Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pinus torreyana - Torrey Pine

Pinus torreyana: Pinus is the Latin name for P. pinea; torreyana, named for John Torrey, an American botanist, after whom the coniferous genus Torreya is also named.

Compare to P. coulteri and P. sabiniana.

Native to the San Diego coast of southern California. Rarely cultivated, but adapts well to inland or high desert conditions, tolerating heat and moderate drought.

Growth rate moderate to 40-60' tall by 30-50' wide, developing a broad conical form with stout branches, becoming somewhat irregular or prostrate in windy coastal areas.

Needles are dark bluish to gray-green, 7-11" long, 5-fascicled, clustered in large bunghes at branch tips, persisting 3-4 years.

Needles are similar in length to P. coulteri, but are in fascicles of 5 (vs. 3 for P. coulteri), and P. torreyana's cones are much smaller (see below).

Cones are dark brown 4-6" long, oval with a flat base, attached strongly to branches with a thick, short stem, ripening in summer of the third year. Scales have a thickened triangular apex with short, fat recurving spines. Dark brown seeds 1/2 - 3/4" long are released over a long period of time.

Bark is thick, dark brown, becoming broken into ridges with wide, fattened, reddish brown scales.

Pinus coulteri - Coulter Pine

Pinus coulteri: Pinus is the Latin name for P. pinea; coulteri, named after John Merle Coulter, an American botanist.

Also known as Bigcone, nut, or pitch pine.

Native to dry rocky slopes of the inland coastal ranges of southern and central California. Rather uncommon pine scattered in ares of chaparral, mixed coastal pine forest, and oak woodland.

Grows to 30-80' tall with a 20-40' spread, developing an oval form, often with distinct horizantal spreading branches with upturned ends, and a short, stout trunk. Fuller than P. sabiniana.

Needles are stiff, dark bluish green, 5-12" long, 3-fascicled.

Cones are tan 9-14" long, weighing up to 5 pounds, elliptical to oblong-ovoid, short-stalked, with thick scales terminating in recurving horns, develoing in summer, maturing in 2 years, persisting on trees 5-6 years. Compare to P. sabiniana.

Cones are often covered in resin. Notice how thick the needles are.

Bark is dark brown to black, furrowed, with broad scaly ridges. Branchlets are very stout and rough orange-brown.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pinus contorta contorta - Shore Pine

Pinus contorta contorta: Pinus is the Latin name for P. pinea; contorta or 'twisted,' referring to the species' twisted needles.

See also: Pinus contorta murrayana or Lodgepole Pine.

This subspecies is native to the Coast Ranges and coastal meadows from Mendocino County, California to Alaska.

Moderate growth rate to 35' tall and wide. Irregular, dense, often rounded or pyramidal crown with many-forked, short branches often extending to the ground. P. contorta contorta is shorter than P. contorta murrayana.

Shiny dark green needles 1.25-2" long, 2 per fascicle, often twisted.

Female cones are light tan, ovate 2" long. Cones are variably serotinous -- need fire to open.

Orange-red pollen cones 5-15mm long.

Scaly dark brown bark becomes furrorwed with age.

Sequoiadendron giganteum - Giant Sequoia

Sequoiadendron giganteum: Sequoiadendron for its similarity to the wood of the Sequoia genus, named for the Cherokee silversmith Sequoyah who developed his nation's first writing system; giganteum giant.

Also known as Sierra Redwood.
Synonyms: Sequoia giganteum, Wellingtonia gigantea

Dense, pyramidal or conical form in the landscape to narrow columnar form in dense mature groves. Symmetrical branches generally horizontal to downward-sweeping with upturned ends.

Narrow, gray-green, flat, lance-like leaves with prickly ends, forming round, rope-like foliage sprays of short, overlapping scale-like needles. Opposite or alternate arrangement.

2-3" long cones mature to dark reddish brown in the second year, but may persist on the tree. Wide, oval cone scales.

Thick, cinnamon red to dark reddish brown spongy, fibrous bark with large ridges and deep, vertical, interconnected furrows.

Large central trunk with a broad, buttressed base. Trees grow up to 300' (90m) with trunks to 35' (11m) diameter.

Per, Sequoiadendron only occurs in groves, so that every place it can be seen, it is found within the native mixed conifer forest as a unique, insular stand of gigantic trees. The stature of the trees, despite their occurrence within one of the world's most impressive mixed conifer forest, is literally awe-inspiring.

Native to the western slopes of California's Sierra Nevada from Placer to Tulare counties at 4,500 to 8,000' elevation.