|Pinus ponderosa, 100ft giants|
|Pinus ponderosa cone|
|Pinus ponderosa needles|
Palmerton Arboretum, which has one or two of the giants of similar height. It is possible that the trees were planted, maybe less so that they all (or this one) are the last remnants of the once northernmost range of this typically coastal species. I can imagine that if they did at one time grow wild here, they would have promptly been decimated by the arrival of the settlers who would have needed the best lumber for all of their needs (wood made nearly everything for those people).
Ferns and conifers in general are somewhat of a mystery to me, their taxonomy is not in my spectrum of knowledge. Autumn, as the flowers fade, is a good time for me to learn some new skills and gain intimate knowledge of more primitive plant life. Following are a series of photos I took with a special project in mind.
|Pteridium aquilinum, most turn this color in fall|
|Pteridium aquilinum, a few do this|
|Cladonia sp. (L) and Polytrichum commune (R)|
Years ago, my wife Anna asked, "Do oak trees make a fruit?" My first thought was that she was mistaken and had not seen it right, but then one day I had seen them too. They are misleadingly called oak apples, but I would not recommend a taste. They are in fact created by a type of tiny stingless wasp galled a gall wasp. They are harmless to both humans and the trees, as they do not possess stingers and they are not parasitic. The gall is formed after an egg is laid on the developing leaf buds, secretions instigating the formation of a gall which the developing larvae lives inside until it is mature and finds its way out. The adults do not live for very long, maybe a matter of weeks, so their primary task is mating and laying eggs. They do not eat, thus are not pollinators. They do, however, act as a food source in all stages of life to larger creatures including birds, so their presence is beneficial in that way. (See the rose gall, another type of gall wasp, here.)
Below is a series of photos taken from a single fallen stick of an oak tree, less than two feet long. This shows how the oaks are not only host to insect life, but a wide variety of epiphytes; a canopy ecosystem composed of countless organisms:
|Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Ponderosa pine|