Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

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CyrusK.
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by CyrusK. » December 17th, 2019, 2:17 pm

I did a little research into spiral grain, which I think might be related. Here's some links in case you want to check this out: https://www.conifers.org/topics/spiral_grain.php, https://pubs.cif-ifc.org/doi/pdf/10.5558/tfc33335-4.
Cyrus "Ice" K.

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BurnsideBob
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by BurnsideBob » December 18th, 2019, 11:30 am

Of the various proposed theories for the Argyle pattern, the one that makes most sense to me is it's a response to wind load. I found my 2014 photos of the Elk Meadows Trail Argyle tree, and a number of them support the wind idea.


The first photograph shows the tree as you approach it climbing up the Elk Meadows Trail. This is the west side of the tree and is the side impacted by heavy storm winds.
IMG_8398.JPG
Argyle Tree as seen from West side.

The cross hatching is unusual. Did it run with or across the grain? This photo shows check lines in the trunk, which run with the grain, and demonstrate that the cross hatching is diagonal across the grain.
IMG_8400.JPG
Checking shows grain runs parallel to trunk.
And what species of tree was this? Can the bark give us a clue? Unfortunately, I didn't take a bark photo face on to show its pattern, something that might help identify the species. Perhaps someone has a bark photo?
IMG_8402.JPG
Some bark remains.
The last photo shows the north side of the tree. The cross hatching becomes less prominent moving around the trunk from the windward side (right in photo) to the downwind side (left in photo). The remaining bark, at left, appears thin, and to indicate the down wind (east) side of the tree lived for sometime after the north, west, and south sides died. The bark's thinness suggests the tree was not a Douglas Fir or Ponderosa Pine, which would have thicker bark than this on a tree this size.


I previously posted photos of a Ponderosa Pine near Suttle Lake that has the Argyle pattern. The photographed side of the tree is the storm wind side of the tree and the visible checks indicate nearly straight vertical grain, like the Elk Meadows tree.

The argyle pattern reminds me of wooden oil derricks, which are built with diagonal cross bracing to withstand wind and other lateral loads. Here is a photo of a replica derrick under construction at a museum.
westkern_museum_derrick2.jpg
Wooden oil derrick under construction.

This photo was lifted from: http://www.sjvgeology.org/old_stuff/derricks.html. Many thanks.



These photos may support the idea that the argyle pattern is a response by straight grained trees to wind load. And there may be ways to test this idea in the field. "Ice" mentions that the trees in fire scars are shedding their bark, which may allow us to investigate.

Do large trees with straight grain--the ones growing above the forest canopy--and particularly the big ones on ridge tops, show the argyle pattern with consistency?

Do Argyle trees show less cross hatching on the downwind side?

Do all Argyle trees have vertical grain?

Do wind sheltered trees show the Argyle pattern?



Here's hoping you are keeping warm by the fire, ;)

Burnside
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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CyrusK.
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by CyrusK. » December 18th, 2019, 12:12 pm

I noticed that the even though the grain was straight, it curved slightly sideways around the raised argyle patterns. Maybe the warped grain caused the raised ridges in the trunk?

Also, I think we can actually test this, we just need to find and keep track of more argyle trees. Bluegrass Ridge might be a good place to look.
Last edited by CyrusK. on December 18th, 2019, 12:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Cyrus "Ice" K.

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retired jerry
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by retired jerry » December 18th, 2019, 12:23 pm

"And there may be ways to test this idea in the field."

Maybe strip the bark off a bunch of live trees ;)

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CyrusK.
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by CyrusK. » December 18th, 2019, 12:32 pm

This was not what I was implying.
Last edited by CyrusK. on December 18th, 2019, 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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retired jerry
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by retired jerry » December 18th, 2019, 12:51 pm

I know, I was just being a wise guy :)

It must be that there are a bunch of Argyle trees out there that we can't see yet

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retired jerry
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by retired jerry » December 18th, 2019, 12:53 pm

You could examine the remaining bark on an Argyle tree and see if there's some pattern you can see on the outside of the bark

Limey
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by Limey » December 18th, 2019, 4:02 pm

We could apply for a government grant to study this. :idea:

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jime
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Re: Elk Meadows and the Argyle Tree

Post by jime » December 19th, 2019, 11:14 am

I'm guessing that the argyle patterned trees died slowly. Contrast them with the smooth stems of fire killed trees which we know died quickly.
P1120144.JPG
Vista Ridge Fire Killed Trees

Trees attacked by mistletoe, bark beetles, spruce budworm, etc, become stressed and employ a number of defenses in an attempt to survive. If unsuccessful, the tree slowly dies.

So, I'm wondering if the argyle pattern is some kind of growth response to the tree's weakened state. Maybe a theory?

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