Friday, October 15, 2010

Abies grandis - Grand Fir

Abies grandis: Abies is the Latin name for silver fir; grandis, meaning 'grand,' referring to the tree's distinction as the world's tallest species of fir.

Also known as Lowland Fir.

Evergreen. Native to coastal mountains from British Columbia to Sonoma County, California, eastward into Montana. Prefers a moist, cool climate. Not tolerant of drier Sierra Nevada locations, where occasionally grown specimens are much smaller than in the northwest.

Grows to 300' tall in habitat and 20' wide, with a dense conical shape, broader with age as lower horizontal branches droop, usually to the ground, uppermost growth losing vigour and the top becoming rounded.

Needles are shiny dark green, 1 1/2 to 2" long, flat, with blunt or notched ends, 2 white stomatal bands below, grooved uppersides, sometime alternating shorter and longer needles side by side, distinctively flat but arched and recurving in 2 rows on lower branches, those near the crown shorter, denser and pointing forward.

Cones are cylindrical, yellowish green to greenish purple, 2-4" long, upright on upper branches with thin, rounded, flaky scales, broader than long, and hidden inserted bracts, maturing in fall of the first year.

Bark is thin, gray, with resin blisters, becoming reddish brown with age with thin, flat or platy ridges and many small cracks and fissures.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tsuga heterophylla - Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophylla: Tsuga is from a Japanese name for their native hemlocks; heterophylla, meaning 'different leaves' referring to the short and longer needles that grow together along a branchlet.

Tall, straight tree with a drooping leader and branch tips. Growth rate slow to moderate up to 150+' in its native habitat by 20-30' wide, developing a tall, pyramidal form. Often rather spindly and shapeless in its densely shaded forest habitat, becoming more shapely in sunnier locations.

Needles are glossy, yellow-green, 1/2" long, appearing to grow from opposite sides of branchlets. appearing 2-ranked, or in a flattened profile, from a short stem, with grooved uppersides, persisting 3-4 years.

Cones are light brown, elliptical, 1" long with thin papery scales, hanging along ends of branchlets, maturing in summer of the first season.

Bark is thin, brown, finely scaled, becoming thicker and harder, dark brown and red-tinged, deeply furrowed, with flat, wide ridges irregularly interconnected with narrow cross-ridges.

Evergreen. Native to the Pacific Coast from Alaska to northern California at 2,000-5,000' elevation. Western hemlock is mainly a tree of temperate rainforests, but it also occurs in the northern Rockies. On the coast it may experience 150" of rain (in Alaska), or less than 40" (Eureka, California). Inland it is confined to shady, north-facing slopes and stream bottoms. It tolerates a wide variety of soils and ranges from sea level to 2,000 feet. Grows mostly among Sequoia sempervirens, Picea sitchensis and Thuja plicata.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thuja plicata - Western Redcedar

Thuja plicata: Thuja from the Greek name 'thuia' or 'thyia,' a kind of juniper or other resinous tree; plicata, meaning 'pleated'.

Also known as Canoe Cedar, in reference to the canoes made from its rot-resistant wood by Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Pyramidal form with straight, tapered trunk with a buttressed trunk. Upper limbs are often horizontal; lower limbs droop to the ground, but most have upturned tips. Foliage is lighter green than that of associated conifers. Moderate growth rate up to 200' in its native habitat and 20-60' wide.

Flat, hanging, lacelike, green foliage sprays of small, decussate, scale-like leaves. Delightfully aromatic when crushed.

Sprays of foliage from shady (left) and sunny (right) parts of the same tree.

Cones are 1/2" round, reddish brown, with 6 fertile scales, maturing and releasing 2-3 seeds each in late summer o the first year.

Bark is thin, reddish brown, fibrous, with shallow furrows and long vertical ridges, peeling in long strips and taking on a grayish cast with age. Trunk base is often fluted.

Evergreen. Native to the northwestern U.S. from coastal California to Alaska east to Montana. Western redcedar grows under temperate rainforest conditions alongside Sequoia sempervirens, Picea sitchensis, Tsuga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii. Summers are relatively cool, winters are mild, rainfall is heavy and supplemented by ample fog-drip. It is sometimes found in boggy soil.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Abies bracteata - Santa Lucia Fir

Abies bracteata: Abies is the Latin name for silver fir; bracteata refers to the species' extraordinarily long cone scale bracts.

Also known as the Bristlecone Fir.

Narrowly conical, steeple-like crown, with short, slightly drooping branches near the top and wide-spreading branches at the base, often to the ground. Growth rate moderate, slower with age, to 70' tall (to 100' in habitat) and 15-20' wide.

Needles are stiff, flat, shiny dark green 2" long, twisted near the base, with sharply pointed tips and 2 whitish stripes on the undersides, sometimes occurring in flattened sprays on lower branches. Compare to Torreya californica. Twigs are glabrous, with long, narrow, sharply pointed, 1" long non-resinous buds.

Purplish brown cones are upright 3" long, with thin, broadly rounded, tightly clasped scales, each bract extendign into a 1/2 to 1-3/4" long yellowish brown, hairlike bristle, curving outward around the cone.

Cones are rarely seen, disintegrating when fully mature and releasing ovoid, reddish brown broad-winged seeds. Pictured above are cone scales with bracts and a spike to which cone scales were formerly attached.

Bark is smooth, thin, grayish brown, thickening and becoming scaly and slightly fissured, often with pitch oozing from cracks in the bark.

Evergreen. Native to the Santa Lucia mountains of Monterrey and San Luis Obispo counties of California. The Santa Lucia Fir occupies steep, rocky slopes above the cool, windswept, foggy coast, usually between 2,000 and 5,000 feet in mixed-evergreen forests at sites with annual rainfall in excess of 100 inches.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pseudotsuga macrocarpa - Big Cone Spruce

Pseudotsuga macrocarpa: Pseudotsuga, meaning false hemlock -- 'tsuga' is the Japanese name for hemlock; macrocarpa, meaning literally 'big cone'.

There is also an effort to popularize the more accurate common name, Big Cone Douglas Fir.

Growth rate slow to 60' tall and 30' wide, developing a broad conical shape, stout trunk, long horizontally spreading branches, irregular with age, with sparse areas between older drooping branches often sprouting juvenile growth.

Needles are stout, densely set, bluish-green to dark-green, 3/4 to 1" long, slightly curved, whorled along branchlets, appearing 2-ranked or semi-flattened, with a slightly grooved upperside, ends slightly more pointed than P. menziesii, and persisting about 6 years. Slender twigs are reddish brown, slightly hairy at first with shiny dark brown pointed buds, slightly shorter than those of P. menziesii.

Cones are reddish brown, 4-7" long by 2-3" wide, short stalked, narrowly ovate, hanging from branch ends, with shortened tri-tipped, pointed bracts extending just beyond the broad, thick, rounded scales, ripening in summer and opening in fall of the first season, but may persist into the following year.

A closer view of the conescale bracts.

Bark is dark reddish brown, thickening at an early age and becoming roughly furrowed, with wide, heavy ridges and interconnecting narrow cross-ridges.

Evergreen. Native to southern California on dry slopes and in canyons from Kern and Santa Barbara counties south to Baja California at 1,000-7,000' elevation, outside the range of Douglas-fir to the north.

Limited to southern California mountain habitats, along ridgetops and steep ravines, in loose scattered groves. Tolerates drier conditions than Douglas fir, growing in chaparral and mixed conifer regions, with canyon live oak, as well as pinyon, Jeffrey, ponderosa, sugar, and gray pines.

Picea engelmanii - Englemann's Spruce

Picea engelmanii: Picea from the Latin 'pix' for 'pitch,' referring to the spruce's resin, which was used in the manufacture of pitch before the use of petrochemicals; engelmanii for George Engelmann, a German-American botanist who described the flora of the North American west.

Evergreen. Native to southwestern Canada, Oregon, and extreme northern California east to the Rocky Mountains.

Growth rate moderate to fast to 60-130' tall and 20-25' wide, with a tall pyramidal form in youth with upward-arching horizontal branches, becoming round-topped with age, with drooping branches, from a rather large buttressed trunk.

Needles are dark-green to bluish-green, 1 to 1 1/18" long, occasionally with glaucous white bloom. Bluntly pointed ends are not sharp, and needles are somewhat flexible, with no visible resin ducts on the surfaces. Needles are also four-sided and can be rolled between the fingers.

Fallen needles leave small pegs where they were attached along the branch, as is common to the Picea genus.

Pendulous cones are oblong to cylindrical, sessile or short-stalked, with slighly wavy and elongated, flexible, papery scales, with irregular end margins, maturing in fall of the first season to a light brown and falling shortly thereafter.

Bark is fairly thin and reddish brown, becoming grayish and broken into large, thin, loosely attached scales.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pseudotsuga menziesii - Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga menziesii: Pseudotsuga, meaning false hemlock -- 'tsuga' is the Japanese name for hemlock; menziesii, named for Archibald Menzies, a Scottish surgeon and naturalist.

Native to the northwestern U.S. from northern California to Alaska east to the Rocky Mountains at 2,000-4,000' elevation.

Broadly pyramidal in youth, with lower branches horizontal or slightly drooping an dhigher branches ascending openly, older trees becoming more rounded with an irregular loose form. Growth rate fast to 80-160' tall and 20-30' wide in cultivation and up to 250' tall in habitat.

Needles are soft, dark green, new growth light green, 3/4 to 1 1/2" long, flattish, densely set, with a slightly grooved upperside, blunt to dull pointed ends and a distinctive fragrance, persisting 6-8 years. Twigs are orange to brown with shiny, brown, long-pointed buds.

Cones are thin, reddish brown, 2-4" long by 1 to 1/2" wide, narrowly ovate with tri-tipped, pointed bracts extending among and beyond the broad, thin scales, hanging from branch ends, ripening and opening in teh fall of the first season. Seeds are dull brown, 1/4" long with a 5/8" long wing.

P. menziesii cones are about half the size of P. macrocarpa (top), but the bracts are about the same length.

Bark is thin, smooth, grayish brown, becoming thicker, dark brown and roughly furrowed wtih heavy ridges interconnected by narrow cross-ridges.

Calocedrus decurrens - Incense Cedar

Calocedrus decurrens: Calocedrus from the Greek kallos, meaning 'beautiful' and kedros, meaning 'cedar'; decurrensis Latin meaning with the leaf margins running gradually into the stem, that is, having a wing-like or ridge-like extension beyond the actual or apparent point of attachment, like a leaf base that seems to continue down the stem.

Native to the mountains of southern Oregon, California, western Nevada and northern Baja California. Commonly associated with Pseudotsuga menziesii and Pinus ponderosa in the Sierra Nevada.

Growth rate slow to moderate to 75-90' tall (up to 160' in its natural habitat) and 10-15' wide or more, developing a tall, symmetrical pyramidal form, with a dense, narrow crown, a thick buttressed trunk at the base, and drooping lower horizontal branches arching upward at the ends on older trees.

Needles are rich glossy green, closely spaced, flattened, scalelike, with sharp points, occuring in flat sprays, fragrant when crushed, persisting about 2 years, as branchlets enlarge with the main deciduous period in late summer.

The sprays of foliage are made up of elongate, flattened scale-like leaves arranged in four rows surrounding the branchlet, giving it a jointed appearance. The leaves are aromatic when crushed.

Inconspicuous male and female flowers occur in midwinter on separate twigs of the same branch, as yellowish thickened scaly bodies at ends of branchlet.

Oblong-ovoid 1" yellowish to reddish brown seed cones mature in September of the first season in California, splitting open into 5 parts, with 2 recurving away from the flat, straight center and 2 smaller scales at 90ยบ and a sharply pointed hook at the ends.

Bark on young trees is thin, smooth, cinnamon-red, flaking in broad, flat plates, later thickening and becoming darker brown, appearing semi-fibrous wtih deep furrows and thick vertical ridges.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pinus muricata - Bishop Pine

Pinus muricata: Pinus is the Latin name for pine; muricata, Latin meaning like a murex, which is the genus of marine gastropods having rough spiny shells, so named for the cone's sharp, prickly scales.

Evergreen. Native to the California Coastal Ranges, Santa Cruz Island, and Baja California, usually in mild, foggy coastal areas on terrain that includes seaside bluffs and headlands, infertile granitic ridges, and old marine terraces with highly acidic soils.

The Bishop Pine can take on a dense, rounded canopy to a sparse, wind-swept look with a bowed or straight trunk. Moderate to fast growh up to 40-75' fall and 20-40' wide.

Stiff 2-fascicled needles 4-6" long are green in the south, and blue-green from Sea Ranch to Trinidad and are tightly clustered at branch ends.

Egg-shaped closed cones measure up to 4" long with strongly prickles scales. Depending on their age, they can be reddish brown to weathered gray and are usually tightly closed and held on branches in whorls.

Bark is gray-brown to almost black in mature trees. Rough, scaly ridges are separated by fissures.

Pinus strobus - Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus: Pinus is the Latin name for pine; strobus is Latin for pine cone.

Native to the north-eastern U.S. from Georgia and Iowa to Illinois and in Canada from Newfoundland to Manitoba.

Growth rate slow, becoming faster to 50-80' tall and 20-40' wide, dense, straight-branched, and conical in youth, broadening with age to a more open, picturesque form with irregularly drooping branches.

Needles are soft, bluish green, 3-5" long, 5-fascicled, twisted, with minute teeth on all sides, whorled completely around branchlets, persisting 3-4 years.

Cones are reddish brown, 3-8" long, slender, long-stalked, with light-tipped scale ends and no spines.

Bark is thin, smooth and light gray, thickening and darkening to grayish brown with rectangular scaly plates.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sequoia sempervirens - Coast Redwood

Sequoia sempervirens: Sequoia named for the Cherokee silversmith Sequoyah who developed his nation's first writing system; sempervirens is Latin meaning always green, referring to the evergreen foliage.

Native to the Pacific coast of California and Oregon.

Growth rate fast to 70-90' in cultivation and up to 150-300' in habitat. with a 15-30' spread, developing an open pyramidal form and horizontal branching from a large main trunk with a broad base. Commonly cultivated as a long-lived, fast growing evergreen lawn, shade or screen tree.

Foliage sprays of feathery, flat, glossy green, needle-like leaves, 1/2-1" long tightly spaced in an alternate, opposite flat plane along green stems. Needles have slighlty prickly ends, lighter undersides, and persist 3-4 years, clinging to branches 1-2 years after drying to dull brown.

Cones are brown, oval 3/4-1" long, with densely spaced woody scales with crape-like, peltate thickened ends, maturing and opening in fall of the first year, but may persist for several months afterward.

Bark is fibrous, dark brown to cinnamon red, becoming very thick and spongy with age, with deep wide furrows and vertical ridges.