Abies bornmuelleriana - Bithynian Fir

Conifers Around the World - p, 10/19/2018 - 12:25

Our first encounter with this species takes us back to 1980, the time of the first exploration of Turkey's conifers. That time we went there in the autumn, and had pleasantly summer-like days.

There was no snow (yet) on Ulu Dağ (2543 m) at around 1800-1900 m, which is around timberline there. Not long ago, in the spring of 2010, Kathy Musial, our editor-in-chief, organized a trip to Turkey and we accompanied her on the tour. This time, in the spring, the upper levels of the mountain were snow-covered, sometimes a meter deep around 1800-1850 m where the photographs were taken (see below). Some trees, already around 1800 m and more a little lower, were showing the pollen cone buds.

This re-visit helped to confirm the morphological differences between this tree and Abies nordmanniana (of which it is sometimes considered a subspecies). Abies bornmuelleriana has mostly glabrous branchlets, resinous buds, longer needles with bright silvery lower surfaces. As observed back in 1980 (confirmed by herbarium samples at BP and other places), this species also has longer and wider recurved bracts.

On that first visit we found noteworthy that unlike most true firs, quite a number of small trees barely reaching 2-3 m in height, had well developed cones (we have no comparative observation on A. nordmanniana). – Needless to say, after coming down from Ulu Dağ and approaching sea level we had a real spring again, with all its colors and frangance. And had to get ready for another great mountain, Kaz Daği or Ida Mountains, and another fir species of Turkey…

Picea schrenkiana - Tien Shan Spruce

Conifers Around the World - sze, 10/17/2018 - 10:00
This spruce is distributed from Uzbekistan to Xinjiang spanning a range of about 1000 km. For our Conifers Around the World, we included a main (habit/habitat) photo that was taken in Xinjiang in 1998. The dark purple closed cones were also documented there.   Later, in 2003 we visited Kyrgyzstan to see this plant in its western range. Then, it was a surprise to find a couple of trees that had green cones (see the reproduction of CAW page 393 below).   Our recent visit to Kyrgyzstan was more focusing on the junipers, but we had a chance to take a couple "wintery" photos of its habitat in Ala-Archa National Park. In spite the late October timing, we did not really feel winter not even at 2200 m where there was snow. When the sun came out the south slopes warmed up so pleasantly that we felt like early spring. The colors were different though, really marking the upcoming cold season (temperatures here can go down to -30°C).   Trees of Picea schrenkiana are very tall (up to 60 m) trees at some places, but here in the drier stretches of the mountains were less than 25 m. At this habitat the spruce was found to be associating with four junipers (J. communis var. saxatilis, or as treated in local floras: J. sibiricaJ. pseudosabinaJ. sabinaJ. semiglobosa) and shrub species including LoniceraRosaSalix, and Spiraea.

Sequoiadendron giganteum - GIANT SEQUOIA

Conifers Around the World - k, 10/16/2018 - 12:46

Featuring "charismatic" species, like Giant Sequoia, in Conifers Around the World has been somewhat different than in most cases. The largest and smallest conifers are equally treated in the book with species descriptions about 1800 characters long.

We only made additional discussions when unique features, natural history phenomena or taxonomical issues required more details. In the case of this monotypic species, the genus description (Vol. 1, page 121) provides the basic morphological details, which allowed (as in other cases) the species description, page 647, to focus more on the natural history.

In the introductory part, page 38 briefly refers to the interesting question of "how can water reach the tops of tall trees such as a Giant Sequoia more than 80 m above the ground, …" and "how the water evaporating through the stomata is pulled upward through the xylem by cohesion between the bipolar water molecules". In the Western North America chapter, Vol. 2, we were permitted to use a photo of the General Sherman tree that appeared in National Geographic Magazine (1957; the tree has lost a major branch in 2006 so a recent photo would look somewhat different). The range of the species is given on page 566 alongside a photograph by Jeff Bisbee (Nevada) of a group of trees in Mariposa Grove. Since 1853, Giant Sequoia is widely planted as a landscape tree in the temperate zones; one example of an arboretum view is shown here from Wakehurst Place.

Photo: Zsolt Debreczy - Istvan Racz


Conifers Around the World - h, 10/15/2018 - 12:27

To document this tree in Sikkim, in late fall 2003 we started our journey together with botanist friend and tour leader dr. Mohan Siwakoti from Kathmandu. From the capital of Nepal we took a flight to Birathnagar, from there took a jeep ride to Kakarvitta (a border town between Nepal and India) and then to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim (state of India).

From that base a wonderful guide, who also became a friend, Mr. Bhaila Tashi was leading our small team (Elemér, Géza, Gergő, Anita, István) to various places in Sikkim, including the lower slopes of Khangchendzonga (with the main peak of 8586 m, the third highest mountain in the world).

From the town of Yoksum (1700-1800 m) there is a trail leading to one of the protected areas established in the surroundings of this sacred mountain. The area has huge tracts of almost undisturbed primary forests from about 2500 m up.

Starting in the dark, we had to make a long ascent to the slopes to be in the conifer belt. It took a whole day to reach a small place, Tsokha, at about 3000 m, which is in the midst of Himalayan fir-hemlock forest. Somewhat below this elevation we observed majestic trees of Tsuga dumosa and a few scattered saplings of Abies densa.

The real fir forests showed their best in the morning, with the sun hitting their upper crowns. The largest fir trees were approaching 50 m and trunk diameters exceeding 1 m. Mixed with Tsuga dumosa and several species of Rhododendron, the fir forests continued up to 3700 m, with the last (small and scattered) trees occurring up to 3800 m.

Cones? Almost no cones were produced that year, except a few ones, as we saw a few of them lying on the mossy ground, in one case a little branch having a good cone – sent down probably by squirrels. From these cones and cone fragments we could see the range of cone variation (i.e., bracts almost hidden, or somewhat protruding and either straight or recurved).

Years have passed until, observation and documentation of the cone variation was possible on a different visit in a very different place! It was in Benmore Botanic Garden, part of the world-class institute, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and its affiliated gardens. There we documented a group of Abies densa trees, growing from seeds (or as saplings) collected by botanists in the 1980's in Bhutan. This extremely well documented living collection contains hundreds of individuals or even small groves of plants from allover the world, primarily from subtropical or wet-temperate climate areas.

The relatively young but mature-enough Abies densa trees documented for our project provided a series of coning samples. From that photo documentation we include here 3 coning photos, alongside some other images that together provide a symbolic portrait of the species.

Of the two trunk/bark photos, taken in Sikkim at 3000-3100 m, one is of a younger tree of about 50 cm in diameter, the other one is an old tree with d.b.h. of ca 120 cm.

Photo: Zsolt Debreczy - Istvan Racz

Abies hickelii (Jegenyefenyő)
Abies flinckii

Pálmák 2.

Treemail Magazin - szo, 10/13/2018 - 17:39

Pinus brutia - Calabrian Pine

Conifers Around the World - p, 10/12/2018 - 12:45

The type species is a common tree in the eastern Mediterranean (its botanically named varieties are more like outlying small populations to the northeast). The common name comes after ancient Brutium (now Calabria in the southern Apennine Peninsula), where its stands are generally considered to be naturalized from ancient cultivation – these are the westernmost occurrences. When traveling in Turkey this pine is frequently found in areas roughly within a 100-km range of the western, southern and northern coasts.

The photos below are from our recent trip to Turkey, in part from the lower ranges of the Toros mountains (at around 500 m in the Akseki region) and the Spil Mt. Milli Parki (national park) near the city of Manisa. Additional pictures were taken in the Dilek Peninsula, at the western coastline of Turkey (Aydın Province).

Here, in the Dilek national park – with full name the Dilek Yarimadasi Büyük Menderes Deltasi Milli Parki (1966) – there is a beautiful canyon running southward from near the north shore of the peninsula. The canyon entrance is guarded by a few old trees of Pinus brutia, their trunks around 1 m in diameter and heights approaching 25 m.

Old pine trees are also numerous in the canyon, scattered in or near the bottom, mingled with Ceratonia siliqua and Platanus orientalis and even with Cupressus sempervirens. However, the cypress likes to hike – more commonly seen high on the steep slopes rather than near the canyon floor (see another blog later).

Our visit took place on April 30 (2010) – as we observed the ovuliferous and pollen cones of the Pinus brutia trees we concluded that pollen shedding occurred about 2 weeks before. At least 3 weeks earlier than for example in Hungary, where we have a 10-m coning tree of this species grown from seed collected during our 1980 trip to western Turkey.

Pálmák 1.

Treemail Magazin - cs, 10/11/2018 - 17:37

Torreya jackii - Weeping Torreya

Conifers Around the World - cs, 10/11/2018 - 12:47

During a visit to China many years ago we documented a cultivated plant of Torreya jackii for our Dendrological Atlas project. It was more than clear that this is a most distinctive species not only in the genus, but also in comparison with a broader circle of conifers.

It took many years until we could see it in the wild in Zhejiang Province, not far from the native habitat of the Baishanzu fir, in May 1995. This was enough for taking a good series of photos – however, no (arillate) seeds were produced in that population of Torreya jackii in that year… Again, a few years have passed until in September 2003 we could see the species at another location – the Baiyun Quan National Tourist Park near Lusi village, Tonglu County, at around 500 m elevation.

This is a rather undisturbed area with subtropical vegetation containing scattered specimens of the Torreya (in both open places and shady position as an understorey plant) and Cephalotaxus fortunei (mainly as understorey). Associating plants included Ficus sarmentosa, Ilex latifolia, Lindera glauca, Lonicera hypoglauca, Philadelphus sericanthus, Smilax davidiana, Syzygium buxifolium, and others. Searched for seeds – and there were none…!

We were unlucky again. But next year our colleague Jin Xiaofeng, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, was kind enough to email some digital photos of the arillate seeds he could fortunately photograph for us in the same area. Three of these images are marked accordingly (see below).

One of them have been included in the species plate in Conifers Around the World. Thank you again for these, Jin! – Torreya jackii, as turned out after more than 20 years of cultivation in Hungary, has been withstanding severe colds down to -18 degrees Celsius, one of many experiences here with plants of subtropical climates.

A cédrusok

Treemail Magazin - sze, 10/03/2018 - 11:20

Különös nemzetség a [[cédrus]] : hajtásrendszere akár a vörösfenyőké (Larixoké) szórt csavarvonal szerinti tűállású, hosszú hajtásokból és örvös hatású csomókban álló tűjű törpehajtásokból áll, de ellentétben a vörösfenyővel hajtásaik örökzöldek, csak a 3 éves tűk kezdenek hullani. Tobozai éretten széthullanak úgy, hogy csak a középtengely marad a fán akár a jegenyefenyőké, de ez utóbbitól eltérően nem egy, hanem 2-3 év alatt fejlődnek ki: késő őszi beporzás után az erdei fenyő és más hosszútűs, tűnyalábos fenyő (Pinus) tobozfejlődéséhez hasonlóan tobozka alakban várják meg a következő évi hajtás- és egyben tobozfejlődési időszakot, s csak egy ismételt áttelelés után érik el végleges méretüket, a magvak pedig érettségüket. A termős és porzós tobozkák egyaránt felállók, a törpehajtások csúcsán végállók, magányosak, a termősük alig észrevehetően parányiak, a porzósok viszont 4-10 cm hosszúak; az északi mérsékeltöv fenyői között semmilyen más nemzetséghez nem hasonlíthatók, legfeljebb a déli félteke araukáriaféléinek hatalmas porzós tobozaira...

Tags: ÁltalánosKertészkedés

Pinus bhutanica - Bhutan White Pine

Conifers Around the World - k, 10/02/2018 - 12:44

It took us 6 years to be able to arrange a conifer-focused botanical exploration in Tibet. With financial help from I.D.R.I. this visit was organized through cooperation with colleagues at the National Herbarium, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, from where 4 colleagues accompanied us with local guidance from the Tibetan Plateau Ecological Institute, Lhasa.

During this memorable expedition we could document a total of 20 conifers. On a mostly clear day, August 9, 2001 we were on the Linzhi-Bomi road heading east to explore the Nychen Kangri area. As we passed the famous location outside Linzhi with giant trees of Cupressus gigantea (which we planned to see on the way back) we began to climb the Zhejila Mountain Range. Stop for Larix speciosadocumentation, later for Juniperus saltuaria and Abies fargesii.

After Lulan the Niyang river valley gets narrower and the endless mountain slopes clothed with thick coniferd-dominated forests could be more closely inspected. The elevation here is around 2500 m a.s.l. Let's have look at one of the pines that occupies the area (the other pine being Pinus densata)...

A handsome specimen tree stands on a cliff above the river – though it is similar to Pinus wallichiana, this one has very fine pendent foliage and thin, pubescent, pruinose branchlets! A few minutes and we conclude – it must be Pinus bhutanica! It comes as a special gift for this trip! – Taking a series of photos, and (10 years passed) the species is now featured in Conifers Around the World, page 398. Some additional photos are included here from the Yi'ong-valley – one of the grandest conifer habitats we ever visited.

The plant marked with an inscription in two photos below, has been observed at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; interestingly, the foliage of this tree, an original introduction from Bhutan, has a somewhat silvery sheen while most specimens we have seen in Tibet were green.

Juniperus phoenicea - Phoenician Juniper

Conifers Around the World - k, 07/10/2018 - 16:20

On continental Europe, this juniper reaches the westernmost stretches of the Mediterranean coast, in Portugal growing under the mild and rather wet atlanto-mediterranean climatic conditions while in the east of its range occurring in the dry coasts of Sinai and western Arabia.

This juniper is an easily recognized and common species of the Mediterranean maquis vegetation, often stunted and procumbent or prostrate as seen in the windy coasts; elsewhere it may grow into a well formed tree reaching 8-10 m and a trunk diameter of up to 1 m under good conditions. – On a recent trip to southwestern Portugal (the region of Porto Sta Maria), we studied and documented the low-growing stands of this juniper (shown in photographs below); none were higher than 1.5 m but usually much lower and often 4-5 m wide.

Also we found that practically all specimens were monoecious (though the species may be dioecious as well). We were also searching for the prostrate form we previously (1995) documented also in southwestern Portugal, near Praja Grande, and published in 1999; those plants had creeping lateral branches with adventitious roots (refer to Conifers Around the World, page 190 top detail photo).

Here around Porto Sta Maria we did not find this form even though there were many plants resembling to it. When digging in the sand it turned out that these low forms often have lateral branches somewhat similar to those of the prostrate form but in fact they are side branches buried by sand that have not developed adventitious roots.

Podocarpus salignus - Willow-Leaf Podocarp

Conifers Around the World - k, 07/10/2018 - 13:25
Based on our field explorations in southern Chile, we found this species quite rare in natural habitats. One such location was Cerro Ñielol, a miraculously saved Valdivian type of laurel-leaved forest near the city of Temuco.   Although there was only one small tree we could find in the dense forest, it was fortunately a male specimen (see photo below) thus being a good addition to another tree (presumably a remnant of the natural vegetation) in the campus of the local university, which was a seed-bearing one (also pictured here). – We included a vegetation photo of Cerro Ñielol in Conifers Around the World (page 871). This protected area is dominated by two species of southern beech (Nothofagus alpina and N. obliqua), with associated plants including Aextoxicon punctatum, Caldcluvia paniculata, Cryptocarya alba, Eucryphia cordifolia, Laureliopsis philippiana, Lomatia dentata, Persea lingue, Peumus boldus, and Pseudopanax valdiviensis.   The only other gymnosperm we found on Cerro Ñielol was Prumnopitys andina, another subtropical podocarp – but this was a locally rather common plant elsewhere, like in the foothills of Volcán Llaima. – Podocarpus salignus is not at all a rare plant in temperate-subtropical living collections, exemplified by arboreta in the U.K., Ireland, the southern states of the U.S., or New Zealand, and many nurseries in mild-climate countries propagate it for landscaping purposes. One perfect specimen is shown here, photographed close to the famous "Sierra Redwood Avenue" in Benmore Botanic Garden, the beautiful living collection part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland.
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