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Results tagged “cupressaceae”

Sep 17, 2014: Juniperus maritima

Bent, but not broken, this seaside juniper is one of a small population of at most a couple dozen individuals growing in Washington's Deception Pass State Park. These particular plants persisting against wind and saltspray form an atypical ecotype, as no other population is known to grow in this form and in a sand dune habitat. Typically, Juniperus maritima is an upright tree of the rocky margins of water bodies. The largest two known populations of several hundred plants each are in lands bordering Washington's Puget Sound (another common name is Puget Sound juniper), but its range extends northward into lands adjacent to British Columbia's Strait of Georgia. If geography is to be incorporated into a common name, a more inclusive moniker could be argued (e.g., Salish Sea juniper).

Juniperus maritima was scientifically described and published in 2007 (with a type specimen collected from Brentwood Bay, British Columbia). It may be hard to believe that a tree species near large urban areas of North America could escape the notice of botanists until 2007, but part of the reason for this is its extremely close resemblance to the Rocky Mountain juniper, Juniperus scopulorum. To be fair, Arthur Lee Jacobson (in his excellent write-up about Juniperus maritima) points out that the eminent botanist Leo Hitchcock wrote (in 1969): "Plants from the islands of Puget Sound appear to differ somewhat from those [Juniperus scopulorum] east of the Cascades in having the juvenile foliage longer-persistent and in producing cones [berries] that are less fleshy and rather consistently 1-seeded and it is believed not improbable that they will prove to constitute a distinctive race of the species." It did take nearly 4 decades for that distinctiveness to be recognized scientifically, with convincing data coming from chemistry (terpenoid analysis) and genetics (ITS sequences).

More on the subtle physical differences between Juniperus maritima and Juniperus scopulorum can be gleaned from Botanical Electronic News #387 (January 17, 2008): Juniperus maritima, the seaside juniper, a new species from Puget Sound and Georgia Strait, North America. The original paper is available as well: Adams, R.P. 2007. Juniperus maritima, the seaside juniper, a new species from Puget Sound, North America (PDF). Phytologia 89(3):263-283). Additional photographs of this species can be seen via E-Flora BC (Juniperus maritima) or the Burke Museum Herbarium's image collection: Juniperus maritima.

Mar 12, 2014: Francis Beidler Forest

Francis Beidler Forest

It was a long day at the workshop today, and an even longer one tomorrow, so another brief entry.

One of my favourite places in my two trips to the southeastern USA, Francis Beidler Forest near Charleston, South Carolina, protects old-growth cypress-tupelo swamp. Both bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) and tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) are present in this photograph. The base of bald-cypress trees is buttressed (often with accompanying knees), while the base of the tupelo trees seem like swollen trunks (the leftmost two trees completely in the image are tupelo, while the next larger one is a bald-cypress). It is difficult to see in the photograph at this size, but the bark is also quite different: tupelo bark resembles the platiness of some reptile skins, while bald-cypress bark is stringier and forms a bit of a diamond pattern.

Aug 14, 2013: Thuja plicata

Western red-cedar has been featured previously on Botany Photo of the Day (November 20, 2006 and January 10, 2011), but the earlier entries did not touch on the ethnobotany of this important western North American tree species. One of its iconic uses was--and is--for the construction of poles by the Haida Nation.

On Thursday, August 15 (today or tomorrow, depending on where in the world you are reading this entry when published) at 1:00pm PDT, the first pole in over 130 years will be raised in the Gwaii Haanas region of Haida Gwaii--the Legacy Pole. The latter two photographs show the pole being carved in early July, with the middle photograph featuring Haida artist Jaalen Edenshaw (one of the team of carvers). The first photograph shows some of the few remaining standing poles from the village of K'uuna Llnagaay (Skedans).

The Legacy Pole is a 12.8m (42 ft.) monumental pole honouring the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement. This agreement framed the unique cooperative management relationship between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada for this special area of the world: "an agreement to disagree" on who owns the land, but a partnership on management nonetheless. The Legacy Pole contains much cultural symbolism, including a figure representing Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, the supernatural being responsible for earthquakes (a reference to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that had its epicentre in Haida Gwaii in October, 2012). You can read more about the Legacy Pole and its construction from Parks Canada: The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole: Carving Connections or browsing on the web site of the Council of the Haida Nation (many links). A number of videos (including a livestream of the pole-raising at 1:00pm PDT on August 15) are available via: Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole Raising.

Nancy Turner's Plant Technology of First Peoples of British Columbia lists the uses of this "most widely employed and most versatile" plant: "...used to the exclusion of almost all other trees to make dugout canoes, house posts and planks, totem poles and mortuary posts, and storage and cooking boxes. Coastal people also used it to make dishes, arrow shafts, harpoon shafts, spear poles, barbecuing sticks, fish spreaders and hangers, dipnet hooks, fish clubs, masks, rattles, benches, cradles, coffins, herring rakes, canoe bailers, ceremonial drums, combs, fishing floats, berry drying racks and frames, fish weirs, spirit whistles and paddles." Dr. Turner dedicates 9 pages of the book to Thuja plicata--I can find no other plant that exceeds 3 pages.

Jun 6, 2013: Cupressus bakeri

Baker cypress (or Modoc cypress or Siskiyou cypress) is one of the rarest conifer species in North America, limited to more or less nine localities in southwest Oregon and northern California. Today's photographs were taken last week at the northernmost site for the species, Oregon's Flounce Rock (actually, the northernmost site for naturally-occurring Cupressus in North America). A photographer colleague and I were accompanied to the site by local botanist and plant-hunter extraordinaire, Frank Callahan.

This "Flounce Rock Grove" has been known since at least 1926, but it took another 27 years before the trees were identified as cypresses in 1953. Originally, they were thought to be junipers. The population at this grove is ca. 1000 individuals, give or take a few hundred, in a space of 0.8ha (2 acres). Some of the largest trees were felled by high winds, likely related to an adjacent clearcut and consequent loss of buffering capacity.

I should note that I'm not entirely certain whether Cupressus bakeri is the currently-accepted name; it is by some, whereas others (like the new Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California) use Hesperocyparis bakeri. The Gymnosperm Database summarizes the 21st-century papers on the subject of whether (most) North American Cupressus species should be separated out into Hesperocyparis. I decided to use Cupressus bakeri until the dust settles on the debate.

Additional photographs of Cupressus bakeri are available via Calphotos: Cupressus bakeri, including this 2009 photograph of the same group of trees as today's first photograph.

Dec 19, 2011: Juniperus communis

I'll make a stab at doing the "Botany and Spirits" series this week, as it looks like most days this week will afford me enough time for lengthier posts.

Photographed only a few metres away from the squirrel midden featured on BPotD last month, this common juniper plant is only one individual of the most broadly-distributed conifer species in the world (according to conifers.org: Juniperus communis). Native to most of North America north of Mexico as well as much of Eurasia, it also reaches into Algeria, Morocco, Nepal and Pakistan. I would guess there are exceedingly few vascular plant species one could find both within 100km of the Arctic Ocean and on the south side of the Mediterranean Sea.

The blue fruits of juniper are in fact seed cones, so therefore developmentally similar to cones such as the ones found on Cupressus, for example. However, the scales that form the cone are merged and fleshy in juniper, producing what are called juniper berries (technically speaking, not true berries).

The name for juniper in French is genièvre and in Dutch jenever, and through a bit of abbreviation, this leads to gin--the distilled beverage for today's entry in the series. The predominant flavouring for gin is juniper, though one local distillery uses at least 13 other botanical flavourings. Several different distillation and flavouring methods are used for the production of gin, with variation occurring in number of distillations, when flavourings are added, and types of stills used.

Wikipedia explores the colourful history of gin, including the Gin Craze of the early 18th century in Great Britain. Purportedly, of the 15,000 drinking establishments in London at the time, over half were gin shops. It also makes mention of some poetry regarding the social ills of excess imbibing: "The principal sin, Of Gin, Is, among others, Ruining mothers" (one of the British names for gin is "mother's ruin").

Jan 10, 2011: Thuja plicata

Thuja plicata

Though I'm responsible for the photograph of these old-growth western red-cedars, the image wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of the many people involved in preserving this area. Large individuals of Thuja plicata are (or were) common along the coastal rainforests of western North America, but the exceptional trees in today's image occur in a special environment: the inland wet-temperate rainforest of British Columbia.

Knowing that my route to Jasper National Park from Prince George would pass this particular site, my hosts in Prince George assertively suggested I visit the Ancient Forest Trail. I was not disappointed! This area is part of the only temperate rainforest in the world found at a distance of 400-600km (250-375 miles) from the nearest ocean -- and the only rainforest in the world with a majority of its precipitation from snow (perhaps it is a snowforest?). Despite hot, dry summers and long winters, the western red-cedars of this region have been able to attain significant size due to a high subsurface water table and protection from fire. The groundwater constantly flows throughout the dry summer by the melting snow pack from nearby high mountain slopes.

High humidity from near-surface water and an enclosed canopy contribute to extensive lichen diversity. In the Incomappleux River Valley (about 400km to the southeast), another section of the inland wet-temperate rainforest yielded nine species of lichen new to science, three not previously known in North America and an additional three not previously known from British Columbia. Lichenologist Toby Spribille proclaimed: "This is by far the longest list of lichen diversity ever published in western North America for an area of comparable size...Such levels of lichen diversity and rates of discovery of new species are basically unparalleled in northern conifer forests -- even in coastal temperate rainforest" (quoted from The Incomappleux Discoveries (PDF) in Menziesia, the Native Plant Society of BC's newsletter, October 2007, Volume 12(3)).

Unfortunately, these highly biodiverse and scientifically-intriguing forests remain under threat: as an example from one region, of the 9482 ha (23 430 acres) identified very-old wet forests of the Upper Fraser River landscape (including the area featured by today's image), only 356 ha (880 acres) are protected within provincial parks.

For additional photographs from this trail, see Ancient Forest Trail Pics.

Apr 14, 2008: Callitropsis macrocarpa

Thanks to Douglas Justice for writing today's entry. The photographs are from my recent trip to California. Douglas writes:

Up until 2006 and the publication of a paper by D. P. Little, the genus Cupressus L. was thought to be a northern Hemishere genus distributed roughly evenly (in numbers of species) between the Old and New Worlds. However, the New World cypresses (including Cupressus nootkatensis and the northern Vietnamese Cupressus vietnamensis) are now believed to be more closely related to the genus Juniperus than to the Old Word cypresses. You can read more about this change and the possibility of further name changes here.

Whatever name is applied to this species, it is a beautiful and iconic tree, forming huge, densely layered crowns with often picturesque twisted stems and braided bark. In the wild, it is known only from the Monterey Penninsula on the central California coast (see Cupressus macrocarpa on Wikipedia), but it is now very widely grown in horticulture. In gardens, it is primarily valued for its dark, dense foliage and fast growth for screens and windbreaks, but there are numerous mutant forms with a variety of branching and foliage effects (weeping, fastigiate, golden, etc.) and these appear to be extremely popular as specimen and accent plants. Despite the name, the cones of Callitropsis macrocarpa are not the largest of the cypresses. They are somewhat smaller than those of Callitropsis guadelupensis, a species from the island of Guadelupe, off the coast of Baja Cailfornia (and also smaller than those of the Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens). See a cone size comparison via Michael P. Frankis's wonderful cone collection.

Callitropsis macrocarpa grows well where winters are mild and there is plenty of humidity, tolerating wind and salt well, but the species doesn't fare well at all in areas with both high summer heat and humidity. Monterey cypress is the parent of the formidable Callitropsis × leylandii (C. nootkatensis × C. macrocarpa) (syn: ×Cupressocyparis leylandii), Leyland cypress, to which it lends considerable influence (most would be hard-pressed to guess the other parent from the appearance of this hybrid). Locally, both the species and its hybrids are susceptible to cypress tip moth (Argyresthia cupressella) and to cypress canker (Seiridium cardinale), but only where summers are hot (see this Australian fact sheet on cypress canker).

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