Puslapio vaizdai


attention to the admirable adaptation of the tree to the fire-swept regions where alone it is found. After a grove has been destroyed, the ground is at once sown lavishly with all the seeds ripened during its whole life, and which seem to have been carefully held in store with reference to such a calamity. Then a young grove immediately springs up out of the ashes-beauty for ashes.


(Pinus Lambertiana.)

THIS is the noblest pine ever yet discovered in the forests of the world, surpassing

all others, not merely in size but also in kingly beauty and majesty.

It towers sublimely from every ridge and cañon of the range, at an elevation of from three to seven thousand feet above the sea,


attaining most perfect development at a height of about five thousand feet.

Full-grown specimens are commonly about two hundred and twenty feet high, and from six to eight feet in diameter near the ground, though some grand old patriarch is occasionally met that has enjoyed five or six centuries of storms, and attained a thickness of ten or even twelve feet, living on-undecayed, sweet, and fresh in every fiber.

The trunk is a smooth, round, delicately tapered shaft, mostly without limbs, and colored rich purplish brown, usually enlivened with tufts of yellow lichen. At the top of this magnificent bole, long, curving branches sweep gracefully outward and downward, sometimes forming a palm-like crown, but far more nobly impressive than any palm crown I ever beheld. The needles are about three inches long, finely tempered, and arranged in rather close tassels at the ends of slender branchlets that clothe the

long, outsweeping limbs. How well they sing in the wind, and how strikingly harmonious an effect is made by the immense cylindrical cones that depend loosely from the ends of the main branches! No one knows what Nature can do in the way of pine-burs until he has seen those of the sugar-pine. They are commonly from fifteen to eighteen inches long, and three in diameter; green, shaded with dark purple on their sunward sides. They are ripe in September and October. Then the flat scales open and the seeds take wing, but the empty cones become still more beautiful and effective, for their diameter is nearly doubled by the spreading of the scales, and their color changes to a warm yellowishbrown; while they remain swinging on the tree all the following winter and summer, and continue very effectively beautiful even on the ground many years after they fall. The wood is deliciously fragrant, and fine in grain and texture; it is of a rich cream-yellow, as if formed of condensed sunbeams. Retinospora obtusa, Siebold, the glory of Eastern forests, is called "Fu-si-no-ki" (tree of the sun) by the Japanese; the sugar-pine is the sun-tree of the Sierra. Unfortunately it is greatly prized by the lumbermen, and, in accessible places,

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is always the first tree in the woods to feel their steel. But the regular lumbermen, with their saw-mills, have been less generally destructive thus far than the shinglemakers. The wood splits freely, and there is a constant demand for the shingles. And because an ax, and saw, and frow is all the capital required for the business, many of that drifting, unsteady class of men so large in California engage in it for a few months in the year. When prospectors, hunters, ranch hands, etc., touch their "bottom dollar" and find themselves out of

employment, they say, "Well, I can at least go to the sugar-pines and make shingles." A few posts are set in the ground, and a single length cut from the first tree felled, produces boards enough for the walls and roof of a cabin; all the rest he makes is for sale, and he is speedily independent. No gardener or hay-maker is more sweetly perfumed than these rough mountaineers while engaged in this business, but the havoc they make is most deplorable.

The sugar, from which the common name is derived, is to my taste the best of sweets -better than maple-sugar. It exudes from the heart-wood, where wounds have been made, either by forest fires or the ax, in the shape of irregular, crisp, candy-like kernels, which are crowded together in masses of considerable size, like clusters of resinbeads. When fresh, it is perfectly white and delicious, but, because most of the wounds on which it is found have been made by fire, the exuding sap is stained on the charred surface, and the hardened sugar becomes brown.


Indians are fond of it, but on account of its laxative properties only small quantities may be eaten. Bears, so fond of sweet things in general, seem never to taste it; at least I have failed to find any trace of their teeth in this connection.

No lover of trees will ever forget his first meeting with the sugar-pine. In most pine trees there is a sameness of expression, which, to most people, is apt to become monotonous; for the typical spiry form, however beautiful, affords but little scope for appreciable individual character. The sugar-pine is as free from conventionalities of form and motion as any oak. No two are alike, even to the most inattentive observer; and, notwithstanding they are ever tossing out their immense arms in what might seem most extravagant gestures, there is a majesty and repose about them that precludes all possibility of the grotesque, or even picturesque, in their general expression. The main branches are sometimes found to be forty feet in length, yet persistently simple, seldom dividing at all, excepting near the end; but anything like a bare cable appearance is prevented by the small, tasseled branchlets that extend all around them; and when these superb limbs sweep out symmetrically on all sides, a crown, sixty or seventy feet wide, is formed, which, gracefully poised on the summit of the noble shaft, and filled with sunshine, is one of the most glorious forest objects conceivable.

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Commonly, however, there is a great preponderance of limbs toward the east, away from the direction of the prevailing winds.


No other pine seems to me so unfamiliar and self-contained. In approaching it, we feel as if in the presence of a superior being, and begin to walk with a light step, holding our breath. Then, perchance, while we gaze awe-stricken, along comes a merry squirrel, chattering and laughing, to break the spell, running up the trunk with no ceremony, and gnawing off the cones as if they were made only for him; while the carpenter-woodpecker hammers away at the bark, drilling holes in which to store his winter supply of acorns.

Although so wild and unconventional when full-grown, the sugar-pine is a remarkably proper tree in youth. The old is the most original and independent in appearance of all the Sierra evergreens; the young is the most regular,-a strict follower of coniferous fashions,-slim, erect, with leafy, supple branches kept exactly in place, each tapering in outline and terminating in a sharp, spiry point. The successive transitional forms presented between the cautious neatness of youth and bold freedom of maturity offer a delightful study. At the age of fifty or sixty years, the shy, fashionable form begins to be broken up. Specialized branches push out in the most unthought-of places, and bend with the great cones, at once marking individual character, which, being constantly augmented from year to


year by the varying action of the sunlight, winds, snow-storms, etc., the tree is never again lost in the general forest.

The most constant companion of this species is the yellow-pine, and a worthy companion it is. The Douglas spruce, libocedrus, sequoia, and the white silver-fir

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are also more or less associated with it; but on many deep-soiled mountain-sides, at an elevation of about five thousand feet above the sea, it forms the bulk of the forest. The majestic crowns, approaching each other in bold curves, make a glorious canopy through which the tempered sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the massive boles and flowery, park-like ground into a scene of enchantment.

On the most sunny slopes the whiteflowered fragrant chamoebatia is spread like a carpet, brightened during early summer with the crimson sarcodes, wild rose, and innumerable violets and gilias. Not even in the shadiest nooks will you find any rank, untidy weeds or unwholesome darkness. On the north sides of ridges the boles are more slender, and the ground is mostly occupied by an underbrush of hazel, ceanothus, and flowering dogwood, but never so densely as to prevent the traveler from sauntering where he will; while the crowning branches are never impenetrable to the rays of the sun, and never so interblended as to lose their individuality.

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(Pinus ponderosa.)

THE silver or yellow pine, as it is commonly called, ranks second among the pines of the Sierra as a lumber tree, and almost rivals King Lambertiana in stature and nobleness of port. Because of its superior powers of enduring variations of climate and soil, it has a more extensive range than any other conifer growing on the Sierra. On the western slope it is first met at an elevation of about two thousand feet, and extends nearly to the upper limit of the timber line. Thence, crossing the range by the lowest passes, it descends to the eastern base, and pushes out for a considerable distance into the hot volcanic plains, growing bravely upon well-watered moraines, gravelly lake-basins, arctic ridges, and torrid lava-beds; planting itself upon the lips of craters, flourishing vigorously even there, and tossing ripe cones among the ashes and cinders.

The average size of full-grown trees on the western slope, where it is associated

with the sugar-pine, is a little less than two hundred feet in height and from five to six feet in diameter-though specimens may easily be found that are considerably larger. I measured one, growing at an elevation of four thousand feet in the valley of the Merced, that is a few inches over eight feet in diameter, and two hundred and twenty feet high.

Where there is plenty of free sunshine

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and other conditions are favorable, it presents a striking contrast in form to the sugar-pine, being a being a symmetrical spire, formed of a straight round trunk, clad with innumerable branches that are divided over and over again. About one-half of the trunk is commonly branchless, but where it grows at all close, three-fourths or more become naked; the tree presenting then a

more slender and elegant shaft than any other tree in the woods. The bark is mostly arranged in massive plates, some of them measuring four or five feet in length by eighteen inches in width, with a thickness of three or four inches, forming a quite marked and distinguishing feature. The needles are of a fine, warm, yellow-green color, six to eight inches long, firm and elastic, and crowded in handsome, radiant tassels on the upturning ends of the branches. The cones are about three or four inches long, and two and a half wide, growing in close, sessile clusters among the leaves.


The species attains its noblest form in filled-up lake-basins, especially in those of the older Yosemites, and so prominent a part does it form of their groves that it may well be called the Yosemite pine. Ripe specimens favorably situated are almost always two hundred feet or more in height, and the branches clothe the trunk nearly to the ground, as seen in the illustration.

The Jeffrey variety attains its finest development in the northern portion of the range, in the wide fountain basins of the McCloud and Pitt rivers, where it forms magnificent forests scarce at all invaded by any other tree. It differs from the ordinary form in size, being only about half as tall, and in its redder and more closely furrowed bark, grayish-green foliage, less divided branches, and larger cones; but intermediate forms come in which make a clear separation impossible, although some botanists regard it as a distinct species. It is this variety that climbs storm-swept ridges and wanders out among the volcanoes of the Great Basin. Whether exposed to extremes of heat or cold, it is dwarfed like every other tree, and becomes all knots and angles, wholly unlike the majestic forms we have been sketching. Old specimens, bearing cones about as big as pine-apples, may sometimes be found clinging to rifted rocks at an elevation of seven or eight thousand feet, whose highest branches scarce reach above one's shoulders.

I have oftentimes feasted on the beauty of these noble trees when they were towering in all their winter grandeur, laden with snowone mass of bloom; in summer, too, when the brown, staminate clusters hang thick among the shimmering needles, and the big purple burs are ripening in the mellow light; but it is during cloudless wind-storms that these colossal pines are most impressively beautiful. Then they bow like wil


lows, their leaves streaming forward all in one direction, and, when the sun shines upon them at the required angle, entire groves glow as if every leaf were burnished silver. The fall of tropic light on the royal crown of a palm is a truly glorious spectacle. The fervid sun-flood breaks upon the glossy leaves in long lance rays, like mountain water among bowlders. But to me there is something more impressive in the fall of light upon these silver-pines. It seems beaten to the finest dust, and is shed off in myriads of minute sparkles that seem to come from the very heart of the trees-as if, like rain falling upon fertile soil, it had

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