Ever wondered why trees get so tall — or why they don’t get much taller? Me, too! People who have met me know I think about transpirational pull more than most folks. This topic has fascinated me without pause since I first heard about it, so I want to do my best to explain it in plain terms for this article.
A few years back, researchers at OSU determined that gravity and other forces would eventually overcome the water column in trees, and that this limit on the upward reach of water would limit growth to 350 – 400 feet; tabs kept on the world’s tallest trees show that so far, they conform to this range. Why is that?
Let’s take a break from all the issues and events for a long-absent species profile.
For reasons that you’d have to extract from me over drinks, I’d have to say that the ash is my absolute favorite tree. I feel a very personal connection to them — particularly the common ash, Fraxinus excelsior. (Incidentally, this would have been the species of Yggdrasil, the World Ash of Norse mythology.) The only native ash in the Pacific Northwest is Fraxinus latifolia, the Oregon ash, so I feel obliged to look at that, too. In fact, I’d like to take more of a class approach in this particular “species” profile.
It is pretty easy to identify a true ash, which is to say, any member of the genus Fraxinus. They are unique in having opposite branching and compound leaves, meaning all buds and twigs arise directly opposite from one another, and each leaf is composed of several leaflets.
It’s common enough to hear people jokingly refer to vegetarians as plant murderers. But today I present you with a study that may cast this notion in a strange new light. That’s right: plants can communicate using sound — and I’m not just talking about the Botanicals Twitter Kit.
Researchers from Britain, Italy and Australia recently found that plants not only respond to sound, but likely use clicking sounds to communicate with one another. The report, published in Trends in Plant Science, details experiments that used powerful acoustic equipment to record clicking sounds coming from the roots of corn plants. A simulated noise produced at the same frequency also caused young roots to grow in the direction of the sound.
I recently attended the 8th annual Who Will Own the Forest? conference, and I must say it was every bit as disorienting as I expected it to be.
As a forestry student, I thought that attending this conference would provide me with valuable insight into the bottom line aspects of private forestry in particular, and that this would expand my perspectives beyond the scope of forest management. And I did come away with a better understanding of those things, to some extent. On the other hand, the forestry conventions I generally attend are densely packed with directly-applicable information and lots of straight talk — so I felt a little out of my depth immersed in the world of finance.
Friends and readers, it is high time I provide a new post on this blog. However, a recent injury has made typing a bit of a difficulty, so we will all just have to wait some more.
Hopefully, I will be able to tell you fantastic things about sudden oak death and various current events within a month or so — sooner if I could find someone to take dictation (ha!). I’m sure you’re all terribly disappointed, so to help soothe your deep emotional pain, here is a very cool enhanced MRI image of a normal shoulder.
With any luck, mine will look like this again shortly!
We’re due up for a current events post, and this week’s theme is crazy ancient plants. Specifically, let’s talk about the intense gardening jealousy I feel toward the researcher who germinated a 32,000-year-old plant, and how in the world scientists discovered a 298-million-year-old forest underneath a coal mine in China.
So, the recipient of my botanical stink-eye is researcher Svetlana Yashina, who extracted the placenta (photo below) from the frozen seeds of a long leafed campion plant, Silene stenophylla, and grew them into flowers. While the flowers aren’t particularly dazzling (or envy-inspiring), it’s incredible that this plant sprang from a seed that lay frozen in the tundra of northeastern Siberia for 31,800 years.
Today we can all benefit from good note taking.
It’s been a while since I posted about the synthesis report Fire in Oregon’s Forests, but I found some things I jotted down, and these ideas have been rattling around in my head along with things I’ve picked up through work.
My notes seemed particularly relevant now that I am out of the West Cascade Douglas-fir zone and in the mixed conifer and hardwood of Northern California — where fire is a major concern for the forest. Add to that the pinch of nostalgia that comes from rooming with a first-year firefighter, and out comes this post.