Random tree trivia...

Bonsai Nut

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I love to collect random bits of trivia in the corners of my brain, so share with me some interesting random info that is cool once you know it, but somewhat uncommon to know :)

For example, did you know palm trees have only one bud? If the bud is injured the whole tree dies.
 

zelk

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did you know that needles can live on a bristlecone pine for up to 20 years?
 

bonsai barry

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Sequoia trivia

Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giagantium) seeds stay viable in the cone for at least 20 years. The tree, unlike pines, is unable to release the seeds, and is dependent on other means of drying out the cone and opening it up so that it can release its seeds. There is a beetle that bores through the stem of the cone severing its water connection, allowing the cone to release its seeds. There is also a squirrel (douglass squirrel) that will cut the cones at the rate of up to several hundred per hour and store them for the winter. This also works to dry out the cone. Of course when branches break off of the tree, the cones on that branch can then open up. An intense fire may also do the same thing, but the most important role fire plays is to prepare the seed bed and open the forest canopy so sunlight can hit the forest floor. (The lack of sunlight is a primary killer of seedlings.) Fire is so important that a sequoia grove is called a fire climax community. Fires must pass through the grove in regular intervals in order to maintain it as a the sequoia grove.
 

zelk

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The Most Isolated Tree known is a solitary Norwegian Spruce on Campbell Island in the Pacific. Its nearest companion is over 120 nautical miles away in the Auckland Islands.
 

Graydon

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Sand pine trivia

The only real tree in Florida scrub, sand pine is uniquely adapted to live in a plant community that depends on periodic fire for its continued existence. The cones of sand pine remain on the tree and do not open until the tree actually burns to death. Only the heat of a killing fire can melt the wax that seals the cones, thus allowing the release of seeds to start a new generation. This way, seeds are not wasted as they would be if they fell in the shade of the parent tree. And, the species is able to repopulate the site quickly after a devastating fire.

Above is an excerpt from floridata.com, from the 'Florida scrub' gallery.
 

BonsaiNinja

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I got Blisters on me Fingers!

The Manchineel Tree of the Caribbean coast and the Florida Everglades is a species that secretes an exceptionally poisonous and acid sap. Upon contact to the skin, a break out of blisters would occur. In the occasions where there is contact to the eye, a person can be blinded, and a bite of its fruit causes blistering and severe pain. This tree has been feared ever since the Spanish explorers came to the Americas in the 16th century.
 

rlist

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This is much more boring than the fire climax, but it may be considered interesting none-the-less.


Douglas-Fir, which makes up over 80% of native conifers west of the Cascade Range and one of the most common trees in the west, is one of two species native to North America in the Pseudotsuga genus. Because of its similarity to other genera, it has been at times classified as pine, spruce, hemlock and true fir. Because of its distintive cones, it was finally given its own genus, which means false hemlock. The hyphen in the common name shows that it is not a true fir and not a member of the Abies genus.
 

AlainK

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Although not a tree but actually more of a grass:

I heard -correct me if I'm wrong, that when a bamboo species flowers, every 40 years or so, all the plants of the same species flower at the same time everywhere in the world, and after flowering, the upper plant dies.

Myth or reality?...
 

CWTurner

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I heard -correct me if I'm wrong, that when a bamboo species flowers, every 40 years or so, all the plants of the same species flower at the same time everywhere in the world, and after flowering, the upper plant dies.
I read the same thing in a bamboo book that I have. Don't remember the dying afterwards part though.
CW
 
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Pine Tree Riot.

In the early 1700's the British Crown owned all Eastern white pines over 12" for ship masts. It was an offence to log them without the crown's permission. In 1772 in the town of Weare, New Hampshire deputies were sent to arrest some offenders. They were roughly treated by the locals and sent packing.
Returning with reinforcements, the British arrested the men, accused them of rioting and fined each 20 shillings.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Although not a tree but actually more of a grass:

I heard -correct me if I'm wrong, that when a bamboo species flowers, every 40 years or so, all the plants of the same species flower at the same time everywhere in the world, and after flowering, the upper plant dies.

Myth or reality?...
This is true, though the number varies between different bamboo species. The term is gregarious flowering, and it is a world wide phenomena.

There are many hundreds of species of true bamboos, both tropical and temperate species. About 2 thirds of the species flower gregariously, but there are a number of genera of true bamboo that do not follow the gregarious pattern.

Fargesia, a genus of bamboo often eaten by pandas. There are some 15 to 25 species of Fargesia, each species has its own number of years between gregarious flowering, usually 101, 103, 107, 109, or 113 years. Why these numbers? They are prime numbers greater than 3 times the average life span of their principal predator, the panda. Young Fargesia seedlings and Fargesia seed are nutritious and relished by Pandas. By having the gregarious interval greater than 3 times the average life span of its principal predator, the bamboo avoids the possibility of the panda synchronizing its population boom and bust cycles to take advantage of the bamboo flowering. For example when Fargesia murielae flowers, an area as large as New Hampshire or Vermont becomes covered with blooming bamboo and tons of nutritious seed per acre. So making flowering a rare event defeats a predator's attempts to have its population boom just prior, and in time to take advantage of the abundant seed. Neat trick - eh?

Divisions of plants and seedlings from a gregarious flowering species tend to stay on the same schedule, no matter where in the world the plants is, it will stay on the same schedule. Since flowers are the main botanically significant trait with which to identify a species of grass, botanical gardens all over the world often have to wait a century to verify the identity of bamboos in their collections. The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, near London UK, has an extensive collection of temperate bamboo species. Many have provisional names, and are waiting for the year they start to flower in order to verify and complete the botanical description process. I visited this collection in 1988 when I was real into bamboo. I'm ''not so much'' in love with bamboo, but still have 5 species, with 3 cultivars of one of the 5, all fully winter hardy, planted outdoors in my garden, north of Chicago. Some temperate bamboos are quite hardy.

Reality is the gregarious flowering usually lasts 2 to 5 years, during this time, instead of producing new culms (canes with leaves) the new culms only have flower heads, with very minimal leaves, mostly just sheath leaves. These are produced using the stored energy in the rhizome. New leaves are insufficient to replace this energy, within a couple years the rhizome will be exhausted. The seed is relatively large, like a wheat or rice seed, and the yield from bamboo compares to weight per acre as these grain crops, it is lower than wheat and rice per acre, but in the same order of magnitude, which means this seed is a huge metabolic cost to the plant. When the rhizomes are exhausted, they die. Occasionally one or two pieces of a clone in flower will survive, but it is quite rare. So in the Panda's native range, suddenly areas as large as a smaller New England State will be devoid of mature bamboo to eat. This life plan really screws with the Panda. They have to move, often fairly large distances when flowering finishes.

Lastly some of the gregarious species have populations that are tied to a different year. For example there are several populations of one of the Phyllostachys, both gregariously flower at roughly 113 year interval, but one flowered in the 1990's and the second flowered in 2008. Both are thought to be the same species, but they are curiously not synchronized. Collection data is not clear, whether they came from the same region or widely separated regions.

Some of the tropical bamboos are on much shorter schedules, 37, 41 and 47 year intervals are pretty common. All prime number intervals. The article did not identify the principal bamboo predators. National Geographic had an article about how in a region of India, the flowering every 47 years of a certain species bamboo caused wars the year after the flowering finished. The bamboo was a significant species of the local forest and forest edge. When flowering the rat population explodes, feeding on bamboo seed. When the flowering finishes, by the 3rd year the rat population is huge, the bamboo seed is gone, and the rats flood into the local villages eating all the stored rice, grain and any other stored food they can get to. The resulting food shortages lead to political strife, and prior to paved roads and easy transportation of famine relief food supplies the result would be war between the neighboring groups. The documentation of these wars went back nearly a millenia.

So that is a little I know about a really cool group of plants, the bamboo. I love the look of a well groomed grove of bamboo. A poorly groomed grove looks awful. Lately my plantings look like shit, bamboo is a high maintenance landscape plant. If you don't have time to groom the planting, at least twice a growing season, give the bamboo a pass.
 

CWTurner

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So that is a little I know about a really cool group of plants, the bamboo. I love the look of a well groomed grove of bamboo. A poorly groomed grove looks awful. Lately my plantings look like shit, bamboo is a high maintenance landscape plant. If you don't have time to groom the planting, at least twice a growing season, give the bamboo a pass.
Very interesting Leo. What kind of grooming are you writing about, litter cleanup, topping?
CW
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Very interesting Leo. What kind of grooming are you writing about, litter cleanup, topping?
CW
Once a grove gets older than about 10 years, there is a constant need to remove old, senile, dead culms. Cut out excess culms so one can see the culms in the interior of the planting. Removing lower branches if you want to expose the lower third of the culms, to give a more giant grove look. Especially if you have one of the fairly spectacular bright yellow with random green stripes type cultivars of bamboo, you want to expose the culms so you can see them. So removing branches from the lower third should be done. Also removing culms that come up ''out of bounds''. There are running bamboos and clumping bamboos, but regardless of type they both will spread. The runners spread quick. the clumpers is a slow steady march. either way, they spread, and by 10 to 20 years there will be major work required to push everything back in bounds. If your planting has culms over 10 feet tall usually you try to thin it to no more than one culm per 6 inch area, one per foot is common goal for thinning a grove. If you have giant bamboo, with culms over 40 feet, you thin to one every 3 to 6 feet. Remove the smallest diameter culms, keep the larger diameter culms. If you are raising bamboo for shoots, it is best to apply a layer of compost in spring after shoot harvest and again a deeper layer in autumn.

Usually once late spring and once in late summer or autumn, is all that is needed. On a small planting, its only a few minutes. But when the plantings get large or numerous separate plantings it can become quite time consuming.

Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' - a tropical clumping bamboo, lower branches pruned to show culms. Bambusa_multiple_AlfonseKarr.jpg

Phyllostachys nigra 'Bory' - Clouded leopard bamboo - a running bamboo, a variant of black bamboo - growing in Southern IL

DSCN0821.JPG

Winter hardy clumping bamboo - Fargesia nitida 'Jiuzhaigou' winter hardy in the ground to zone 5 a -25 F or -32 C
Fargesia nitida Jiuzhaigou.jpg

Phyllostachys edulis 'Moso' Giant timber bamboo in Japan

moso.jpg

Phyllostachys viridis 'Robert Young' at sister's home, Carbondale IL

Phyllo-vridis3.jpg

What happens if you don't groom your bamboo every year

house-bamboo-Sarah-Muehlbauer-2010.jpg
 

milehigh_7

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A significant number of Aspen trees in a grove are clones joined by underground roots. This, in essence, makes Aspen groves many times the apparent age of a single tree as they are in reality the same organism.

I verified this via core sample when I was getting one of my undergrad degrees. :)
 

milehigh_7

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The taproot of a mesquite can go over 100 feet deep in search of groundwater. This allows the tree to survive for several years without rainfall. (also why they are difficult to collect with success)
 

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