Quote of the Week

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth.
I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.
Helen Hayes

Bristle Cone Pine - Pinus Aristata

This tree is made for the high hills of Northumberland County and is one of the oldest living species on earth. These trees were discovered in east Central California just north of Death Valley and grow at 4342 metres or over 14,000 feet. Strong winds prevail here and removes the moisture and snow covering quickly. They are exposed to these strong dry winds, little moisture, snow and cold temperatures which can range there from over 21degrees C to -32 C. But what is more incredible is the age of the living specimens. These trees grow to 60' but you will have to be patient, these trees are slow growers. The tree is young at 1,500 years! The average age trees in California and Nevada is about 1,000 years old with some older than 4,000 years. How do these trees do it? Needles can live 20 - 30 years on these trees. Our Ontario tree Pinus Strobus needles are replaced with new needles every 2 years. The long lived needles of the Bristle Cone Pine provides a stable photosynthetic capacity to sustain the tree over years of severe stress. Bristle Cones will stand for hundreds of years after death and only fall after years of decay at the roots. Invasions of bacteria, fungus or insects are unknown to Bristle Cone because of the highly resinous wood. The oldest Bristle Cones are in the most exposed sites.
The tree is called Bristle Cone for the long hooked spine on the scales of cones. Male flowers or catkins are red-purple in colour, the female cones are ovoid or egg shaped and dark purple to brown when mature. Even the oldest trees can produce viable seeds. A Bristle Cone trunk may grow less than 0.01 of an inch in girth per year. It is because of the age of these trees that have been able to learn about drought in past centuries by studying the rings of dead trees.  It is now illegal to cut or damage any of these trees in US National State Parks and access to sites is monitored. These trees are highly prized by the US Forest Service and access to see them is limited. You can own one of these very beautiful slow growing trees, they are successful here in Northumberland County, especially in the high, windy and dry sites of our hills.
Here is a photo of the Bristle Cone Pine John and Dawn planted at their farm high on top of drumlin in Hamilton Township. It loves the high winds and exposure of the site. Although it will out-live us by about 4,000 years we love the idea of planting something with such longevity.