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Trees of Clolrado
Transcript of Trees of Clolrado
By Ella Lefebure
The slopes of Mount Evans include several distinct environments. Below Echo Lake, the mountan forest is dominated by lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, and in some areas, blue spruce, with patches of quaking aspen. Echo Lake is high enough to be in the subalpine forest, where engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and bristlecone pine dominate. The bristlecone pines are the oldest trees in Colorado.
Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)
Bristlecone pine can be very longlived. A Bristlecone five feet high may be over 500 years old. The oldest trees are found in arid locations with
reduced precipitation, on welldrained, rocky,
south facing slopes. It can grow in cool places
with very little water, where it grows so slowly
that the growth rings are very narrow. Bristlecone pine is found south of Berthoud Pass and James Peak in Colorado but rarely if ever north
Needles in bundles of five; commonly 1 to 1 1/2 inches long; curved;
glossy and dark green. The Cone scales are graybrown or dark brown, and tipped with a slender, curved bristle.
Cones are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long;
smaller and darker than Limber pine cones.
Bark on young trees (up to 5 inch diameter) is thin, smooth, and grayish with a hint of red, or even purple or Bristlecone pine
On old trees the bark becomes redbrown, orangebrown, or dark brownish gray, and thicker (1/2 to 3/4 inch),
furrowed or broken into flat ridges covered with small scales. In windy locations, gray bark on the upwind side
on bare limbs may have a reddishbrown tinge.
Limber pine (Pinus flexilis)
This pine is best known as a tree of high, cold, and windy ridges, especially above 9000 feet (2750 m). Limber pine can grow well on high forest sites
that are too stony, dry and windy for most other trees. Long, thin Limber pine branches can be bent completely back on themselves, into a circle, without strain or
cracking. Some Limber pines in Colorado exceed 1000 years in age. Like Bristlecone, the wood of ancient Limber pine can be sculpted by wind
and ice into complex and curved forms. Some old trees have living growth on a few small branches while much
of the tree is dead.
Limber pine continued
Needles are usually in bundles of five; sometimes three or four; stout or rigid, 1 1/2 to 3 inches long; often 2
inches or more. Needles tend to be
tufted on the end of each branch. Cones are 3 to 6 inches long (7 to 15 cm) and sometimes more, oval in outline, with no bristles. Mature cones are
pale or light brown; scales are thick and broad at the ends with no bristle at the tip. On most trees the bark is pale gray, or sometimes “silverywhite.”
Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
Lodgepole reaches a typical height of 70 to 80 feet (21 to 24 m) but usually is less than
15 inches (38 cm) in diameter, in the southern Rockies. Lodgepole pine are common in Colorado, from 7000 to 9800 feet (2100 m to 3000 m) above sea level. Lodgepole is generally found in forests composed entirely of this one kind of tree, but also is mixed with other trees
of the Montane and Subalpine zones. 50% to 85% of the cones of a lodgepole open only in a forest fire. Baked at 500 degrees F (260 C), some cones will open enough to release seeds within four
minutes, and most cones are fully open in ten minutes.
The ponderosa's natural fragrance is chemically close to vanilla.
In the southern Rockies it grows in sunny and fairly dry locations at
5500 to 8000 feet (1680 to 2400 m) elevation, and occasionally to 10,000 feet (3050 m) elevation.
Ponderosa pine can endure drought and high temperatures, suiting it to locations where many other
kinds of conifers could not survive, however; Low temperature inhibits Ponderosa growth, so it is generally not found in the higher forests.
Needles in bundles of two, 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) long; typically 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 (3.8 to 6.3 cm)
inches, clustered near the ends of the branches. Mature cones are 3/4 to 2 inches long, hard, usually closed, and are attached very firmly to the stem, so
much so that attempting to twist off a cone may break the stem. On young trees, the bark is covered with small grayish scales. Bark of mature trees usually is uniformly
gray in small thin scales, a little darker than ash-gray, to nearly black. It may have some light brown,
orange-brown, or reddish-brown scales, or be orange-brown all over. It is not unusual to see one side of
the tree orange-brown and the other side dark gray.
Needles normally occur in bundles of two or three; rarely as one, four, or five. Needle length is usually in the range of 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) long. Only
Ponderosa pine has such long needles among the conifers of Colorado. Mature cones are 2 1/2 to 6 inches (6 to 15 cm) long, and fairly broad. Each thick hard scale is tipped
with a short bristle.
Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
The Blue spruce is knowen for its blue-green color and even tapering shape. In Colorado Blue spruce is found between 6000 and 9500 feet (1800 to 2900 m) elevation, usually in moist locations. It typically grows to 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 m) in height. The Blue spruce is the state tree of Colorado, selected by vote of the state's school children on April 15, 1892.
Blue Spruce continued
Needle length is 1 to 1 1/2 inch long (2.5 to 3.8 cm); usually more than 1 inch (2.5 cm), the needles are very sharp and stiff. Mature cones are 2 to 6 inches long (5 to 15 cm); commonly 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long (6.3 to 9 cm). Bark thin, pale gray, scaly and smooth on young trunks. Bark on old trunks becomes divided into
vertical, scaly, pale gray to dark gray ridges.
Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii)
The Engelmann spruce is the most widespread spruce tree in America, and is common from 9300 to 11000 feet (2800 to 3400 m) and up to treeline in Colorado. Bare trunks of Engelmann spruce, dead and stripped of bark, often show an unusual feature: the grain twisted along the entire trunk, in the same pattern as a candy cane. Trunks with both right-handed and left handed twist can be found.
Englemenn Spruce continued
Needles are one-half to 1 1/8 inch long, blunt or sharp pointed, and grow on all sides of twig. Mature cones are 1.0 to 2.5 inches long; usually 1.5 to 2.0 inches. The bark is typically in thin scales of pale gray, sometimes showing reddish underneath or turning entirely reddish or orange-brown.
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Douglas fir is one of the primary forest trees in Colorado. Douglas fir typically grows in Colorado between 6000 and 10000 feet (1800 to 3000 m) above sea level, especially in comparatively cool and moist locations. Douglas fir is not actually a true fir tree, and its correct name is Douglas-fir, to make a distinction. It has needles similar to a fir (flat and soft), but the cones are more like spruce cones and not at all like fir cones.
The needles are single and flat, 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches (1.9 to 3.2 cm) long, dark green or blue-green to green with a very slight yellow tint. The Douglas fir cones are easy to recognize and absolutely distinctive. No other tree has cones like
these. True fir cones are nothing like Douglas fir cones.
Mature cones are 1 1/2 to 4 inches (3.8 to 10 cm) long; hang downwards from the twigs, and fall intact
from the trees when mature. The distinctive pale brown color of mature Douglas fir
trunks, free of any hint of red or orange, combined with the twisted furrows, is reminiscent of manila
rope, and is not seen on other trees.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Aspen is one of the most widely distributed trees of North
America. It grows in forests from 6500 to 11000 feet (1950 to 3400 m) in elevation, and up to treeline, usually in groves, and often in moist sites. It commonly grows to 20 to 60 feet (6 to 20 m) in height and less than 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. Aspen is the sole widespread broadleaf tree of the mountain
forests. Seeds are produced, with "cotton" much like cottonwoods, but the seeds hardly ever germinate and grow. Aspen
mainly reproduces by sprouts growing up from the roots. The new sprouts may appear up to 25 feet (8 m) from
the parent tree. Each "tree" in a grove may be one stem of a much larger organism. Entire groves of aspen
actually may be the same single organism.
Some aspen groves appear to be the largest and oldest living organisms on Earth, easily reaching several thousand years in age.
Quaking Aspen Continued
Aspen bark contains salicin, a chemical closely related to aspirin,
and the bark was used by Indians
and pioneers to treat fevers. Aspen can photosynthesize in winter, without leaves. Aspen twigs appear to absorb some of the leaves' nutrients
before leaf fall, and there is chlorophyll in aspen bark. Aspen leaves are nearly round, a broad oval, or heart
shaped;1 ½ to 3 ½ inches (3.8 to 9
cm) long and wide.the bark is usually smooth and very pale green to pale white,most bark damage will cause
rough black scar tissue.