Condor Watch Talk

The Tree site

  • inaspin by inaspin

    I think that Canmore pointed out that this must be the most photographed site ever, but what is the species of the tree? I'm from the southern hemisphere and we have something that resembles this one - commonly referred to as sheoaks or buloaks which have a kind of cone for the seeds. Also, it is amazing just how much the surface vegetation has changed over the time period of the images. In the beginning there were several small plants with wide grey-green leaves. These have disappeared to be replaced by grasses - any thoughts on what the plant might be? It's all fascinating.

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  • wreness by wreness moderator

    I found two trees that could fit the bill. One is a Torrey Pine. I'm kind of thinking "maybe not" on that, though it looks like it, because Pinus torreyana was one of the rarest pine species in the world in the early 20th century, with only around 100 trees surviving. With conservation the wild population has grown to about 3,000 trees in present times which doesn't mean there could be one hanging out with the condors, but it seems it would be a "known" tree if it was so rare. The rare with the rare so to speak 😃

    Another one that fits the bill is a Bishop Pine. These are much more common. They do have pine cones and I think I've seen small ones at the site but it's hard to tell the size if they are on the tree.

    They are in the same family as sheoaks or buloaks I imagine; all in the fir/conifer family, with cones.

    (On a side note: The Coulter Pine, which looks like this tree, also, has the heaviest pine cone of all North American Trees. They can weigh in at 10 pounds (4.53 kg). They're typically 8-16 inches long 8-40.64 cm)
    The longest cone comes from the Sugar Pine (which looks like this tree....sigh...). They average about 10-20 inches (25.4- 50.8cm) with exceptionally long cones growing up to 26 inches long. (66cm)

    I'm working on a blog showing the changes of that site over the years. You're right - maybe all that condor poo helped grow the place because it sure started out as nothing but sand and rock! They do mow the area to keep it clean so the camera can take the photos, and have purposely laid down straw in the past, too.

    No idea on what the weeds and plants are that grown around there. I found a database if you want to look but it's pretty daunting. I can see if one of the scientists who lives in the area would know. 😃

    It would be awesome to have a Live cam at this site, as well as a Live microphone.

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  • inaspin by inaspin

    Thanks wreness 😃 Australian "pines" aren't from the conifer family, and occur as scattered individuals rather than forest. I shall follow the trail you have given. I think we practically have Live Cam as it is, but a Live microphone would be awesome, so we can know what they are chatting about. Or what their terms of abuse are, which seems more likely! 😉 If it helps, I've started a collection of this site, with the varying vegetation - it's in no particular order datewise.

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  • vjbakker by vjbakker scientist

    The Tree site is in Pinnacles National Park so we can use their plant list to help us: http://www.nps.gov/pinn/learn/nature/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=114986

    Conveniently, there's only one pine listed, Pinus sabiniana, or Gray Pine, and the google images online fit this tree we know so well. I lived in California for about 10 years, and we used to call these Foothill Pines.They grow in oak woodland areas.

    I'll look into the shrub vegetation and see what I can dig up.

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  • wreness by wreness moderator in response to vjbakker's comment.

    @ inaspin - well! I learned something new - thank you! @ VJ - ditto! I don't think I even saw that one listed but that's what I get for using Yahoo's search engine and looking at what they come up with (which was FOUR pine trees for SoCal)

    We have such an awesome bunch here 😃 You guys rock!

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  • inaspin by inaspin in response to vjbakker's comment.

    We have such an awesome bunch here 😃 You guys rock! - from me too! Thanks VJ. The tree was an 'odd man out' as a pine, because it has a rounded shape rather than the traditional conical shape of a normal pine. Even the Google search came up short and that's unusual in itself.
    OOOH I love that the non-native plants are described as 'alien' we refer to our versions as non-native; sometimes feral or invasive pest plants if they get in the crops!

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  • wreness by wreness moderator in response to inaspin's comment.

    We learn so much here...it's so great 😃

    We do call "non-native" species "invasive species" here, too. In Lake Michigan (one of the Great Lakes) we've been battling the Zebra Mussel, a little black and white striped (funny how that worked) thing that grow like barnacles over the grates that suck the water from the lake to be filtered and treated. When it gets bad, you can actually taste them and the extra treatment that has to go into the water to combat their evilness - a sort of "dirt" taste. These were brought to the lake in some ship's ballast water, as has been most all the invasive species that find their way in, it seems.

    In the South of the U.S. where it's hot, there's been a running joke ever since I can remember about the plant/weed called "Kudzu", which was purposely brought to the U.S.in 1876, from China, as an ornamental porch cover and a cheap feed for cattle. The thing grows like..well..a weed and now covers trees and barns, light poles and even houses, making them look like a waterfall of green. It's nicknamed "The weed that ate the South".

    Recently near Chicago, we have been infested with the Asian Carp in some of our rivers, a fish again brought in by a ship's ballast water. This thing in making its way to the major river systems and they're trying to keep it out of the Great Lakes where it would change the face of the country. The government (God help us...) is frantically trying to keep it in check before it does or we're all doomed. These fish are gigantic and jump high out of the water when startled, smacking all in their path. You have to see the video to believe it.. They are so dense in the water they're eating everything, killing off everything and sucking all the oxygen out. Any boat that goes by or slight disturbance causes mayhem that'd be funny if it wasn't dangerous. . They hurt. They can break your nose or worse. So far there is no way to get rid of them or even slow them down. They're considered a delicacy in Asia and they're trying to convince us they're yummy and wouldn't we really like to eat these things? I've had one and really - I'd rather eat cat food. Hey, there's an idea...

    Also "not funny" are the fire ants we ended up with and the African Killer Bees that can sting dozens of times and are vicious as sharks. To name a few. No Brumbys yet 😉

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