Trees

In North Idaho, conifers dominate over deciduous trees which is a blessing in the middle of winter. Fall color isn’t as varied as in the East but golden larch speckling the mountainsides is a sight to behold.


Wildlife attracted to dead trees

I often notice snags because of the woodpecker holes or woodpeckers drumming on the tree. However, woodpeckers aren’t the only ones utilizing snags. Snags (any dead or dying standing tree) are considered wildlife trees because they often provide more habitat for wildlife when dead than when alive. Wildlife utilize snags…

Continue reading

Every burl is different

  Every so often while hiking I find a tree with a burl. Sometimes the burl is a small globular protrusion on a branch and other times there are multiple burls on one tree. On a hike many years ago I found a burl that looked like a woman’s face…

Continue reading

Roots do more than anchor a tree

Remember the incredible wind storms last summer? Tall ponderosa pines were bent over under the forty mile an hour winds. Some trees came crashing down roots and all while others snapped at weaker points along the trunk. Most trees survived–minus a few limbs– thanks to their extensive root systems. We…

Continue reading

Western hemlock tolerate life in the shadows

Fastest. Strongest. Survival of the fittest. When push comes to shove in nature, usually the weak or meek don’t survive. And in the case of trees, the towering giants bask in the sun and shade out their competition–at least in theory. Waiting in the shadows of some towering Douglas-fir and…

Continue reading

Do you know your cones?

Plink, plink, plink, plop. Plink, plink, plink, plop. The sound of a busy squirrel harvesting cones as they drop to the forest floor. The squirrel is harvesting cones with the seeds still intact so he can stash them for winter. A few “green” cones may be forgotten by the squirrel…

Continue reading

The never-ending aspen

One of my favorite sounds is the rustling of aspen leaves in the wind. While most leaves are attached to branches with round stems, quaking aspen have a flat stem that causes the leaf to tremble in the slightest breeze. An added bonus is that aspen trees aren’t usually found…

Continue reading

Sweet cottonwood fragrance will announce spring

One day in early spring, the sweet fragrance of cottonwood buds will fill the air. The large pointed buds of black cottonwoods are filled with a sticky, reddish substance that emits a sweet resinous fragrance. The fragrance is only the beginning of noticeable features for black cottonwoods. The fragrance precedes…

Continue reading

Juniper species grow in tree and shrub form

Nestled on a rocky site north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, a juniper bush seems out of place. Could it be the same species I’ve seen in North Idaho and the deserts of the Southwest? Despite the dramatic difference in latitude, the common juniper thrives across most of North…

Continue reading

Alpine larch usher in autumn in the high country

As autumn begins, a golden color will highlight timberline as alpine larch turn from a light green to a golden yellow. Turning color and losing its needles a month earlier than lower elevation western larch, the alpine larch ushers in autumn in the high country. Alpine larch eek out a…

Continue reading

Conifers increase the odds with prolific pollen

You may have noticed a yellow dust on your car or around the edges of puddles recently. The visible yellow dust is only a fraction of the pollen that is being released from conifers. Spring is a time for pollination and conifers are no exception. Conifers are subtle in their…

Continue reading