Trees You Want to Know
Trees You Want to Know
DONALD CULROSS PEATTIE
Illustrations of the eastern trees from the classic “Sylva of North America” by Francois Andre Michaux; illustrations of western trees by Ethel Bonney Taylor.
WHITMAN PUBLISHING COMPANY
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Every American wants to have at leasta speaking acquaintance with the treesthat make up our great national heritage,the unequalled forests of North America.The camper, the tramper, the woodsman,the gardener, the motorist, and the inquisitiveschool girl and boy, all wish toknow the names, the uses, and theranges of our native trees. There aremore than 400 tree species in NorthAmerica, north of Mexico, and in sosmall a book it is impossible to includeall. Species from every section of thecountry have been selected so that thislittle book is as serviceable near SanFrancisco as near New York, in Alaskaas in Georgia, and throughout Canada.
The names of trees are confusing tolearn only because lumbermen, farmers,foresters, guides, and botanists all havedifferent names for the same tree. Again,one name, like Bull Pine or Scrub Oak,may be applied to a dozen kinds of trees,in different regions. It has been thoughtbest in most cases to use only one name,chosen from the least provincial and mostliterate sources. The Latin names arethose now used at the great ArnoldArboretum, except in a few cases thatmight confuse the beginner.
Measurements and other characterizationsof trees in the text apply to maturegrowths of the season or to trees at theheight of their life cycle, not to earlyspring condition, nor to the appearanceof saplings or ancient, decrepit trees.Particularly the shape as described appliesto trees growing in the open. Undercrowded forest conditions all trees tendto have spindling outlines. At the limitsof their ranges many trees become mereshrubs. They develop most luxuriouslynear their centers of distribution.
Shape with a pyramidal head, becoming round topped in age, 15-90 ft. tall. Barksmoothish, thin, dark gray-brown, fissured into narrow ridges. Branchesspreading, slightly pendulous. Needles flat, scattered along the twigs, the undersidesmarked with two whitish lines. Fruit olive-like or plum-like, green becomingpurple-streaked, consisting in a fleshy aril in an open pit of which isburied the nutmeg-like seed. Range: n. Coast Ranges and central Sierra Nevadaof Calif. Of tree size only near the coast, this curious tree is unlike any other inAmerica except FLORIDA YEW (Torreya floridana) a little tree, rare in nw.Fla. with dark purple flesh on the fruit. PACIFIC YEW (Taxus brevifolia) hasshort, slender, yellowish-green needles and a scarlet fleshy coat around the seed.Alaska to Mont., and Sierra Nevada.
Shape broadly round topped; 40-50 ft. tall. Trunk massive, short. Bark onyoung growth light gray, on old breaking into scales, furrowed and finally black.Branches whorled and open. Needles in clusters of five, stout, rigid, short, formingclusters at branch ends. Cones 3-4 in. long; scales thick; seeds not winged.Range Albt. to w. Tex., mts. of the Gt. Basin and up the e. slopes of the Sierras;rare on the Calif. side. WHITE BARKED PINE (Pinus albicaulis) similar, withsilvery bark, short needles, small cones, and edible seeds. Goes to the timberlinein the Rockies and Pacific Coast Ranges. SILVER PINE (Pinus monticola) resemblesthe next species but has stouter, rigid leaves without white lines. A splendidtimber tree reaching 150 ft. Mont. to Ida., s. in the Sierras to Calif.
Shape pagoda-like, up to 250 ft. tall. Bark bluish-black, smooth or in ageforming large plates. Branches whorled on young trees, horizontal. Needles clusteredin fives, soft, slender, 3-4 in. long, bluish-green with white lines. Cones oftencurved, 4-6 in. long. Range: Newf. to Gt. Lakes region and Minn., s. from theVirginias on the mts. to Ga. The wood is light, soft, even-grained and beautiful,used for interior finishing. “Soft Pine” has played a great role in our history. Inthe days of wooden battleships it made the tallest masts. Appreciated by the firstcolonists, it was wildly exploited in the last century. Railroads were bent to greatstands of it, wooden cities and mushroom fortunes arose from its exploitation andgreat fleets were built to export it. Now desolate stump lands tell the decline of an empire.
Shape with a broad, flat topped crown. Trunk up to 220 ft. tall, massive, usuallyclothed with branches to the ground. Bark smooth, dark gray on youngbranches, thick and scaly on old trunks, the plates purplish brown to cinnamon.Branches in remote regular whorls, the upper in age very elongated, bendingunder the weight of many big cones. Needles 5 in a cluster, stout, rigid, 3-4in. long, dark green. Cones very large, 12-18 in. long. Range: mts. of extreme s.Ore. along Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada of Calif. This wood is like thatof White Pine, easily worked, pale, lustrous, handsome, similarly employed.Tallest and mightiest of all pines in the world, it is famous for its stateliness. Asugary matter exudes from cuts in this tree, but it may only be safely eaten in small quantities.
Shape bushy finally broad topped, 10-40 ft. tall. Trunk slim, straggling. Bark irregularlyridged, becoming covered by light ruddy scales. Branches horizontal,crooked. Needles in clusters of 2 (rarely 3) stout, rigid, ¾-1½ in. long. Conesonly ½-¾ in. long, with thick scale-ends, yellowish-green, lustrous. Range:Foothills of the Rockies from Colo. to w. Tex. and through interior desert statesto Mex. The sweet edible seeds are an article of commerce in Mexico and theWest. A precious fuel in the desert states, wood of this scrubby tree gives off afragrant smoke that is characteristic of the southwestern towns and Indian villages.ONE NEEDLE PINE (Pinus monophylla). Needles solitary, blue-green.Cone brown. A little tree. Calif. to Ariz. and Colo. NUT PINE (Pinus Parryana)Needles 4 in a cluster, blue-green, in-curved, 1½-2 in. long. Cone brown. Seedsedible. Centr. and s. Calif.
Shape broadly pyramidal in youth, broad topped in age; up to 150 ft. tall. Trunk2-5 ft. thick. Bark gray, shallowly fissured into broad flat ridges, loosely scaly.Branches stout, spreading, often drooping, but twigs generally ascending. Needlesin clusters of 2, rigid, stout, triangular, dark, glossy, 5-6 in. long. Conesthin scaled, 2-6 in. long. Range: e. Can. N.E., N.Y., n. Gt. Lakes region, w. Pa.The strong, ruddy wood is greatly in demand for bridges and buildings. Mastsand spars made from it went round the world in the old clipper ships. Often erroneouslycalled “Norway Pine” (a name also given to a European spruce) this iswhat the old lumberjacks of the North Woods meant by “Hard Pine.” Thisstately, colorful pine is one of the most picturesque of our trees.
WESTERN YELLOW PINE
Shape spire-like, round topped, up to 200 ft. tall. Trunk massive. Bark ruddy,round ridged, scaly in age, with huge plates. Branches short, thick, forked, oftendrooping. Needles in clusters of 3, densely crowded at branch tips, dark yellow-green.Cones densely clustered, oval-oblong, lustrous, ruddy, sometimes hook-scaled.Range B.C. to Ore. and s. in the Sierra Nevada to Calif. ROCKY MT.YELLOW PINE (Pinus scopulorum) differs in little except its shorter stature(not over 75 ft.), shorter needles, often in clusters of 2, blackish bark, and smaller,stouter cones. Black Hills and Big Horn Mts., high lands of w. Neb., andRockies from Wyo. to N. Mex. Both are among the most important timber treesof the West. Lumbermen recognize many varieties of their woods. JEFFREY’SPINE (Pinus Jeffreyi) is similar, symmetrical, with long bluish green needles;twigs bloomy. Ore. to s. Calif.
SOUTHERN YELLOW PINE
Shape oblong, 50-100 ft. tall. Trunk ponderous, often clean and branchlesshigh up. Bark deep ruddy brown, broken in age into broad armor-like plates builtup of flaky scales. Needles 3-6 in. long in clusters of 2, deep olive green, slender.Cones very small. Range: Staten Island to s. Ga., and centr. Miss., not on thes. coast plain or in high Appalachians or bottom lands of Mississippi valley. Againin Ark., sw. Mo., ne. Tex., sw. Ill., Ky. and Tenn. Lumbermen recognize twovarieties of this important tree, the upland wood which is hard and heavy, muchvalued for interior finish, and a weak, fast-growing type from lowlands. BLACKPINE (Pinus rigida) has dark needles in threes, 3-4½ in. long, and cones 2-2½in. long, ranging from Me. to n. Ga. and w. Tenn.; this is a picturesque, short,dark, contorted tree without much timber value.
Shape high branched, broad crowned; upto 150 ft. tall. Bark rough, gray-brown,or ruddy, separating in big, long scales.Branches wide spreading, at maturityconfined to top of stem. Needles slender,rigid, lustrous light green, 3 or 4 in acluster, 6 in. long. Cones large with thickbristly scales. Range: Del. to n. Fla.,rarely reaching the Appalachians exceptin the Virginias: along the Gulf to e.Tex., n. in Mississippi Basin to Tenn.The wood is soft, coarse grained andbrittle in the case of second-growth trees.Formerly virgin Loblolly timber (nowrare) was among the strongest and mostdurable of American pine woods. Theman-of-war “Roanoke” carried an immensemast cut from N. C. Loblolly thathad 302 annual rings; this tree regularlyfurnished the best naval constructionmaterial.
LONG LEAF PINE
Shape spindling, a little broader at thecrown, 50-100 ft. tall. Bark smooth, thin,with red-brown plates. Branches short,horizontal, scaly. Needles in threes, 10-15in. long, gleaming and beautiful. Cones6-10 in. long. Range: Norfolk Va. alongthe coast to centr. Fla.; far inland in theGulf States, up to e. Tenn. The wood,strong and durable when not tapped forturpentine, is used for interior finish,bridges, trestles, masts, spars and especiallyfor railway carriages. This valuabletree, with the longest needles and largestcones in the eastern states, is the greattar, pitch, and turpentine tree that hassupplied the world with most of its navalstores. With the vanishing of virgintimber, the flow of turpentine has becomegreatly diminished. SLASH PINE(Pinus caribaea) is a similar, very slenderspindly tree with small high crown,which forms monotonous open groovesfrom S. C. to Fla. and Cuba.
Shape if well developed broad topped,but usually stunted and scraggling; 15-100ft. tall. Trunk slim, often contorted.Bark ruddy brown, gray and shaggy withage, forming irregular ridges. Brancheswide spreading, their twigs often droopingand ruddy. Needles scrubby, rigid,twisted. Cones 1-2 in. long, remainingclosed and grayish for years, finallybrown, 1-2 in. long. Range: N.S. to L.Mistassinie and the Mackenzie R., skirtingwell south of James’ Bay; Gt. Lakesregion to centr. Minn. Though of littlevalue save for fuel, this tree grows inacid, rocky country where no other treewould. Everywhere associated with poorsoil, poverty, and bleak conditions, it iscalled “Unlucky Tree” and superstitiouslyfeared by French Canadians. Theold lumberjacks of the North Woodsdesignated this contemptuously as “scrubpine.”
BIG CONE PINE
Shape broad spreading at the top; 40-90ft. tall. Bark dark, with braided fissures.Branches clothing stem near to base,lower extended. Needles pale, 3 in acluster, 5-14 in. long, very scant.