelong connection between ants and trees begins. Anthills are the product of tens to tens of thousands of burrowing, tunneling worker ants that have excavated mineral soil while building temperature-controlled earthen chambers in which to live, store food, protect the queen and rear her brood…
(read more: American Forests)
photo: M. Ellison

Ants and Trees: A Lifelong Relationship

From the first growth spurts of the tiniest seedling to the final days of the mightiest giant, ants are there, shaping the lives of trees.

By Aaron M. Ellison

When thinking of how ants interact with trees, a lot of people may think of carpenter ants eating trees — and the wood in their home. In fact, in both our forests and houses, these denizens of hollow trees and rotting rafters are merely the final stage of a lifelong relationship between trees and many kinds of ants. Take a closer look at the many healthy seedlings, saplings and trees near your home. Anywhere you look, you will probably find a worker of one of the many ant species associated with the trees in our forests. Follow her back to her nest, and you’ll start to learn about the intertwined lives of ants and trees.

The trail of workers often will lead back to a volcano-like heap of soil. Depending on the species, such anthills can range in size from a tiny pile of sand grains that is less than an inch across to a huge mound several feet high and many cubic yards in volume. This is where the lifelong connection between ants and trees begins. Anthills are the product of tens to tens of thousands of burrowing, tunneling worker ants that have excavated mineral soil while building temperature-controlled earthen chambers in which to live, store food, protect the queen and rear her brood…

(read more: American Forests)

photo: M. Ellison

libutron

omnue:birchandflannel:endlessme:

One Photo, 126 Frames, 2 Billion Leaves, 247 Feet

Cloaked in the snows of California’s Sierra Nevada, the 3,200-year-old giant sequoia called the President rises 247 feet. Two other sequoias have wider trunks, but none has a larger crown, say the scientists who climbed it. The figure at top seems taller than the other climbers because he’s standing forward on one of the great limbs.