Conifers Around the World

Feliratkozás Conifers Around the World hírcsatorna csatornájára
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Abies equi-trojani - Trojan Fir

sze, 01/02/2019 - 09:00

On our first visit to the homeland of Abies equi-trojani (in the autumn of 1980) we were accompanied by local forestry colleagues to the site where people were busy with seed harvest – collecting cones of the fir. Luckily enough, when we stopped at one place near the mixed stands of fir, beech and black pine, we met workers who had a cart full of freshly gathered cones!

The variation was amazing in size (8 to 17 cm) and color (pale green to almost reddish-brown) of the cones. – Many years have passed and it was a long desire to re-visit the type locality, Kaz Daği/Ida Mountains (Karatas hill, 1774 m) near the city of Edremit, to refresh our observations of the species and take new (digital) photographs of the site and the vegetation. This could take place in late April 2010 as part of a longer journey in Turkey.

With excellent organization by Kathy Musial, to approach Kaz Daği we stayed at first in Yesilyurt, in a nice guest house 'Erguvanly' where our host arranged the entry permit and guidance to the park. To appreciate the uniqueness of the mountain in preserving regional biodiversity, including its flora of 800+ species, Kaz Daği Forest National Park was declared in 1994. Some roads are now running rather close to the best stand of Abies equi-trojani. By the time we reach the forest the clouds come and we get a nice shower… Yet we can take a good series of photos, some of them presented below. (Also, an opening page pair of Conifers Around the World in volume 1 shows the beautiful intact forest of the Trojan Fir).

Abies is dominant between 1300 and 1500 m in a north running valley bordered by steep slopes. Some of the firs are as high as 30 m with trunk diameters of 70-80 cm at b.h. Mingled with the fir is Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana is, and a few scattered Juniperus communis var. saxatilis can be found in more open rocky sites. Some individuals of Carpinus betulusPopulus tremulaSorbus aucuparia are also noticed.

– As leaving this place towards the more open slopes, the black pine becomes more dominant forming beautiful old-growth stands with magnificent trees of 30 m or more at some sites; otherwise this pine almost reaches the windswept summit forming low patches or seen as small scattered individuals. (Speaking of pines, as we go down, Pinus brutiaappears at around 800 m and becomes common with a rich variety of oaks – we note Quercus frainettomacrolepispubescens and cf. petraea, but the mountain has other species as well.)


Cathaya argyrophylla - Yinshan

sze, 12/26/2018 - 09:00

The story of the discovery, natural history and taxonomy of this remarkable plant has been described many ways, many times; one of the latest is an article and two associated reports in a 2009 issue of Arnoldia published by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. (By typing in the key words 'Arnoldia' and 'Cathaya', the article readily comes up on the web). 

Cathaya was found in 1955 in northern Guangxi, in a mountainous area which later became Huaping Nature Reserve. What makes this place so special for our team, is the fact that – according to the local guides who accompanied us to the site with a small grove of mature Cathayas – our team of Zsolt Debreczy, Gyöngyvér Biró and István Rácz was the first foreign group that received permit to enter the reserve. It happened with a special permit from several authorities, arranged through the Botanical Garden, Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica (as they then called the Chinese Academy of Sciences). From Beijing, Zhao Yinghao was our expedition leader. On that day, April 23, 1995 we could take a series of photographs of the trees and their associated plants.

Of conifers at around 1360 m, on the granitic outcrops the most prominent tree was Pinus kwangtungensis and besides Cathaya, only a few small trees of Fokienia hodginsii were found. Cunninghamia lanceolataoccurred on the lower slopes in seminatural environment. At another occasion, on September 24, 1998 we were led by our expedition leader Dr. Xiang Qiaoping, a researcher at the National Herbarium in Beijing, to Xinning, southern Hunan Province, to the "Cathaya Farm" (part of the Xinning Forestry Research Institute). In the nursery area we were shown around by Professor Luo Zhongchun, pictured below with two of his coworkers among young potted trees of Cathaya.

Professor Luo was a key person in the early efforts of comprehensive ecological studies and propagation of the plant. In 1998 he was leading us to the nearby habitat of Abies ziyuanensis. The photographs here show details of Cathaya, i.e., young bark and trunk of a mature tree, cones (courtesy of Dr. Qin Haining, PE), foliage, and branchlets. The species is featured in Conifers Around the World on page 319.


Cedrus libani subsp. libani - Cedar of Lebanon

sze, 12/19/2018 - 09:00
Pilgrimage to the cedars of Lebanon October 2010
For many years I wished to see the cedars of Lebanon… In my garden in Tokaj, Hungary, I have a very nice grove of Lebanon cedars now over 20 years old, grown from seed received from Turkey.
  Today they form a perfect stand recently producing good quantities of seed and lots of shade. But I was eager to see the "true" cedars which required a flight to either Beirut or Damascus. Together with family members we chose the latter way and were not disappointed.   The city of Damascus was a peaceful and friendly place, where we hired a cab to make the trip to Lebanon. It all went very smooth, via the Bekaa valley and then to Beirut from where we ascended the mountains to end up in one of the El Chouf cedar groves at 1800-1900 m.   At last we were under the cedars, with trails criss-crossing the area (in one of the pictures with my daughters, Noémi and Diana). Some of the trees are in a sadly poor state with many of their limbs cut but one could see that caring hands do all they can do to save the lives of the old cedars... Some dead trees have been converted into artistically carved skeletons, or peculiar sculptures. Interestingly, the area we visited, had only very old or quite young trees of cedar; certainly, there was a time, decades ago, when only a few remaining groves and old trees were all that left of the species in these mountains, and the thousands of young trees we see around here are signs of a recent reforestation effort.   Most trees (to my surprise) were of somewhat silvery green or blue, with the colour changing between blue, gray and deep green, with a sheen of silver, depending on the angle of light. It was a memorable day, with the extra gift that upon return, I shared the photos with Zsolt and István and one was included in this major conifer book!   István Liptai Tokaj, Hungary

Cupressus sempervirens - Mediterranean Cypress

sze, 12/12/2018 - 09:00

Wild populations of this well-known cypress are not commonly seen. One has to travel to Crete or a few other Aegean islands, or certain places in Turkey, to mention some better known locations. When we were on our 2010 trip to Turkey and made a brief detour to enter Dilek Peninsula, we did not expect to see it.

Yet the detour was a really worthy one! Beautiful specimens of the cypress were right there in the inaccessible steep slopes of a canyon cutting into the small mountain range (called Samsun) that occupies the middle of the peninsula.

The Dilek Yarimadasi Büyük Menderes Deltasi Milli Parki (est. 1966 as a national park with a later addition of the river delta area) is known for its unique composition of flora and fauna, not just on the 10+ km2 hilly or mountainous area of the park (with the highest point, Mykale, 1237 m), but also the delta and the coastal (marine) areas.

About 900 vascular plants are native to this rather small peninsula; reportedly, this is the only place where Quercus aucheri and Juniperus phoenicea occur together in the same vegetation. – Cupressus is the most striking plant of the canyon vegetation. Some of the trees are two- or three stemmed, or even completely irregularly branched from the bottom, others are monopodial, with crowns quite compact and narrow-conical, or the lateral branches variously irregular.

The canyon vegetation is a mixture of mediterranean as well as temperate elements (with trees and shrubs typically confined to the frost-free Mediterranean coasts, associated with others native to areas far to the north). Anyone interested in the flora and vegetation of this part of western Asia, will be delighted to marvel at the beauty and botanical richness of this place, as well as the many blue shades of the Aegean Sea, with the island of Samos (Greece) only 2 kilometres away from here.

Juniperus drupacea - Syrian Juniper

sze, 12/05/2018 - 09:00
Despite its name, most populations of this distinctive juniper are found in southern Asia Minor (Turkey) and only smaller stands or scattered individuals in Lebanon and Syria. One outlying population is also present in Europe – on southern (mainland) Greece, very briefly discussed below.   Botanically, Juniperus drupacea is so special that formerly it was treated in a separate genus (Arceuthos) and currently kept in its own section of juniper (Caryocedrus).   It is a robust plant among other junipers, having the widest needles and largest cones in the genus (with seeds united in a drupe), and with a unique appearance of pollen cones developing in fascicles of 3–6. To meet this plant in the wild is a treat for a botanical explorer.   At first we had the chance to see it in the western Toros mountains (October 1980), and noticed that in some cases the showy cones almost covered the red-brown ground under the small trees. 30 years later we documented the species at a different location in the same mountain range; the photos below marked with "Toros 2010/DAP" are from this trip.   The following notes are from our colleague Kálmán Huber (Pécs, Hungary), who worked with us on Conifers Around the World and recently visited the location of this plant in the Parnon mountains in Arkadhia (Peloponnesos Peninsula). In the lower ranges of the Parnon the vegetation is typically mediterranean maquis dominated by evergreen shrubs. Higher up, from about 800 m a.s.l., conifers take over, including Abies cephalonica and Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana, with evergreen oaks in the shrub layers. Locally, around 900 m, especially near Malevis Monastery, Juniperus drupacea is a dominant element with many trees reaching 10 m in height and trunk diameters up to 70 cm. Photographs from this location by Kálmán are marked "Parnon, H.K."