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Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

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Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby bill4reel » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:46 pm

Looking for some input "seasoned" input here. Two things please:

1.) I'm doing a blog post to honor upcoming Arbor Day about alpine trees. Focussing on some neat factoids most folks don't know. E.g. How aspen colonies are thousands of years old and oldest trees in fact are alpine trees (coniferous), etc. What are your favorite high altitude trees and why?

2.) Speaking of favorites, are any Fourteeners that immediately come to mind when it comes to pine trees? Weird question, I know...but I'm doing a t-shirt design with a tree motif and want to choose the best Fourteener for it.

Thanks!
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Dave B » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:11 pm

The bristlecone pines on Mt Evans are pretty nifty and a bit of a rarity in CO. I'd always have to pick aspens as the archetypical 14er tree though. Either that or sub-alpine fir, but it's form varies from pyramidal to scrubby krumholtz.

I spend my days working with trees and tree people so I might have a skewed view on what I think is "interesting" but a few I like are:

Douglas-fir (Pseudostuga menziesii) isn't a fir at all, it's genus name (Pseudotsuga) means false hemlock and it is named in honor of Archibald Menzies; famed Scottish Botanist.

Ponderosa Pine is the most wide spread pine species in North America

Aspen is the most wide spread broadleaf species in North America

Lodgepole pine depend on fire for seedling germination

There is only one species of pine (Pinus merkusii) whose native distribution crosses into the southern hemisphere

1000m elevation gain is similar to 5 degrees of latitude north so species native to 10-12,000 feet in Colorado can also exist at sea level in Alaska

Finally, perhaps a bit more pertinent to the giant trees in the northwest, but tree height is ultimately constrained by the shape and size of the cells that transport water within the tree.
Last edited by Dave B on Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby FireOnTheMountain » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:24 pm

Nice Dave, way to kill it!

Dave B wrote:Aspen is the most wide spread broadleaf species in North America.


Aren't Aspens the single largest living organism on earth? They beat out the coral reef I believe.

I like the trees that smile back at you because they know you care about them...or wait, maybe thats just my insanity smiling at me.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby geojed » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:35 pm

With regards to Bristlecone Pines, the ones that live on the colder, harsher, north-facing slopes live on average 2X as long as the ones living on the sunny south facing slopes. 2000yrs vs 1000yrs.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Dave B » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:38 pm

FireOnTheMountain wrote:
Dave B wrote:Aspen is the most wide spread broadleaf species in North America.


Aren't Aspens the single largest living organism on earth? They beat out the coral reef I believe.


There is some debate as to whether Pando is the largest organism by mass versus other aspen colonies (which are estimated to be upwards of 1 million years old!). There is also a clonal colony of coastal redwood which might weigh more.

By area however, the largest organism is probably a colony of honey fungus, a species of Armillaria, in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:44 pm

Bross has a collection of bristlecones, merely one of the many fascinating features of this outstanding peak. The best bristlecone forest I've seen is in the "Devil's Armchair" cirque of Mount Ouray.

I'm also a fan of aspens, partly because the different clonal groves will change color in sync.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Scott P » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

With regards to Bristlecone Pines, the ones that live on the colder, harsher, north-facing slopes live on average 2X as long as the ones living on the sunny south facing slopes. 2000yrs vs 1000yrs.


With Bristlecones, the harsher the conditions, the older they grow.

One of the main reasosn for this is that they are sensitive to competition from other species.

The oldest Bristlecones are almost always in poor soil conditions right at timberline. In those locations, there isn't much that can wipe them out. Forest Fires usually aren't a problem at timberline. Neither is competition from other trees. Insects that kill trees are usually absent. They especially "like" limestone soils because fewer other types of trees grow there. In the harshest conditions, there isn't much that is around to kill an old Bristlecone, so they can live for thousands of years. The oldest Bristlecones are fairly short and stubby, twisted and gnarled, and quite wide when in comparison to their height. Old Bristlecones never really very tall for their age (in fact the old ones are much shorter than the ones that grown in lower elevations and look more like the standard "Christmas tree" conifer.

Bristlecones are my favorite conifer.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby MUni Rider » Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:19 pm

FireOnTheMountain wrote:Nice Dave, way to kill it!

Dave B wrote:Aspen is the most wide spread broadleaf species in North America.


Aren't Aspens the single largest living organism on earth? They beat out the coral reef I believe.

I like the trees that smile back at you because they know you care about them...or wait, maybe thats just my insanity smiling at me.


The Great barrier reef takes the prize for biggest by far. Easily visible in pictures taken from space.

True, it can be argued that technically, the corals are just countless billions and billions of individual micro coral polyps sitting on a structure. But then by that logic, the same argument can be made about the connected root systems in the forests are actually individual trees tapped into a root structure.

To address the OP, my thoughts are of Engelmann Pines. They are nearly always present as the trail is reaching tree line on pretty much every 14er. I'm sure there are a few exceptions, (Bross?)
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby TallGrass » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:17 pm

MUni Rider wrote:The Great barrier reef takes the prize for biggest by far.
Not a single organism, nor contiguous DNA, so no. "The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands... There are at least 330 species of ascidians on the reef system ... Between 300–500 species of bryozoans live on the reef. Four hundred coral species, both hard corals and soft corals inhabit the reef ..."
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Greenhouseguy » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:10 pm

Bristlecone Pines get my vote. The ones on Mt. Evans/Mt. Goliath are up to 1,650 years old. The oldest in the state (at least 2,100 years old) are probably on Black Mountain in Park County. The state champion (largest) tree is also in Park County. They also adapt reasonably well to landscapes at lower altitudes.

Aspen will grow at Denver's altitudes, but the nighttime temperatures are not low enough to give them the best fall color.

Another interesting subalpine tree is the Limber Pine, Pinus flexilis. The smaller branches are so flexible that you can tie them in a knot without breaking them.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby Rcizzle » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:57 pm

I'm going to go with beetle dead trees.....ok maybe not. Out of my favorite trees, white fir (has a pleasant to lemon smell), Ponderosa (sweet gnarly looking trees), Piñon (we have a lot of it around Grand Junction so I have to like it), and limber because they are fairly rare.
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Re: Preferences for trees (in time for Arbor Day)

Postby sunny1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:22 pm

Another vote for bristlecone pines.
They are long-lived, tough trees, growing in cold temperatures, dry soils and high winds.
I love the twisted branches and trunks that stand, even long after the tree dies.
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