Thank you again to Douglas Justice for both today’s photograph and accompanying written entry. – Daniel.
Today’s photo was taken at the Botanical Garden, but the tree from which the cone was taken grows some distance away on the UBC campus. John Worrall, whose thumb and forefinger can be seen in the photo, planted a seedling tree grown from seed he collected in the wild in California approximately 25 years ago. Worrall, Professor Emeritus of Forestry, is well known as a dendrologist and fierce tree advocate, and equally, for his guerrilla tree plantings around UBC.
Known as the bristlecone or Santa Lucia fir (it is found in the Santa Lucia Mountains), the campus tree is now close to 15m tall and is coning for the first time. Most authorities place this species in its own group (some place it in its own subgenus — Pseudotorreya), based upon its unique, long, sharp-pointed buds and needles, and extraordinary cone bracts. These stiffly curving squirrel guards extend 5 or 6 cm from the cone and are each supplied with a sticky gob of resin. Although this beautiful conifer has an extremely restricted range, its conservation status was assessed as a “lower risk” Lr/cd (lower risk, conservation dependent) on the IUCN Red List (version 2.3, 1994).
Abies species are often difficult subjects in gardens, most preferring deep soils and the cool conditions of mountain slopes. However, western North American, Pacific Slope conifers are adapted to relatively dry summer conditions, and the Californian species to an especially long, hot, dry summer regime. This specimen has probably done as well as it has because it’s planted against a large brick building, facing south and out of the reach of irrigation.