Conifer IDs

The purpose of this forum is to help people identify things they've seen while out hiking: wildflowers, trees, birds, insects, small animals, animal tracks, even geographical features like buttes or streams
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bobcat
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Location: SW Portland

Re: Tree bark

Post by bobcat » November 1st, 2019, 4:38 pm

O.K. with an hour to spare in happy retirement, here is bobcat's guide to bark (mature trees only) after trawling through my photos. Conifers, and then a few random others. Sorry, I don't have a distinctive one for subalpine fir, which could well be Bosterson's second photo if it were above 5,000 feet or so.

Luckily, in the PNW we have scarcity of tree species due to our volcanic heritage, so the learning curve is rather shallow (except for willows). Takes a long while for new species to diverge and establish, and the scorching of the lands 17.5 - 15 million years ago, plus our proximity to the great North American ice sheet, other interruptions (Bretz Floods, Mt. Mazama, Great Cascadia 'Quakes, etc.) have retarded the development of speciation unlike, say, in more ancient landscapes like the southern Appalachians which have way more diversity than we do.

(Click on photo for enlargement)


Conifers:


Western hemlock:
Western hemlock bark.jpg
Mountain hemlock:
Mountain hemlock bark, Badger Lake Basin.jpg
Douglas-fir:
Douglas-fir above Archer Creek, Archer Mountain.jpg
Grand fir:
Grand fir bark, Noble Woods Park, Hillsboro.jpg
Noble fir:
Trail sign on large noble fir, Blue Box Trail.jpg
Silver fir:
Silver fir sign, Cultus Creek junction, Pacific Crest Trail, Indian Heaven Wilderness.jpg
Engelmann spruce:
Engelmann spruce bark.jpg
Brewer's spruce:
Brewers spruce bark, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Western larch:
John and larch, Fret Creek.jpg
Lodgepole pine:
Lodgepole pines, Pacific Crest Trail.jpg
Shore pine:
Shore pine.JPG
Western white pine:
Western white pine.JPG
Whitebark pine:
Whitebark pine bark, Garfield Peak.jpg
Pacific ponderosa:
Madrones and Valley ponderosa, Spencer Butte, Ridgeline Trail.jpg
Columbia ponderosa:
Ponderosa grove, Tracy Hill.jpg
Western juniper:
Juniper descent, Little Badger Creek Trail.jpg
Alaska yellow-cedar:
Alaska yellow-cedar bark.jpg
Western red-cedar:
Cedar bark, Summerlake Park.jpg
Incense cedar:
Incense cedar conk (Tyromyces amarus), Bolt Mountain Trail.jpg
Port Orford cedar:
Port Orford cedars, North Creek Spur Trail, South Slough.jpg

MODIFIED conifer:


Pacific yew:
Yew bark, Alsea Falls.jpg

Angiosperms:


Red alder:
Red alder bark, Multnomah Basin.jpg
White alder:
White alder bark, Pitt, Klickitat Trail.jpg
Bitter cherry:
Bitter cherry bark, Wahkeena Trail.jpg
Pacific madrone:
Madrone bark, Outback Loop, Cathedral Hills.jpg

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adamschneider
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Re: Tree bark

Post by adamschneider » November 1st, 2019, 5:25 pm

Yup, I still don't know bark. (Except madrone.)

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Bosterson
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Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: Tree bark

Post by Bosterson » November 1st, 2019, 5:50 pm

Wow, John, I was thinking of asking for a guided Bobcat forest tour, but it seemed unlikely. But since you're retired... (Congrats by the way!)

Thanks for posting all these. I will try to match them up next time I'm outside. Interesting to see the western vs mountain hemlock bark - mountain is definitely prevalent in IH based on my trip last weekend. I'm sort of embarrassed to have so little knowledge about these trees after all these years! :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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retired jerry
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Re: Tree bark

Post by retired jerry » November 1st, 2019, 6:49 pm

yeah, congratulations, you can now avoid crowds by going during the week :)

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Bosterson
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Location: Portland

Re: Conifer IDs

Post by Bosterson » November 3rd, 2019, 8:40 pm

Ok, new crop, this time needles! These are from Table Mountain in the Gorge, so these are all from < 3500 ft. Lower down there seemed to be a lot of Doug Fir, which maybe is the result of that area having been heavily logged.

These were common on the summit, not really below. My ID is subalpine fir.

subalpine fir.jpg

And this was obviously a hemlock (they're so distinctive), but this time it's western hemlock. Good to see the difference between this and the mountain hemlock that's so common in Indian Heaven - I didn't see any mountain hemlock today.

western hemlock.jpg

I'm thinking based on the hockey stick shape, this is noble fir.

03 - Noble Fir.jpg

This is also a fir, I'm guessing, but not quite sure which - distinctive flat needles would maybe indicate grand fir, but they're so long, so maybe it's a weird growing doug fir (which makes it a non-fir, but whatever).

02.jpg

This was a young tree along an old roadbed. Not sure, maybe doug fir due to bottlebrushing? It's interesting to see the needles growing out of the "trunk" in the 2nd pic. Tree is 5-6 ft tall.

04.jpg
04-04.jpg

Now this is perplexing - I found this in the forest above the HBR talus field. The needle tips were actually sharp (you can see the point), which makes me think it's a spruce, but if so, I can't figure out which.

01.jpg

And this was at the end of the NW ridge at the powerline road - a bunch of these cones had probably been knocked off, since fir cones fall apart? The trees were in an old roadbed, maybe 20 ft tall. I probably took this because it seemed like the same tree as the "spruce" above, but now I can't remember if the needle tips were sharp (they don't look as pointed in the pic), and the cone appeared to have grown upwards (judging by the needles), like a fir. Looks like a noble fir cone based on what I'm seeing online.

01-01.jpg
Will hike off trail for fun.

justpeachy
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Re: Conifer IDs

Post by justpeachy » November 4th, 2019, 6:51 am

Cool, thanks for the bark guide, John! How did you get so knowledgeable about trees, anyway? Just a hobby? :)

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bobcat
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Location: SW Portland

Re: Conifer IDs

Post by bobcat » November 4th, 2019, 7:21 pm

Last two pictures are noble fir (tight needles, silvery blue hue). True fir (silver, noble, grand) cones sit upright and disintegrate on the branch. You only see them on the ground from windfall or if a squirrel has brought them down to dismember.

Your grand fir ID is correct. This twig got more sunlight, making the needles longer and the arrangement a little less tidy.
justpeachy wrote:
November 4th, 2019, 6:51 am
How did you get so knowledgeable about trees, anyway? Just a hobby?
Yep. Over the years took up different ID projects (trees one of the first) to keep me occupied and engaged while on the hoof (especially when hiking alone). Trial and error,etc., until it became easy to flick my eyes over the forest and recognize what had always been in front of me.

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Conifer IDs

Post by acorn woodpecker » November 4th, 2019, 7:40 pm

Wow, thanks for initiating this thread, Nat! I've wanted to get better at native tree IDs and this is a handy interactive resource. I'll have to download that app. John, your contributions to increasingly our knowledge of plants are much appreciated!

It seems the Mt Hood National Forest south of Govt Camp has the highest biodiversity of conifers in our immediate region. I'm aware of 13-14 species due to the mix of east and west side biomes overlapping.

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Bosterson
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Re: Conifer IDs

Post by Bosterson » November 4th, 2019, 7:44 pm

bobcat wrote:
November 4th, 2019, 7:21 pm
Over the years took up different ID projects (trees one of the first) to keep me occupied and engaged while on the hoof (especially when hiking alone). Trial and error,etc., until it became easy to flick my eyes over the forest and recognize what had always been in front of me.
Thanks John! (I always write these ID questions hoping you'll answer. :D ) That's exactly why I'm trying to teach myself trees - they've always been there, and for all these years I've been ignoring their subtleties.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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bobcat
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Location: SW Portland

Re: Conifer IDs

Post by bobcat » November 4th, 2019, 8:24 pm

Fifteenmile Creek Loop (n. of Badger Creek Wilderness) has the highest diversity of conifers within a couple of hours of Portland - you get western junipers there as well as all the other species.

Northernmost sugar pines are in a few spots in the Clackamas drainage; northernmost incense cedars are just south of the Badger Creek Wilderness.

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