There’s nothing better then asking my dog Roz – the cute 18 year old terrier pictured here to lead the way!
With her in charge, we were able to discover some ‘new to us’ conifers on a recent trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Two that I’m going to focus on are:
~ Lodegpole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana)
~ California red fir (Abies magnifica)
Now let me back up just a little. This particular trip was a visit to the Eastern Sierras for a few days. Our base stays were in June Lake and Mammoth Lakes. In case you’re not familiar with these places, both are high elevation towns in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range, about 6 hours drive from San Francisco (appx. 280 miles). These towns are easy to get to via highway 395. The quickest route options for driving to/from SF include going through Yosemite (gorgeous) or the Stanislaus Natioinal Forest or the slightly longer route through South Lake Tahoe. All are interesting and gorgeous routes.
Ok, now to the trees…
If you are out and about in the Sierra Nevadas – skiing, hiking – there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find these two conifers. A bonus is that you might be able to ID them in winter while skiing since these needle-leaved conifers (like most conifers) are evergreen!
1. Lodgepole Pine (PINUS CONTORTA VAR. MURRAYANA)
2. California Red Fir (ABIES MAGNIFICA)
Bark Comparison: Lodgepole pine vs. California red fir
Have you had a chance to learn about new trees where you live or travel?
I highly recommend it – it’s a lot of fun! For this adventure I purchased a copy of: Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, by John Muir Laws at the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Center following our hike. While on the hike I took photos of bark, cones, foliage and used my phone to get basic info via Google. Another reference book I used post-hike and once back in San Francisco was: A Natural History of Western Trees, by Donald Culross Peattie. I read through this book repeatedly to go deeper with identification, info and history; and for me, it’s a must have on my bookshelf!
ps: If you’re interested in buying either of the books mentioned above, I’ve included my Amazon links for you. Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada is portable enough to take along with you on Sierra hikes and includes:
– More than 1,700 species
– Descriptions of behavior, adaptations, and interactions between species
– Species and topics not found in most guides, including aquatic life, spiders and webs, plankton, plant galls, bark beetle galleries, animal tracks and evidence, seasonal star charts, weather patterns, and cloud formations
For more detailed information on the trees, A Natural History of Western Trees is also a fantastic book (but not portable enough to go on your hikes).