Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm catching up.

There's been a break in the rain and snow this afternoon, so we took a walk.  The mosses, ferns and lichens were bright green having quickly resurrected from their dehydrated state of only a few days ago.  A good photo op in my driveway for showing the differences between Douglas-fir and White Fir.  In the top photo you can see how the lower branches of Douglas-fir tend to droop, while those of White Fir (fourth photo from top) tend to stick out horizontally from the trunk.  Also, while Douglas-fir needles tend to grow out from the bark all the way around each twig, the White Fir needles tend to grow out sideways producing a flat, fern-like look (4th photo from top).  On closer inspection, you will see that each White Fir needle tends to have a 1/4 to 1/2 turn twist at the base where it attaches to the twig.  No so with Douglas-fir needles.  Finally, the cones are quite different.  I saw lots of Douglas-fir cones on the ground, still intact (third photo from top), but White Fir cones tend to explode into a pile of individual scales when they hit the ground or get torn apart immediately by squirrels seeking the seeds.  Thus, I saw no intact White Fir cones today.  Douglas-fir cones tend to hang downward from their attachment points on the branches, while White Fir cones are cylindrical and tend to grow upright from the branches like traditional Christmas tree candles.  Finally, another treat on today's walk were the lichens.  They suddenly look lush and colorful after having gotten rather dry over the past month or two.  The bottom photo here shows a nice patch of fruticose lichens growing on a tree stump at the foot of my driveway.  This whetted my appetite for a trip down the Feather River Canyon where the mosses and lichens are probably entering their peak season of lush greenness.  The area where Rock Creek enters the Feather River is especially great for viewing mosses, ferns and lichens.  Also, the stretch on the south side of the highway where great slabs of exfoliating granite hang over the highway.  In the canyon, it is always best to find a turnout and get out and walk, or you might get rear-ended by someone trying to get through the canyon too fast.  I called this post "catching up" because I'm catching up to my self-imposed quota of a post per day.

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