I saw this decorated tree near Sisters, Oregon. There was a nice contrast between the rough brown ponderosa pine bark and the delicate tufts of fluorescent green lichen.
One of my favorite local trees is the western larch, Larix occidentalis. This conifer tree is unique because it drops its needles in the winter. Before they litter the forest floor, the needles turn a distinctive golden-yellow color. They stand out from the deep green shades of surrounding trees.
They have a delicate, almost lacey, growth form. Look at these needles radiating out in little groups of 15-30 on this branch. They are softer and more flexible than some of their pine tree cousins.
A home for wildlife
A wide range of wildlife relies on larch for food and cover. Squirrels feed on the cones and cache the seeds for future use. Songbirds nest and forage in their branches. They are especially important to pileated woodpeckers. This tree is an important food source for several kinds of grouse. Large mammals forage on the needles as a last resort since they are not as tasty as other trees.
Western larch trees reach a height of 98-197 feet. They can live up to 1,000 years. You may know them by one of their nicknames – tamarack.
The many uses of the western larch
People value the wood of this tree for burning and in construction. It’s a favorite firewood because it burns hot and has a sweet fragrance. We use larch wood in fencing, flooring, exterior trim, and cabinets. Thin strips of flexible larch wood are sometimes used in yacht construction.
Indigenous people used this tree in several ways. They used an infusion to treat laryngitis and tuberculosis. Resin was used for healing cuts. Resin tea helped relieve coughs and colds. They ate the cambium and sap. Native peoples chewed a gum from larch trees to ease sore throats. People made baking powder and medicine from galactan, a natural sugar in the wood.
We currently use the gum from the tree in lithography, paint, ink, food, and pharmaceuticals. Resin is used in producing turpentine and other products.
The photos above were taken near Sisters, Oregon. These trees are in the southern tip of the range for western larch. They occur north to southeastern British Columbia and east to western Montana.
I took the photo below in the Blue Mountains near Baker City, Oregon. Larch are common along stretches of the highway there. They grow at elevations between 1,600 and 7,900 feet and can tolerate temperatures as low as -58° F.
I’ve always wanted a western larch tree, but they grow too tall for my yard. Maybe I should settle for a bonsai version, like the one shown in my last photo. Hint hint… 😀
Aspen trees in the fall are beautiful from far away and up close. I’m featuring autumn portraits of aspens in central and eastern Oregon.
A far away aspen stand glowing in a blaze of color on Hart Mountain.
Moving in closer to… an aspen-lined meadow at Aspen Day Use Area near Dillon Falls.
Taking a step closer to… a golden-leaved aspen in Pine Nursery Park in Bend.
Edging in closer to… the many-eyed bark of aspen trees in the Old Mill District of Bend.
Focusing up close on… frosty aspen leaves near Sunriver Nature Center.
A tree in the making up close and in black and white.
It’s time once again for fun with photos. Welcome to Photo Bloopers 4! This is what I do with pictures that don’t quite fit in or turned out weird looking. They needed a few words to make them more interesting. Hope they entertain you!
Do you want to see more of my Photo Bloopers? See:
We got some much needed snow in the last few days of our mild winter. This close-up of spruce cones in snow was taken in my yard in Bend, Oregon.
Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)
Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)
A photograph of spruce cones up close that I took in my Bend, Oregon yard.
Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)
is bright bouquets
shining in fading light
warming our souls through the winter
The Ents are watching you so be kind to our forests.
Ponderosa pine is a tree for the senses. These trees can grow as tall as 268 feet. Their bark turns an interesting shade of orange-red as they mature.
The branches twist and contort into interesting shapes as the tree ages.
The furrowed bark has been described as smelling like vanilla, butterscotch, or cinnamon. The bark looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
I love taking pictures of bark! See Silent Barks for a few more of my photos.
Ponderosas grow in mountainous areas but can also be found along meandering waterways.
Ponderosa pines host a wide variety of wildlife species, including great horned owls.
Though young trees are destroyed by fire, older Ponderosa pine trees have thick bark, which can protect them in low intensity fires.
Trees in burned areas produce cones with more seeds. More seedlings grow in burned areas and in edges between burned and unburned areas.
This lesson will have to end here because my dog is eating my “model.” She likes pinecones better than any toy I can buy her at the store. 😀
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Trees
These images show branches in a new light…
Reclining and resting in a sea of green
Coated with a covering of snow
Framing a fiery sunrise
Burdened with a bounty of fruit
Shrouded by the smoke of a prescribed burn
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical Light
A bluebird of unhappiness
The mountain bluebird perched on the snag for a long time in a drenching rainstorm. While all the other birds sought shelter, he stubbornly remained on his perch. He wondered if it really was a bluebird day. The bird thought his brilliant blue plumage would attract a mate by reminding her of the sky on a sunny day. No such luck!
Weekly Photo Challenge – I’d rather be…
Silent barks speak with voices needing to be heard.
Unknown worlds are tucked into their cracks and crevices.
Layers peel away to reveal glimpses of their hearts.
Their eyes gaze at us with infinite wisdom.
They sometimes wear disguises to cover up who they are.
But by peeking under silent barks, we learn we are all the same beneath.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Out of This World
Here is a weathered old tree that is beautiful even without any leaves. Its trunk leans and twists but the tree still manages to keep standing.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Weathered
Sharp and cutting
Smooth and soothing
Colored by what surrounds them
Forked and dividing
Fibrous and fortifying
Defined by what surrounds them
Tangled and eroding
Tranquil and tempering
Embraced by what surrounds them