Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Elephant Tree at Trees of Mystery, Redwood Highway, Calif.


I love the accidental art 
of the coffee cup rings 
on the back of this 
postcard featuring a 
tree with many hundreds
of age-indicating rings.

Consider this for a moment:
Ancient Redwoods

These largest of living things are from an ancient line, and near-redwoods were present on earth at the same time as the dinosaur. Once found almost world-wide, their natural range is now restricted to the foggy coastal belt of Northern California (the sequoia sempervirens), a strip in the Sierra Nevada mountains of sequoiadendron gigantia and a small group of meta sequoia (Dawn Redwood) in a remote valley in China. These are the only living forests left of a tree line that at one time spanned the earth. 

The above paragraph is taken from the About Redwoods sidebar tab at the Trees of Mystery. The website
 introduces itself and the park with these words:
Directly in the center of the Redwood National and State Parks, we are CALIFORNIA'S REDWOOD nature attraction and have been welcoming visitors to this part of the world for over 50 years. We are the premier Nature Attraction on California's North Coast.  Welcome to the California Redwoods!

It is an interesting website, with a tab featuring three of the "Big Trees" (great photos), but nothing specifically about The Elephant Tree. Not having it mentioned at the website when in the past there were postcards published about it makes me wonder (and hope not) that it may have rotted or burned. With an attraction that includes shopping, dining, and the "Sky Trail," a gondola ride up in the treetops, maybe The Elephant Tree simply lost favor with tourists and is no longer a big deal. I did see it mentioned as late as 2006 in comments at one of those online travel sites.

In any case, The Elephant Tree and the other trees at Trees of Mystery and Redwoods National and State Parks are Redwoods, or sequoia sempervirens, while the tree that many of you saw in the video released last week...the twin-giant that fell in a California forest, with the fall captured by a tourist from Germany, was a Giant Sequoia, or sequoiadendron gigantia. It was not in northern California with the Redwoods, but was in the Sequoia National Forest, inside Giant Sequoia National Monument.

This map indicates in a yellow block the location of The Redwood National Forest, which is near the area of the Trees of Mystery (site of The Elephant Tree).  [Source: Redwood National Park website]

This map from the Sequoia National Forest website shows the location where the Sequoia recently fell to the forest floor.

I've written in prior post(s) that the difference between Redwoods and Sequoias became important to me when, eleven years ago, we purchased the small divided lot to the side and back of our house in order to save the three Giant Sequoias living there from certain removal. That happened to their sibling (once there were four) on the part of the divided lot we did not purchase, and an ordinary house replaced it. A neighbor counted the rings of the felled Sequoia before the stump removal crews came, and I recorded the age on our calendar. Our three trees just celebrated their 83rd birthday! They are mere babes compared to the naturally-growing Sequoias and Redwoods! Some of you may remember a video (1.57) I posted in February of our dogs enjoying a light snowfall under the Sequoias in our yard. It may be viewed here.  
  • To view that short but amazing video clip of the twin-Sequoias falling, click here.
  • A park ranger discusses the historic occasion of the Sequoias falling while viewing several scenes of the fallen trees in this video
  • For the true story about what Ronald Reagan had to say about trees, specifically Redwoods, visit this factsheet at snopes.
    To further assist you in identifying the differences between Redwoods and Sequoias I am going to post the entire information page from the National Park Service, as I think it is most excellent.

    ALTHOUGH the giant sequoia and redwood are closely related, they exhibit many individual characteristics that distinguish them from each other. Perhaps the following major differences will help to answer some of the questions that may come to mind.

    Natural habitat.—The giant sequoia is found growing singly or in groups scattered for a distance of 250 miles along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in central California at elevations of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. The redwood grows near the Pacific Ocean along the northern California coast in a more or less continuous belt about 450 miles long and 15 miles wide. (See Distribution Map on the Inside Back Cover.)

    Method of reproduction.—Both species reproduce from seed, but the redwood is one of the few conifers that is also able to develop sprouts from cut stumps, roots, and burls.

    Foliage.—The foliage of the giant sequoia is scalelike and somewhat resembles that of the junipers; redwood foliage is in the form of two-ranked needles like the hemlock.

    Shape and size.—The giant sequoia is the largest tree in the world in volume and has an immense trunk with very slight taper; the redwood is the world's tallest tree and has a slender trunk.

    Cones and seed.—The cones and seed of the giant sequoia are about three times the size of those produced by the redwood.

    Woody structure.—The wood of the giant sequoia is much coarser in texture than that of the redwood, and growth rings of the redwood are wider. Both woods are highly resistant to decay.

    Color of bark.—The bark of the giant sequoia is bright reddish brown, whereas that of the redwood is a dull chocolate brown.



    Owen said...

    Love the coffee - tree - rings, but I guess the Mom in the "Hi Mom" message saw more utility in the card as a coffee cup mat than for its message... One can only wonder though why her coffee cup seems to be always running over ? A sloppy coffee drinker ? Maybe a saucer would have been in order ?

    Glorious info on these magnificent trees, though tragic that they have been forced back to relatively tiny retreats today. Will they survive the onslaught of man's need for ever more land ? In National Geographic this month there is a story about population and land pressure in East Africa... it doesn't look good there. Is that what the future holds more of ?

    naomi dagen bloom said...

    Think you will appreciate/enjoy "Occupy Poetry" YouTube; it's on my blog. Another way of doing words about what we care about.

    Looking to the Stars said...

    Wow, what a great post! Loved every word of it.
    I have never seen these beauties in person. To walk among them would be inspiring.

    susan said...

    Getting to see the Northern California Redwood Forest was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Seeing the Pacific from Rte 1 was right up there too.

    Anonymous said...

    I grew up outside of Sacramento, and going to the Redwoods is still one of my single best memories. I don't know of many more magical places, even when overrun by grumpy tourists in mini-vans! They speak to my soul :)

    KB said...

    Redwoods are beautiful.

    Rob-bear said...

    I always enjoy and appreciate the detail of your research and the precision of your writing.

    And in this case, the age of the post card. I see three rings.

    Lydia said...

    Owen~ The "Mom" addressee was my grandmother! Everyone called her Mom and, in this case, I do not recognize the person as being family. The sender even misspelled Mom's street, making me think it was an acquaintance. In that case, Mom probably decided to use the card as a coaster to protect a piece of furniture rather than getting up for a real coaster. Maybe she was on the phone or something.... Then again, she did babysitting in her later years for extra money and maybe this was actually a demonstration of tree rings for some child!
    The National Geographic issue sounds so depressing. Too many people, too few who care. I still have some strange hope that nature will win in the end.

    naomi~ I did enjoy that at your blog very much. Left you some other comments there as well. Thank you for your visit here. :)

    Looking to the Stars~ Glad you enjoyed this. I have never walked among the either, have seen the tall ones on the southern Oregon coast that give a teaser about what is just beyond the border.

    susan~ See my comment above. I still have to make that trip. I did drive all of Rte 1 down to Baja with a college boyfriend, and I must agree that it is a spectacular memory.

    Amber Lee~ Marvelous childhood memories you have! I do wonder why my folks never made a family vacation out of that, as we lived in Reno and it wouldn't have been so out of the way. Your comments and those of others have made me realize it is a must-do trip!

    KB~ Yes, they are.

    Rob-bear~ What a lovely compliment. Thank you, Bear.
    Ah, so you dated the card by its rings...a not altogether illogical thing to do in this case!

    Don't Feed The Pixies said...

    well good on you for saving those trees - glad that you were able to do so

    We visited the redwoods more years ago than i care to remember - all i can really remember about it is they were very tall

    And very red

    Great postcard - and yes how funny that the postcard has rings also :)

    Lydia said...

    Pixies~ I remember you said you had visited them, and I think it's great you have seen them --but sad that I have not!
    Our Sequoias are very red. I love them, and unfortunately, so do a new family of raccoons who are tearing up the bark as they go up and down the trees. An arborist told me some years ago that (at that point) he didn't see any harm. But I am concerned and may call the specialist back for another review. I love the raccoons but those trees come first.

    Brian Miller said...

    very cool...i like the coffee stain as well...what an interesting tree...i love trees...

    Lydia said...

    Brian~ Glad you liked and really glad you love trees, too.



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