Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A well-proportioned, rather handsome little pine: two-leaved, or tamarack pine (Pinus contorta, var. Murrayana)

John Muir (1838-1914) wrote enthusiastically about noble and giant trees—the giants of the Sierra Nevada's lower zones—such as the big tree, incense-cedar, Douglas spruce, sugar pine (and its nanómba), ponderosa pine and silver firs. But he also did justice to the smaller evergreens and dwarf trees. Pinus contorta subsp. murrayana, the tamarack or Sierra lodgepole pine, was described by him as “a well-proportioned, rather handsome little pine,” frequently occurring in the high-elevation, alpine forests [1]:
This species forms the bulk of the alpine forests, extending along the range, above the fir zone, up to a height of from 8000 to 9500 feet above the sea, growing in beatuiful order upon moraines that are scarcely changed as yet by post-glacial weathering. Compared with the giants of the the lower zones, this is a small tree, seldom attaining a height of a hundred feet. The largest specimen I ever measured was ninety feet in height, and a little over six in diameter four feet from the ground. The average height of mature trees throughout the entire belt is probably not far from fifty or sixty heet, with a diameter of two feet.
John Muir, 1894.

Keywords: conifers, Pinales, Pinaceae, tree size, natural history, Sierra Nevada.

References and more to explore
[1] John Muir: The Mountains of California. The Century Company, New York, 1894. Note: see pages 141 to 143  in the Penguin Classics Book print of 1985 with an introduction by Edward Hoagland.

No comments:

Post a Comment