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Olympic Peninsula Forest

Olympic Peninsula Forest

Today's entry was written by Claire:

This serene photograph of an enchanted forest on the Olympic Peninsula was submitted via the BPotD Submissions Forum by ferngirl42 of Seattle, WA.

If you are familiar with Pacific coastal forests in the continental northwest US, you'll know rainfall is one of the major factors in forest density and composition. The annual rainfall in some areas exceeds 350cm (~ 12ft.), permitting blanketing forests consisting mainly of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). The vegetation cover is so dense, hardly any sunlight pierces through the canopy. Close to the shoreline, though, the forest stalls, and light penetrates to the forest floor.

Near the shoreline, the Sitka spruce are not only exposed to the light, but also to the constant salt-laced maritime breeze (and sometimes ravaging winds). The burls (or burrs) are wood deformations caused by a stress to the growing tips of the plant. Some hypothesize that the salt-laced wind is responsible for burl formation in these Sitka spruces, others suggest viral or fungal damage. In general, the largest burls are found further south on coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), but the first and second largest burls known are on display in British Columbia, at Port McNeill, with the largest weighing in at 30,481kg (69,200lb).

In the thread posting, ferngirl42 also makes mention of searching in this area for Polypodium scouleri, a fern commonly known as leathery polypody. Scouler's polypody (named for John Scouler), or leather-leaf fern, can be found across the western coast of North America. It is sometimes epiphytic, and ferngirl42 notes that she has found it growing on the burls of these huge conifers.

18 Comments


..stunning 3D effect, could be used in any futuristic or science fiction as a live set..
and thank you for including the copyright information at the top of the page..

"Some hypothesize that the salt-laced wind is responsible", an educated guess.

Great photo... very mystical. I'd love to see that 35 ton burl!
I've often seen ferns growing epiphyticly on coast redwood burls. There's a magnificent example at the west end of the Miner's Ridge Trail in Paririe Creek Redwoods State Park.
For many years, our front yard sported a Eucalyptus globulus var compacta with numerous softball-sized burls. They were so thick at the base of the tree that they merged together and made the trunk 3-4 times as thick as those on the four other trees of the same species in the yard. Best climbing-tree I've ever known. I loved to hang out about 40 feet up during storms... a real E-ticket ride! (brownie points to anyone who gets that reference;-)

perhaps the rabbits are underground trying to save the forest
water ship down was a book i read long ago the photo brought it to mind

e- coupon books were used at disney land magic kingdom for newest rides?


beautiful haunting picture full of memories of the past-thank you


Thank you for the wonderful photo. I wonder what is it about forests that allows them to be "enchanting"? We have an Enchanted Forest in the mountains east of town - a beautiful stand of large aspen. Whatever it is, I'm thankful for it, as I need enchantment!

Beautiful, deep photo.
The light penetrating from the right is fantastic.
Where have all the hobbits gone to?

I have never heard the theory that burrs are caused by "stress to the growing tips." This is really interesting - Claire or Daniel, do you have a good article to recommend?

This picture is amazing. It looks like a hobbit forest or something, very magical.

And Eric, my Disney Parks-loving boyfriend tells me that between 1955 and 1982 visitors to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom at Disney World needed tickets to ride the rides. Each ticket book had tickets labeled A-E with E-Tickets being the highest quality ride. Points?


Daniel, the new site is stunning to say the least..! I really like when you click the image, it opens in a private window with a dark background, it brings out the contrast very well.

"seamless my dear Watson, wonderfully seamless"


I promise not to post another comment, for a month, unless I have to.
Going back to the picture, I blew it up to 200% and see on the tree to left "I (heart) Al T" initialed.

The awe these forests inspire is so awesome I find it hard to photograph, but this foto definitely captures the essence of nature's secretness. Almost feels as though we are spying on some private place. Good luck with the fern hunting!

Congrats on the new site. I like it. The burl growths are amazing. Are there any cross sections of them? Wonder if you can do an MRI on a live tree?!

Enlarging the image shows the sunlight streams even more. My monitor is 800x600 resolution so I imagine my view of the new layout is entirely different than others.

Daniel, help! Since early this morning (EDT) I have received at least 6 emails from this site with old (back to 2006) entries. What is happening?

The email notifier is not behaving like it used to, and it is sending notifications whenever someone comments on an old entry....and more spam is getting through, so there are more comments on old entries.

I'm working on it, 15 hr day yesterday, less than 6 hrs sleep now.

I am trying real hard to get used to the new format, because i know change is not always easy to get used to.
but there are couple of things:
when the page opens, there is nothing but logos and advertising, the first thing one has to do is scroll down. (Of course this is a general trend and everything has to be paid for, I understand but I don't like :))
the other thing is that some things have migrated from the right side to the left nav bar, and somehow having other images (here : the amazing species and the cluster map) next to the image i actually want to see is incredible distracting, as is all the white space to the left and the right.
on the plus side: i like the previous and next entry buttons on the bottom of the page as well as the top.

I love your new Site. Congratulations!! ^-^

Congratulations on the new site, thank you for this strange and dreamy image, and... Daniel, try to get some sleep!

we all need to get used to the new page
just takes time for everyone and daniel-thank you

Hi Carrie,

For the most part, how burls form is highly hypothesized and Im sure there are a multitude if reasons why they form. Stress to young buds, xylem and the roots are all potential reasons for burl formation. From what I've tried to research, there are not many studies done on this subject (maybe something for my graduate degree :)?)
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1767/

Here is a paper about research done in Chile about fire stress: http://rchn.biologiachile.cl/pdfs/1994/2/Ginocchio_et_al_1994.pdf

Hope this helps!

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