Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pine caldelabra

Looking out my kitchen window toward the east, I've been struck how the new growth at the tops of nearby pine trees resembles giant candelabra. The tree above was the first to catch my attention; it is a landscape tree, likely a Scotch pine. The close-up below shows the first year, female pine cones near the top of the new stalks, while the male "cones" are those brown clusters located lower down on the branch, presumably to enable cross pollination.


Once I got involved in peering more closely at the current growth patterns, I discovered that there was yet another non-native, landscape tree visible while I drank my morning coffee. This fellow's candelabra are dark green; the close-in view suggests a bigger cluster at the base of new growth that includes both male and female cones.

The native Ponderosas in my neighborhood are big specimens which did not begin sending out their new growth as early as the aliens. However, I took these pictures about a week later, when the process was underway. The picture above shows both new, green first-year cones and mature brown second-year cones, which will be dropping one of these days. Yes, it takes not one, but two years for pines to create their seeds (pine nuts), which are found in between the scales of a cone.

Apparently there's no proper common term for the pollen producing male parts; the scientific name, of course, is a thorough-going mouthful: microsporangiate strobili. Did you get that? Did you try to pronounce it? During the spring pollen season in Prescott, everything is covered in a fine yellow dust, including the lungs of folk, many of whom are quite sensitive. You'll note that our local pines feature much longer needles and don't look nearly as tidy as the trees favored by the landscapers.

While I thought that our local pines might not develop the elaborate new growth shown by the aliens, I was obviously wrong -- here's a good example of a tree taking full advantage of the comparatively wet winter we enjoyed this year. New little Ponderosas will be sprouting after the monsoon rains set in; when my dotter lived up near Flag, she spent hours pulling up the little seedlings that came up all over her lawn.

Today, I caught sight of this pine at the Willow Creek Walgreen's. I couldn't figure out if it was one or the other of the trees I see from my window, or a different, third variety. But it's pretty against the sky so I included it here.

13 comments:

meggie said...

I was intrigued to read of your dotter's uprootings. Does this mean it would all revert to pine forest if left to grow naturally?
I know a little about pines, having come from NZ where the plantations dominate certain aeas.

RV-boondocker-explorer said...

How DO you come up with themes like this? Quite amazing.

Prescottstyle said...

Hi Granny J. We found some New Fir tree plantings on Lookout Mnt. this past weekend.

White Fir Plantings

Granny J said...

meggie -- reverting to pines? You bet! FYI, Flagstaff is in the middle of a major national forest; Prescott is on the north edge of another national forest. How thick the dotter's seedlings would grow depends upon 1) rainfall, 2) fire protection. With too much fire protection, they'd grow up into what are called "dog-hair thickets."

boonie -- I really don't know why the ideas occur to me, but they do; I've got a zillion folders of pix sorted for different posts. Maybe that's why I wound up as a magazine editor all those years ago...

style -- I didn't know they were currently planting trees anywhere in the forest. They should start some aspen on those denuded hillsides along the White Spar.

Prescottstyle said...

I have a feeling one of the residents up on Lookout has made some cuttings off of the existing Firs. I saw about 10 of them in a little hollow, not far from the houses.

Granny J said...

style -- I didn't know you could grow conifers from cuttings. OTOH, they might have planted seeds, which were happy to sprout if given a regular watering...BTW, are you going to post regularly at the trail site?

Jan said...

granny j..your trees really do look like candelabra!

That's a lovely view from your kitchen window, I'll bet! :)

Granny J said...

jan -- you're right, the view is a great one, but no sunsets (my west wall is built into the hillside.)

Prescottstyle said...

Well, I'll make a run at it. My guess at the cuttings, but they all looked so similar and cropped.

Dave said...

I see what you mean about candlelabras, but - forgive me - some of those trees (photos 3, 4 and 5) look like they are making a rude gesture!

Granny J said...

havasu dave -- never had a tree give me the finger yet, tho one did pock my LH in the eye rather badly on a hike one time.

Bevson said...

Fascinating post. I am going to run out and look at pine trees. Up here on the mountain we have mostly oaks but I'm sure I can find some conifers somewhere.

Granny J said...

bevson -- hope you find some pines at just the right point in time! BTW, a mountain top in Jersey?

 
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