P is for Ponderosa (and Piñon too) (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 26 Jun 2020

P is for Ponderosa (and Piñon too)

[ponderosa: only mostly dead] In dry years like this one, hiking the trails you see a lot of dead ponderosas. It's so sad, thinking of the loss of beautiful, tall trees like that.

Several years ago, someone who researches trees told us that even when ponderosas look dead, they may just be conserving resources. They might still bounce back in the next wet season. It's hard to believe, when you see a tree covered entirely with brown, dead needles. I confess, I didn't believe him.

But then we had a wet season, and I started seeing miracles.

[ponderosa: back from the dead!] Sure enough: a ponderosa which is completely brown can start growing green needles. Everywhere you look, there's new life, ponderosas coming back from the dead. It takes a long time -- I've been watching this particular tree for several years, and it still looks brown from a distance -- but the tree will come back.

It's enough to give you hope in dark times.

Piñons too

This spring, we noticed that some of the piñon trees in our yard were looking sickly.

[unhappy pinon] [unhappy pinon] [unhappy pinon]

With piñons, bark beetles are always a concern, especially in drought years. Some of our close neighbors lost all their trees in the bark beetle outbreak about a decade ago. Our house's former owners apparently did a lot of watering -- not easy on a 2-acre lot -- and saved their forest, for which I am very glad (it was one of the enticements of this particular house when we were house-hunting).

The last big bark beetle infestation was before we came, so we're not familiar with the signs, and we know it happens fast once the beetles get started. So we were alarmed to see several trees down by the roadside looking sickly.

But a month later and after a little water, I'm happy to say they're looking much better. They're okay this time. But we'll definitely be keeping an eye on them.

[Purple three-awn grass] And, having nothing to do with ponderosas or piñons, I'll close with this lovely grass that grows by the roadside just above where the sick piñons are. It's called purple three-awn and it glows in the light of the setting sun.

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[ 09:44 Jun 26, 2020    More nature | permalink to this entry | comments ]