Pining Away

Every year at BioBlitz, National Geographic and the U.S. National Park Service rally to get people young and old to explore the wild spaces around them during a whirlwind 24-hour search to identify every species they can find. In advance of our next event in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, March 28-29, 2014, we’re already exploring stories of the life and lands of northern California. Learn More and Sign Up for BioBlitz 2014!!!

In this installment, National Geographic’s Caryl Sue offers a short history (it’s a sonnet!) of Pinus radiata, the Monterey pine. Monterey pines are considered an invasive species these days in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but their (metaphorical) roots on the San Francisco Peninsula go pretty deep—before it was a peninsula!

This beautiful stand of Monterey pines thrives in its native habitat along the chaparral woodland of Point Lobos State Reserve, California. Outside isolated pockets of California's Central Coast, Monterey pines have been cultivated for lumber. They are such fast-growing trees they are often considered invasive species. Photograph by David Baron, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

This beautiful stand of Monterey pines thrives in its native habitat along the chaparral woodland of Point Lobos State Reserve, California. Outside isolated pockets of California’s Central Coast, Monterey pines have been cultivated for lumber. They are such fast-growing trees they are often considered invasive species.
Photograph by David Baron, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The weird story of Monterey pine trees
starts with a land now found far out to sea—
west of the famous San Andreas fault,
an ancient block of granite and basalt.
Salinia just sank beneath the waves,
whole ecosystems taken to their graves.
The trees are remnants of this vanished land,
though still endangered in their native stands.
These conifers have cones that burst in heat
(a trait botanists call serotiny).
Theses strange, old pines do not stand ramrod straight,
they swoop and knot just like the Golden Gate.
Most popular for lumber, all agree—
they are one of our favorite Christmas trees.

Learn More and Sign Up for BioBlitz 2014!!!

2 responses to “Pining Away

  1. Pingback: It’s Finally Here—BioBlitz 2014! | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. TREES FOR LIFE:
    YOU CATCH RAINFALL MAY YOU MULTIPLY,
    YOU BREAK THE WIND MAY YOU GAIN STRENGTH,
    YOU INHABIT US THANK YOU,
    YOU RAISE THE NATION ECONOMY PRAISE YOU,
    YOU ARE VERY PRECIOUS.

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