Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Spanish Fir - Abies pinsapo

To see the Spanish fir tree (Abies Pinsapo) in its native range one has to go to a rather small area of the "Sierra de las Nieves" mountains in Southern Spain not too far from the city of Ronda. I have been to one of the three remaining forests of these trees located near the small town of Yunquera. I took these pictures while hiking through the forest last year.

The image above is of the bright red pollen cones that are about the size of berries. The "leaves" of the are short, fairly thick and quite stiff. They remind me of some hair brushes that I have seen.

The Abies Pinsapo is a very conical tree until it gets up in years at which time it tends to become quite irregular in shape and often develops several main trunks. A good example of this is the champion tree of this species called the "Pinsapo de la Escalereta".

Another fir tree species that can be found in Spain is the Nordmann Fir.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Cedar of Lebanon

The Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) is in my opinion the most renown Evergreen tree of all time. It was valued by the Ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabs, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greeks and others. Its value stems from its resistant wood, its aromatic resin and it value as a robust ornamental tree for stately gardens.
The leaves of the Lebanese Cedar tree grow on the ends of short stems like the one in the image above. These little clusters of leaves "needles" are often referred to as rosettes. On the Lebanese Cedar these clusters contain anywhere from 30 to 40 individual needle like leaves that are just under one inch in length (2cm). The Atlas Cedar is very similar to its Lebanese cousin.
The seed cones of the Cedar of Lebanon grow upright much like fir cones and disintegrate while still on the branch. The image below shows the difference between the Lebanese (left) and Himalayan (right) ceder species. As you can see the Himalayan Cedar has longer leaves and fewer on each rosette.