Cone Bearing Evergreens - Pines
( Originally Published 1927 )
In a forest of needle-leaved evergreens it is perfectly easy to distinguish the pines by their leaves. Look along the twigs and you will find the needles arranged in bundles, with a papery, enclosing sheath at the base. Follow farther back and these sheaths are missing, but on long stretches between the growing tip and the leafless part of the branch the characteristic sheathed needle-bundles declare this evergreen to be a pine. No other conifer has this trait, no pine grows but shows it every day in the year.
One half of the eighty known species of pines grow in North America. Pure forests of great extent are found in the Southern states, in the Great Lakes region, and on the mountain slopes in the western and northern parts of the continent. Smaller areas occur in the Eastern states. Very soon these forests must be spoken of in the past tense, for a century of destructive lumbering has almost cleared the Northeast of pine timber, and though the exploitation of the pine forests of the South and about the Great Lakes came later, as population increased in the Middle West, the work has progressed much more rapidly. The idea of forest conservation, crystallized into federal law by popular demand, has come too late to save from wasteful exploitation the superb pine forests west of the Rockies. Yet thousands of acres of forests are now under government control and here a great object lesson in rational methods of forest maintenance is being given. The pineries of the future depend upon the success of methods there employed.
The uses of pines are not all counted in terms of the lumberman. There are pines for every situation, soil, and climate. On low seaboard plains they come down to the highwater mark. They wade into inundated swamps and climb to the timber line on arid, rocky mountainsides. The bravest species go out into the desert. Almost as brave are those which survive the smoke and dust of cities like Pittsburg and St. Louis, though theirs is a losing fight with sulphurous fumes and cramped root space in the smoky town. As shelter belts, as windbreaks, as shade and ornamental trees, there are pines in cultivation in all parts of the country, their winter usefulness and beauty making them universally the choice of home-makers, rich and poor.
By-products of pine wood are chiefly turpentine, pitch, resin, and oil, derived from the resinous sap. "Naval stores these products are called, for their consumption is greatest in shipyards. Turpentine is extensively used in the arts and industries. If the Southern pine forests are allowed to dwindle, the deficit in lumber will not affect world commerce as disastrously as the cutting off of the naval stores production.
The lumberman's division of the pines is a convenient one. "Soft pines" have soft, light wood, not heavily impregnated with resin. It is the delight of wood-workers. "Hard pines" have heavy, dark-colored wood, full of resin, which is a nuisance to the carpenter, because it "gums up" lais tools. The one little sign enables us to distinguish hard and soft pines without examination of the wood. Soft pines shed the papery sheath of their leaf bundles before the leaves themselves begin to fall. Hard pines retain the leaf sheath until the leaves are shed. A glance at any leafy pine branch will enable us to determine to which of the two classes a given tree belongs.
THE SOFT PINES
The outward and visible sign of a soft pine is the loose, deciduous sheath of its leaf bundles. The scales of its cones are usually unarmed with horns or prickles. The wood is soft, light colored, close-grained. The number of leaves in a bundle is the principal key to the species.
The White Pine
Pinus Strobus, Linn.
The white pine is the only pine east of the Rocky Mountains that bears its leaves in bundles of five. This semi-decimal plan is found in three western soft pines and two western hard pines; but in the East, a native tree with needles in fives, leaves no doubt as to its name. From a distance this plan of five can be seen in the five branches that form a platform each year around the central shaft.
Study a sapling pine and you see in its vigorous young growth the fulfillment of nature's plan, before storms have broken any of the branches and changed the mathematics of the pattern. Stroke the flexible, soft leaves that sway graceful and lithe in the wind. If it is spring, note that the terminal bud has pushed out, and around it five-clustered buds are forming a circle of shoots. In autumn, after the season's growth is finished, each twig ends in a single bud, with a whorl of five buds around it. From the ground upward, count the platforms of branches. Each whorl of five marks a year in the tree's growth. The terminal bud carries the height a foot or two upward, and its surrounding five buds grow in the horizontal plane, forming the last and smallest platform of leafy shoots. Each branch is a year younger than the shoot that bears it. Note throughout this little tree the plan of five, from leaf cluster to largest branch.
Now go to the largest white pine in your neighborhood, study the plan of five in this tree, and find out the reason for any failures. Notice the conflict between the branches in the close platforms. Find branches where this conflict is in progress. Pick out the winner. Read the age of the tree by the platforms of branches on the trunk.
No evergreen is more beautiful than a white pine grown in rich soil in a situation sufficiently sheltered to defend its supple branches from breakage by severe winds. Its soft, plume-like twigs are dark blue-green, with pale lines lining each individual leaf. The young shoots are yellowish green, and they lighten in a wonderful manner the sombre coloring of the older foliage. At the bases of the new shoots cluster the staminate catkins, in early June. Yellow and becoming loose and pendulous as the wind shakes them, they are soon empty of their abundant pollen, which drifts like gold dust and fills the air. Among the youngest leaves, toward the end of the shoot, the purplish rosy lips of the erect pistillate cone-flowers catch the dust from neighbor trees, and their naked ovules absorb it and set seed. Close shut are the lips again, against any other invasion, while these ovules mature. We shall find them standing erect until autumn, but next season they hang down with their added weight, and at the end of the second summer the scales change from green to brown, open and give their ripe winged seeds to the wind for distribution. Because the tree is biennial-fruited, it always carries two sizes of cones. The large ones are one year older than the small ones. Ripe cones are five to ten inches long, with thin, broad, unarmed scales, squarish at the tips.
The most hopeful phase of the white pine problem to-day is the fact that new forests are coming up naturally where the early lumbering deforested great tracts in the Eastern states. Careful forestry improves upon nature's method, and so the pines are being restored on land unfit for agricultural crops. White pine is one of the most profitable timber crops to plant at the present time.
The Mountain Pine
P. monticola, D. Don.
The mountain pine is scattered through mountain forests from the Columbia River Basin in British Columbia to Vancouver Island, along the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains to northern Montana and Idaho, and south along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges in Washing-ton and Oregon, well into California. From the bottom lands of streams, where it is most abundant and reaches a height of one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet, and a trunk diameter of five to eight feet, it climbs to elevations of eight to ten thousand feet on the California Sierras.
The bark of young trees and on the branches of old ones is smooth and pale-gray. The leaves, five in the bundles, range from one to four inches in length, stiff, blue-green, whitened by two to six stripes on the inner side. The cones are twelve to eighteen inches long, with thickened, pointed scales ending in an abrupt beak. The larger cone, denser, stiffer foliage, and the white bark make this white pine of the western mountains a great contrast to the Eastern white pine.
Unlike many trees whose size diminishes with increase in altitude, this white pine grows to majestic size at altitudes of nearly two miles, its noble figure more striking and impressive because of the dwindling size of its companions on the mountain-sides. The lumberman looks with despair upon these giant white pines, quite out of his reach.
In the Arnold Arboretum in Boston a fine seedling specimen of this western silver pine fruited when but twelve feet high, and proves vigorous and altogether happy in this absolutely changed climatic environment. In Europe the same success attends the cultivation of these trees, which have become very popular in parks and private grounds. Their introduction into our Eastern states can now be assured of success.
The Sugar Pine
P. Lambertiana, Dougl.
The sugar pine belongs in the class with those tree giants, the sequoias, with which it grows in the mountain forests of Oregon and California, John Muir calls it "the largest, noblest, and most beautiful of all the pine trees in the world." Trees two hundred feet high, with trunk diameter of six to eight feet, are not uncommon. The maximum given by Sargent is twelve feet across the stump. The head of a sugar pine is rounded and broad, with pendulous branches, tufted with stout, dark green leaves, three to four inches long. The cones are the largest known, reaching eighteen inches in length, rarely longer. The black or dark brown seeds are one to five inches long, including the flat, blunt wings. Indians, bears, and squirrels gather the abundant harvest of these cones, which are rich in nutriment and pleasant to the taste. Crystals of sugar form white masses like rock candy, but with a taste of maple sugar, wherever a break in the bark of a sugar pine permits the escape of the sweet sap. This gives the tree its name. No other pine has sap with such a noticeable sugar content.
Fortunately, these gigantic soft pines belong to the high Sierras and do not go down to the sea, where lumbermen could sacrifice them without effort. Nature has fenced them in by many barriers, and the government, by reservation in national parks, insures the preservation of some of the finest sugar pine groves, for the use and inspiration of all the people.
A visit to Yosemite is the experience of a lifetime to any American. Here grow the most gigantic trees in the world, and the sugar pines are nobler even than the giant "big trees," for the latter are often decrepit, while the sugar pines are hale and youthful by comparison. Leaving behind the scrawny gray digger pines on the foothills, the traveler enters the belt of the yellow pines, on the higher elevations, and passing these he comes to the grand sugar pines along the highest level of the stage road that leads into the National Park. The road is no wider than the broad stumps of sugar pines, scattered here and there. The standing trees amaze one with their height and girth.
It is impossible to shake off the impression that some magic has put magnifiers in our eyes; for trees, beetling cliffs, and rushing cataracts are bigger than their counter-parts in other regions of the world far-famed for their scenery. The sugar pine trunks seem like great builded columns, too large for any real tree to grow, and the "big trees" in the Mariposa Grove intensify this impression of unreality. In a day or two the traveler be-comes accustomed to his surroundings. He goes out of the Park and down into the world of men and affairs, his soul enlarged, his life enriched by an experience he can never quite forget. He is a bigger, better man for his brief association with Nature in her noblest manifestations.
The wood of the sugar pine is soft, golden, satiny, fragrant, inviting the woodworker through every one of his senses. A single tree often yields five thousand dollars' worth of marketable lumber, the finest, straight-grained soft pine in the world.
The shame of the century is the wanton destruction of sugar pine trees by vagrant shingle-makers and thieving mill-owners, who despoiled the grandest trunks of their choicest wood, wastefully leaving the bulk to cumber the ground and invite forest fires. Late and slowly, but surely also is the popular mind awakening to the fact that forests belong to the nation and should be conserved and maintained for the whole people-not wasted for the temporary enrichment of private owners, as forest wealth has been squandered in past years.
Rocky Mountain White Pine
P. flexilis, James
The Rocky Mountain white pine inhabits mountain slopes from Alberta to Mexico, including the Sierra Nevada range. In northern New Mexico and Arizona it occasionally reaches eighty feet in height, but ordinarily does not exceed fifty. Its rounded dome, as broad as an oak, bravely dares the wind on exposed cliffs, and crouches as a stunted shrub at altitudes of twelve thousand feet. The "limber pine" it is called, from the toughness of its fibre, which alone enables its long limbs to sustain the whipping they get. The leaves form thick, beautiful dark-green tufts, which are not shed until the fifth or sixth year. The cones are three to ten inches long, purplish; scales rounded, abruptly beaked at the apex; narrow wings entirely surround the seeds, which fall in September.
This is the lumber pine of the semi-arid ranges of "The Great American Desert"; the main dependence of builders, too, on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in Montana.
The White-bark Pine
P. albicaulis, Engelm.
The white-bark pine is a rippled, gnarled, squatting tree, whose matted branches, cumbered with needles and snow, make a platform on which the hardy mountain-climber may walk with safety in midwinter. It offers him a springy mattress for his bed, as well. The trunk is covered with snowy bark that glistens like the ice-mantle that lies on the treeless mountain-side just above the timber line.
From a twelve-thousand-foot elevation on the Rocky Mountains, in British Columbia and south to the Yellowstone, the tree clambers down to the five-thousand-foot line, where it sometimes attains forty feet in height; its dark green! rigid leaves persist from five to eight years, always five in a bundle, and never more than two and a half inches long. The cones, horny-tipped, dark purple, one to three inches long, are ripe in August; the large sweet seeds are gathered and eaten by Indians. In California the' tree's range extends into the San Bernardino Mountains.
THE TWO "FOXTAIL" PINES
Two Western pines are distinguished by the common name "foxtail pine," because the leaves are crowded on the ends of bare branchlets. P. Balfouriana, M. Murr., has stiff, stout dark green leaves with pale linings. The tree is wonderfully picturesque when old, with an open irregular pyramid, on the higher foothills of the California mountains, or crouching as an aged straggling shrub at the timber-line. Its cones are elongated, the scales thickened and minutely spiny at tip.
The second five-leaved foxtail pine is P. aristata, Engelm., also called the "prickle-cone pine," from the curving spines that arm the scales of the purplish brown fruits. This is a bushy tree, with sprawling lower branches and upper ones that stand erect and are usually much longer, giving the tree a strange irregularity of form. The leaves are short and crowded in terminal brushes. From a stocky tree forty feet high, to a shrub at the timber line, this tree is found near the limit of tree growths from the outer ranges of the mountains of Colorado to those of southern Utah, Nevada, northern Arizona and southeastern California. In Eastern parks it is occasionally seen as a shrubby pine with unusually interesting, artistic cones.
THE NUT PINES
The nut pines, four in number, supply Indians and Mexicans of the Southwest with a store of food in the autumn, for the seeds are large and rich in oils and they have keeping qualities that permit their hoarding for winter. The four-leaved P. quadrifolia., Sudw., scattered over the mountains of southern and Lower California, has four leaves in a cluster, as a rule. A desert tree, its foliage is pale gray-green, harmonizing with the arid mesas and low mountain slopes, where it is found. The cones are small with few scales, but the nut is five-eighths of an inch long and very rich.
P. cembroides, Zucc., with two to three leaves, is the "pifion," that covers the upper slopes of Arizona mountains with open forests fifteen to twenty feet high. The leaves are one to two inches long, dark green with pale lines, the branchlets orange-colored and matted with hairs. The large nuts are very oily, and so abundant in the mountains of northern Mexico that they are sold in large quantities in every town.
The pinon (P. edulis, Engelm.) ranges from the eastern foothills of the Colorado Rockies to western Texas and westward to the eastern borders of Utah, southwestern Wyoming, central Arizona and on into Mexico, often forming extensive open forests, and reaching an elevation of seven thousand feet. Short, stiff leaves in clusters of two or three, dark green, ridged, stout, often persist for eight or nine years. The tree is a broad compact pyramid; in age, dense, round-topped, with stout branch lets and abundant globose cones. Each scale covers two seeds, wingless, about the size of honey Iocust seeds, oily, sweet, nutritious and of delicious flavor. This is the pine nut par excellence, whose newest market is among confectioners and fancy grocers throughout the states.
The one-leaved nut pine (P. monophylla, Torr.), spreads like an old apple tree, and forms a low, round-topped, picturesque head, its lower limbs drooping to the ground. The reduction of the leaves in the clusters to lowest terms, gives the tree a starved look, and the eighteen or twenty rows of pale stomates on each leaf give the tree-top a ghostly pallor. The vigor of the tree is expressed in its abundant fruit, short, oblong, one to two inches in length, with rich' plump brown seeds upon which the Indians of Nevada and California have long depended. The wood supplies fuel and charcoal for smelters; and this stunted tree, rarely over twenty feet in height, forms nut orchards for the aborigines_ and the scattered population of whatever race, between altitudes of five and seven thousand feet. From the western slopes of the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, it ranges to the eastern slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada, to their western slopes at the head waters of King's River, and southward to northern Arizona and to the mountains of southern California.
John Muir says :
"It is the commonest tree of the short mountain ranges of the Great Basin. Tens of thousands of acres are coVered with it, forming bountiful orchards for the red man. Being so low and accessible, the cones are easily beaten of with poles, and the nuts are procured by roasting until the scales open. To the tribes of the desert and sage plains these seeds are the staff of life. They are eaten either raw or parched, or in the form of mush, or cakes, after being pounded into meal. The time of nut harvest is the merriest time of the year. An industrious, squirrelish family can gather fifty or sixty bushels in a single month before the snow comes, and then their bread for the winter is sure."
THE PITCH PINES
Pitch pines have usually heavy coarse-grained, dark-colored wood, rich in resin—a nuisance to the carpenter. The leaf-bundles have persistent sheaths. The cone scales are thick and usually armed. "Hard pine" is a carpenter's synonym. The group includes some of the most valuable timber trees in American forests.
The Longleaf Pine P. palustris, Mill.
The longleaf pine is preeminent in importance in the lumber trade and in the production of naval stores. It stretches in a belt about one hundred and twenty-five miles wide, somewhat back from the coast, all the way from Virginia to Tampa Bay and west to the Mississippi River. Isolated forests are scattered in northern Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
The trees are tall, often exceeding one hundred feet in height; with trunks slender in proportion, rarely reaching three feet in diameter. The narrow, irregular head is formed of short stout twisted limbs on the upper third of the trunk. The leaves are from twelve to eighteen inches long, forming dense tufts at the ends of the branches. Being flexible they drop and sway on the ends of erect branches like shining fountains, their emerald lightened by the silvery sheaths that invest each group of three.
Sapling longleaf pines have recently entered the market for Christmas greens in Northern cities. This threatens the renewal of longleaf forests that have fallen to the axe of the lumberman. Unless Federal restriction comes to the rescue, there is little hope of saving this young growth, for nothing can exceed in beauty a three-foot sapling of long-leaf pine as a Christmas decoration.
The lumber of this species is the "Southern pine" of the builder. Heavy, strong, yellowish brown, durable, it has a tremendous vogue for flooring and the interior finish of buildings. It is used in the construction of railway cars. Its durability in contact with water accounts for its use in bridge-building, and for masts and spars of vessels. A great deal of this lumber is exported for use in European shipyards. It has replaced the dwindling supply of white pine for building purposes throughout the North, and the strong demand for it has been followed by lumbering of the most destructive and wasteful type, because the forests are owned privately.
In the early days the American colonists in Virginia tapped the longleaf pine, collected the resin from the bleeding wounds, and boiled it down for pitch and tar. These crude beginnings established an industry now known as the "orcharding" of the longleaf pine. After a century of wastefulness and wanton destruction of the trees, it has become patent to all that scientific methods must be resorted to in the production of turpentine and other prOducts derived from the living trees. Otherwise the dwindling industry will soon come to an end.
Resin is the sap of the tree. The first problem is to draw it in a manner least wasteful of the product, and least dangerous to the life of the tree. The second process is the melting of the collected resin in a still and the drawing off of the volatile turpentine. What is left solidifies and is known as rosin.
"Boxing" the trees was the cutting of a grooved incision low on the trunk, with a hollow at the base of the vertical trough to hold the discharge of the bleeding sap-wood. Resin-gatherers visited the tapped trees and emptied the pockets into buckets by means of a Iadle. They also scraped away the hardened sap and widened the wounds to induce the flow from new tissues. This method cost the life of the tree in two or three years, and it became a prey to disease and a menace to the whole forest, as fuel for fires accidentally started. Nowadays, all reasonable owners of longleaf pine have discarded the old-fashioned boxing and installed methods approved by the Department of Forestry.
Tar was formerly derived from the slow burning of wood in a clay-lined pit. The branches, roots and other lumber refuse, cut in small sizes were heaped in a compact mound and covered with sods and earth. Smoldering fires soon induced a flow of smoky tar, thick as molasses, in the bottom of the pit. In due time the flow ceased, the fires went out, and charcoal was the result of this slow burning. Removing the charcoal, the tar became available for various purposes; boiled until it lost its liquid character, it became tough sticky pitch. This primitive pit method of extracting tar and making charcoal has been abandoned wherever intelligence governs the industry, and distillation processes have been installed.
The Shortleaf Pine
P. echinata, Mill.
The shortleaf pine ranks second to the longleaf in importance to the lumber industries of the East and South. It ranges from Staten Island, New York, to north Florida, and west through West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, southern Missouri, Louisiana and eastern Texas. It reaches its largest size and greatest abundance west of the Mississippi River, where great forests, practically untouched thirty years ago, have become the centre of the "yellow pine" industry, out of which vast fortunes have been made. The wood is preferred by builders, because it is less rich in resin, softer and therefore more easily worked. Young trees yield turpentine and pitch, and with the long-leaf and the Cuban pine much forest growth has suffered destruction in the production of these commodities.
The slender tree equals the longleaf in height and bears its dark green leaves in clusters of twos and threes, scattered on short branches that form a narrow loose head. The pale green, stout branchlets are lightened by the silvery sheaths of the young leaves (see illustrations, pages 214-215) which are short only in comparison with the companion species, the longleaf. The cones are abundant; the seeds numerous, winged for flight, retaining their vitality longer than most pine seeds. The tree is less sensitive to in-juries and has the propensity, unusual in the pine family, of throwing up suckers from the roots. In open competition, this pine will hold its own against the invasion of. other trees, if only allowed to do so. Much of the de-forested territory, let alone, will cover itself with a ripe crop of shortleaf pine lumber in a hundred years.
The Cuban Pine
P. Caribaea, MoreIet
The Cuban pine stands third in the triumvirate of lumber pines of the South. This is the "swamp pine" or "slash pine," found in the coast regions from South Carolina throughout Florida, and along the Gulf Coast to the Pearl River in Louisiana. It is a beautiful pine—tall, with dense crown of dark green leaves, in twos and threes, eight to twelve inches long, falling at the end of their second season, before they lose their brightness. A large part of the turpentine of commerce has been derived from these coast forests, as well as lumber, which takes its place in the Northern market with the longleaf and the shortleaf.
Natural reforestation has taken place in the Southeast, and a large part of the turpentine exported by Georgia and South Carolina to-day, is from second-growth Cuban pine, on land from which the lumber companies have stripped the virgin growth.
The Loblolly Pine
P. Taeda, Linn.
The loblolly or old field pine chooses land generally sterile and otherwise worthless. It grows in swamps along the Atlantic coast, from New Jersey through the Carolinas, and follows the Gulf from Tampa Bay into Texas. Inland, it is found from the Carolinas to Arkansas and Louisiana. It has remarkable vitality of seed and seedlings, which do equally well on sterile uplands, on water-soaked ground, or where soil is light and sandy. It is very apt to take possession of land once cleared for agriculture. The young trees crowd together and grow with tremendous vigor the first years of their lives, successfully holding large tracts in pure forests. The limbs are short, thick, matted, forming a compact rounded head; the leaves slender, stiff, twisted, pale-green, six to nine inches long, in groups of threes. The wood is rich in resin, but differs greatly in quality with age and the fertility of the soil. "Rosemary pine" was heavy, hard, close-grained, with a thin rim of soft sap-wood. This famous lumber, preferred by shipbuilders of many countries for masts, grew in the virgin forest of the Carolinas. Giants were cut in the rich marsh lands back from the Sounds. But the small lob-lolly pine, grown on sandy soil, is but third-grade lumber, the sap-wood three times as thick as the heart-wood and exceedingly coarse-grained. One merit has recently been discovered in this lumber, that formerly blackened before it was seasoned, by the invasion of a fungous growth. It quickly-absorbs creosote, which renders it immune from decay. It is used in the building of docks, cars, boats, and locally in house-building. Its wood makes a sharp, quick heat when dried. It is used in bakeries and brick kilns, and in charcoal-burning.
The Pitch Pine
P. rigida, Mill.
The pitch pine goes down to the very water's edge on the sand-dunes along the New-England Coast, and spreads on worthless land from New Brunswick to Georgia and west to Ontario and Kentucky. Occasionally in cultivation the tree is symmetrical, and grows to considerable size. In the most favorable situations, however, it rarely exceeds fifty feet in height, with gnarled rough branches, oftenest irregular in form and becoming painfully grotesque with age. The persistence of its clustered black cones adds to the tree's ugliness; and the tufted, scant foliage has a sickly yellowish-green color when new, and becomes darker and twisted the second year. The cones are armed with stout thorns and often remain on the trees ten or twelve years. The knots, particularly, are rich in resin—the delight of camping parties. "Pine-knots" and "candlewood" are household necessities in regions where these trees are the prevailing species of pine.
Starved as is its existence, the pitch pine springs up with amazing vigor after a fire. Suckers are sent up about the roots of the fire-killed trees, and the wind scatters the seeds broadcast for a new crop. The chief merit of the tree is that it grows on worthless land, and holds with its gnarled roots the shifting sand-dunes of the New-England Coast better than any other tree.
The Gray Pine
P. divaricata, Sudw.
The gray pine goes farther north than any other pine, following the McKenzie River to the Arctic Circle. From Nova Scotia to the Athabasca River, it covers barren ground, reaching its greatest height, seventy feet, in pure forests north of Lake Superior. In Michigan it forms the "jack-pine plains" of the Lower Peninsula. As a rule it is a crouching, sprawling tree, its twigs covered with scant short dingy leaves in twos, averaging an inch in length. The wood is a great boon to the regions this tree inhabits. It is light, soft, weak, and close-grained; used for posts, rail-road ties, building material and fuel. Its seeds germinate better from cones that have been scorched by fire.
The Digger Pine
P. Sabiniana, Dougl.
The digger pine is a western California tree of the semi-arid foothill country. Gray-green, sparse foliage on the gnarled branches gives the tree a forlorn starved look, as it stands or crouches, singly or in scattered groups, along the gravelly sun-baked slopes. The great cones, six to ten inches long, fairly loading the branches, express most emphatically the vigor of the tree. The thickened scales protrude at a wide angle from the central core, and each bears a strong beak, triangular, flattened like a shark's tooth, but curved. The rich oily nuts, as big as lima beans, furnish a nourishing food to the Indians. The Digger tribe harvested these nuts, and the pioneer gave the tree the tribal name.
The Western Pitch Pine
P. Coulteri, D. Don.
The Western pitch pine, most abundant in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, at elevations of about a mile above the sea, has cones not unlike those of the digger pine, in the armament of their scales. These are notable by being the heaviest fruits borne by any pine tree. Occasionally they exceed fifteen inches in length and weigh eight pounds. The seeds are one-half an inch in length, not counting the thin wing, which is often an inch long.
The leaves of this "big-cone" pine match the cones. They are stout, stiff, dark blue-green, six to sixteen inches long, three in a bundle, which has a sheath an inch or more in length. Crowded on the ends of the branches, these leaves would entitle this tree to qualify as a "fox-tail" pine, except for the fact that the foliage persists into the third and fourth year, which clothes the branches far back toward the trunk and gives the tree a luxuriant crown. The dry slopes and ridges of the Coast Ranges of California are beautified by small groves and scattered specimens of this striking and picturesque pine, so unlike its neighbors. Its wood is used only for fuel, In European countries this is a popular ornamental pine, planted chiefly for its great golden-brown cones.
The Knob-cone Pine
P. attenuata, Lemm.
The knob-cone pine inhabits the Coast Ranges from the San Bernardino Mountains northward on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains, into southwestern Oregon, where it forms pure forests over large areas, its altitude limit being four thousand feet. It is a tall slim tree of the hot dry fire-swept foot-hills, and it comes again with absolute certainty after forest fires. The clustered cones, three to six inches long, are amazingly hard and do not open at maturity, but wait for the death of the tree. Leaves three to seven inches long, in clusters of three, firm, rigid, pale yellow or bluish green, cover the tree with a sparse thin foliage-mass; but the branches, new and old, are covered with cones, many of which are ,being swallowed up by the growth of wood on trunk and limb. Thirty or forty years these cones may hang, their seeds never released and never losing their vitality, until fire destroys the tree. Then the scales open and the winged seeds are scattered broadcast. They germinate and cover the deforested slopes with a crop of knob-cone pine saplings that soon claim all standing room and cover the scars of fire completely.
The Monterey Pine
P. radiata, D. Don.
The Monterey pine, like its companion, the Torrey pine, is restricted to a very narrow area. They grow together on Santa Rosa Island. At Point Pinos, south of Monterey Bay, this tree stands a hundred feet in height, with trunks occasionally five to six feet in diameter, its branches spreading into a round luxuriant, though narrow, head. From Pescadero to San Simeon Bay, in a narrow belt a few miles wide, and on the neighboring islands, this tree finds its limited natural range; but the horticulturist has noted the silvery sheen of its young growth and the rich bright green that never dulls in its foliage. Its quick growth and handsome form in cultivation make it the most desirable pine for park and shade planting in California. Indeed it is a favorite park tree north to Vancouver along the Coast. It has been introduced into Europe and is occasionally met in parks in the Southeastern states.
The Western Yellow Pine
P. ponderosa, Laws.
The Western yellow pine forms on the Colorado Plateau the most extensive pine forests of the American continent. Mountain slopes, high mesas, dry canyon sides, even swamps, if they occur at elevations above twenty-five hundred feet, furnish suitable habitats for this amazing species, in some of its varying forms. From British Columbia and the Black Hills it follows the mountains through the Coast Ranges, Sierras, and the Great Continental Divide, to the highlands of Texas and into Mexico, forming the most extensive pine forests in the world. All sorts of construction work draw upon this wonderful natural supply of timber, from the droughty western counties of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Texas, to the Pacific Coast.
The typical tree has thick plates of cinnamon-red bark, a massive trunk, five to eight feet in diameter, one hundred to two hundred feet high, with many short, thick, forked branches in a spire-like head. In arid regions the trunk is shorter and the head becomes broad and round-topped. Near the timber line and in swamps, the trees are stunted and the bark is nearly black.
The leaves of this pine tree are two or three in a bundle, stout, dark yellow-green, five to eleven inches long, deciduous during their third season. Their color has given the name to the species, for the wood is not yellow, but light red, with nearly white sap-wood.
On the way to the Yosemite, the traveler meets the yellow pine—splendid tracts of it—with the giant sugar pine, in open park-like areas, where each individual tree has room to manifest the noble strength of its tall shaft.
The flowers appear in May, brightening the even color of the shiny leaves with their pink or brown staminate clusters two or three inches wide. The crimson pistillate cones hide at the ends of the branches, lengthening into fruits three to ten inches in length, and half as wide. Strong, recurving tips, armed with slender prickles, are seen in the scales of the reddish-brown cones that fall soon after they spread and liberate the winged seeds. These are produced in abundance, are scattered widely by the wind, and accomplish the renewal of these mountain forests.
The bark is usually very thick at the bases of the trunks, reaching eighteen inches on the oldest trees. With this cloak wrapped about its living cambium, the yellow pine is able, better than most trees, to survive a sweeping forest fire.
Botanists have found P. ponderosa extremely variable, and they quarrel among themselves about species and variety, for the tree endures many climates, adapts itself to varying conditions and develops a type for each habitat and region. In old lake basins on the Sierra slopes, "variety Jefreyi, Vasey," is the name given to the gigantic yellow pine, which there finds food and moisture in abundance and reaches its -finest proportions and its greatest lumber value.
In the Rocky Mountains, "variety scopulorum, Engelm.," is the type. "But all its forms can be traced to a common origin and so the parent species stands; and despite man's devastating axe the yellow pine flourishes in the drenching rains and fog of the northern coast at the level of the sea, in the snow-laden blasts of the mountains, in the white glaring sunshine of the interior plateaus and plains, and on the borders of mirage-haunted deserts, volcanoes, and lava beds, waving its bright plumes in the hot winds undaunted, blooming every year for centuries, and tossing big ripe cones among the cinders and ashes of nature's hearths." (John Muir.)
The Scrub Pine
P. conforta, Loud.
The scrub pine is the humble parent of one of the splendid Western lumber pines, whose description comes under its varietal name. Down the coast of Alaska, usually in sphagnum bogs, on sand-dunes, in tide-pools and deep swamps to Cape Mendocino, the indomitable, altogether-admirable scrub pine holds its own against cold, salt air and biting arctic blasts. No matter how stunted, gnarly and round-shouldered these trees are, one thing they do, often when only a few inches high: they bear cones, and keep them for years; and each season add more. Up from the sea the scrub pine climbs, ascending the Coast Ranges and western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, changing its habit to a tree twenty to thirty feet tall with thick branches and dark red-brown bark, checked into oblong plates. Gummy exudations of this pitch pine make it peculiarly liable to running fires. Thousands of acres are destroyed every summer, but they seize the land again and soon cover it with the young growth. This happens because the burned trees drop their cones, which open and set free the seeds which have never lost their vitality.
In all the vast region over which this vagrant tree swarms, it furnishes firewood and shelter. The pioneer blesses it, and a great multitude of wild things, both plant and animal, maintain their lives in comfort and security because of its protection.
The lodge-pole pine or tamarack pine is but a variety (Murrayana) of P. contoria, that grows in forests on both slopes of the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming, at elevations of from seven to eight thousand feet, and stretches away into British Columbia and Alaska, and southward to the San Jacinto Range. Between eight thousand and nine thousand five hundred feet in altitude, along the Sierra Nevada in California, it reaches its greatest size and beauty, and forms extensive dense forests. The young trees have very slender trunks, and often stand crowded together like wheat on the prairie. An average forest specimen is five inches in diameter, when thirty or forty feet in height. No wonder the Indian in Wyoming and Colorado called it "the lodge-pole pine," for their supple trunks fitted these trees, while yet saplings, to support the lodge he built.
Richer, moister ground nourishes this fortunate off-spring of the scrub pine. The two-leaved foliage, usually about two inches long, wears a cheerful yellow-green, while the parent tree is dark and sombre, with leaves an inch in length. The hard, strong, brown wood of contorta contrasts strikingly with that of its variety, which is light yellow or nearly white—soft, weak, straight-grained and easily worked. Its abundance in regions where other timber is scarce, brings it into general use for construction work. It also furnishes railroad ties, mine timbers and fuel, with the minimum of labor, since trunks of proper sizes can easily be selected.
The Indians, whose food supply was always precarious, gathered branches and made a soft pulp of the inner bark, scraped out in the growing season. This they baked, after shaping it into huge cakes, in pit ovens built of stones, and heated for hours by burning in them loads of fire-wood. When the embers were burned out, the oven was cleaned and the cakes put in. Later they were smoked with a damp fire of moss, which preserved them indefinitely. "Hard bread" of this type provisioned the Indian's canoe on long trips. Inedible until boiled, it was a staple winter food at home and on long expeditions, among various tribes of the Northwest.
The Red Pine
P. resinosa, Ait.
The red pine, also called the "Norway pine" for no particular reason, is something of an anomaly. Its wood is soft like that of the white pine with which it grows, and though resinosa means "full of resin," it is not so rich as several other pitch pines. Its paired leaves and red bark reveal its kinship with the Scotch pine, a European species, very common in cultivation in America.
Seemingly intermediate between soft and hard pines, P. resinosa appeals to lumbermen and landscape gardeners because it embodies the good points of both classes. No handsomer species grows in the forests, from New Bruns-wick to Minnesota and south into Pennsylvania. The sturdy red trunk makes a bright color contrast with the broad symmetrical pyramid of boughs clothed in abundant foliage. The paired, needle-like leaves, dark green and shining, are six inches in length. The flowers are abundant and bright red, more showy than is ordinary in the pine family. Brown cones one to three inches long with thin unarmed scales, discharge their winged seeds in early autumn, but cling to the branches until the following summer.
The wood of red pine is pale red, light in weight, close, grained with yellowish or nearly white sap-wood. Logs a hundred feet and more in length used to be shipped out of Canadian woods to England. Singularly free from large knots and other blemishes, they made huge spars and masts of vessels, as well as piles for dockyards, bridges, etc. Other woods have proved more durable, and the largest red pine timber has been harvested. So its importance in the lumber trade has declined.
But in cultivation the red pine holds its own for its quick growth, its hardiness, its lusty vigor and its beauty of color contrasts. It grows on sterile ground exposed to the sea, forming groves of great beauty where other pines would languish and die. For shelter belts, inland, it is equally dependable, and as specimen trees in parks and gardens it has few equals. At no season of the year does it lose its fresh look of health. Young trees come readily from seed, and throughout their lives they are unusually free from in-juries by insects and fungi.