Primarily found in watersheds and along streams, these short lived, fast growing trees are abundant seed producers. Male and female flowers bloom in separate catkins on different trees in spring before the leaves appear. The cotton-haired seeds, produced in small capsules, are wind dispersed. Because of the mess caused by the mass of “cotton” produced in early summer, this tree is prohibited in some cities
A tall tree up to 30 meters with a broad, open crown and a short trunk 1 meter or more in diameter, Fremont cottonwood is distinguishable by its broad, triangular leaves with their very coarse, rounded teeth and long, flattened stalks. The bark is thick, rough and splitting, light gray or brownish or whitish and smooth on young trunks and the branches are stout and spreading.
Yucca is a plant familiar to most Americans who have traveled or lived in the U.S. Southwest or Mexico, where it grows abundantly. A member of the lily family, the plant is also known by the names soap root, Spanish bayonet, Spanish dagger and others.
Pines and Firs
Bristlecone Pine: Bristlecones don’t grow very tall, 60 ft. (18.3m) at the most, but usually much less. Girth of the largest one, the Patriarch is 36′ 8″ (11.2m), and this tree is relatively young at 1,500 years. The average age is about 1,000 years with only a few over 4,000 years. The oldest trees grow on outcrops of dolomite an alkaline calcareous substrate of low nutrient but of higher moisture content than the surrounding sandstone.
Douglas Fir: The two varieties of Douglas-fir occur in quite different ecosystems. The Interior variety grows in a variety of habitats including open forests with pinegrass and mosses beneath. On the coast, the forests are much more productive. Douglas-fir can grow with western redcedar, hemlock, and grand fir, with a lush layer of salal, huckleberries, Oregon-grape, and sword fern beneath. Many animals eat Douglas-fir seeds, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, shrews, winter wrens, and crossbills. Bears often scrape off the bark on young trees and eat the sap layer beneath.
The Pinon Pine is native to the desert southwest’s higher elevations, from 4,000 to 7,000 feet. You will find this tree growing above rocky arroyos in the mountain foothills. This pine is very hardy though, and can tolerate extreme cold and heat, as well as the strong winds. It grows up to 6″ a year, and reaches a mature size of 30′ tall and 20′ feet wide.
Also know as the Blackjack or Western Yellow Pine, this evergreen was first reported by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Twenty-two years later it was named by the famous Scottish Botanist, David Douglas, for its heavy or “ponderous” wood. The Ponderosa was mistaken for two different trees due to the differences between the younger and older of its kind. For the first 80-100 years, the bark of the Ponderosa is smooth and a dark brown-black, leading to the name Blackjack Pine. Later, the bark of the older tree is an orange-brown color with deep ridges.