Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

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DAKennedy
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Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by DAKennedy » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:55 pm

NTS,

On Saturday, July 23rd, I went on a trip from Calpine to Babbitt Peak, a mountain 8,760 feet in elevation. The peak is home to the Babbitt Peak Research Natural Area, designated as such for its' pure stands of the rare, taxonomically-disputed Washoe Pine (Pinus washoensis). The pines grow both inside and just outside of the RNA, in pure stands. The very top of the mountain is home to a USFS fire lookout surrounded by majestic views and a small forest of Western White Pine, White Fir, Red Fir, Lodgepole Pine, Mountain Mahogany and (theoretically) Whitebark Pine.

After taking in the 150 mile+ view from the summit, we descended the mountain looking for Washoe Pines. Our first stop was at a forest of Washoe Pine 2-3' DBH, followed by another stop at a much larger pine - 15'6" CBH x 145' H. Almost a new champion, but outpointed by a mere 30 points. Afterwards, we made several more stops along the way down, before heading home.
HUGE 21' CBH Jeffrey Pine snag.
HUGE 21' CBH Jeffrey Pine snag.
Interesting arborglyph.
Interesting arborglyph.
Local burrowing owl.
Local burrowing owl.
Mt. Rose, ~20 miles southwest, is home to another stand of Washoe Pine.
Mt. Rose, ~20 miles southwest, is home to another stand of Washoe Pine.
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Washoe Pine, 15.5' CBH
Washoe Pine, 15.5' CBH
Duncan Kennedy
Student; UNR Environmental Sci.
Tree Measurer.

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:15 pm

Duncan- Really cool post never heard of that species. Great photos as well glad to have you onboard. Maybe we could meet up sometime when I get out to Cal. and hunt some trees. Larry

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DAKennedy
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by DAKennedy » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:16 pm

Larry,

The reason that almost no one has heard about Washoe Pine is because it is sometimes classified as a species of its' own, and other sources classify it as a subspecies of Ponderosa Pine.

If you are ever in the Sierra north of Lake Tahoe, feel free to drop by. I'd be delighted to hunt trees with you.

- Duncan
Duncan Kennedy
Student; UNR Environmental Sci.
Tree Measurer.

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Rand
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by Rand » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:51 am

'Conifers of California' by Ronald M. Lanner has this to say about Washoe Pine [p.65-67]:

Some of the yellow pine logs flumed off the Sierra Nevada eastside to supply lumber for Virginia City and mine props for the Comstock Lode were of a species that had no name until the mid-twentieth century. They were the product of Washoe pine, perhaps the rarest member of its genus in the United States after Torrey pine.

Washoe pine went unrecognized until September 1938, when University of California botanist Herbert L. Mason, acting on a tip from vegetation survey workers, botanized the east slope of Mount Rose, Nevada. Mason spotted what he first took to be a small-coned Jeffrey pine in the upper reaches of Galena Creek. He returned the next year and the next, collecting specimens and determining the extent of the second-growth pine stand that had come in amid the old stumps of the an 1860’s logging operation. One old tree found in the seven mile long stand rose to 200 feet, suggesting the potential of this new pine which mason and forest geneticist Palmer Stockwell named to commemorate the Washoe Indians who had hunted on these wooded slopes.

Within three decades or so of Mason and Stockwell’s 1945 publication of Washoe pine, several other locations were found, including its major concentration in the Warner Mountains of Northeastern California. Great old “pumpkin pines,” grew here in open stands consisting of trees of all ages and sizes. They are interspersed among openings lush with lupine, wild rose, mule ears, and big sagebrush. In the surrounding forests, California white fir is the most common species, especially on the shadier slopes; there is also a a scattering of whitebark pine and stands of lodgepole pine that face quaking aspen across high, windswept meadows.

Washoe pines tend to go unnoticed because of their resemblance to the closely related ponderosa pine and more superficial similarity to Jeffrey pine. To confused matters, the Washoe pines at Mount Rose’s Galena creek co-occur with Jeffreys, while those in the Warners merge into ponderosa at their lower edge. Chemically, the resin of Washoe pine is similar to that of ponderosa but totally dissimilar to that of the heptane-producing Jeffrey. Nevertheless, some observers find that the bark of Washoe pine gives forth the vanilla-like aroma of Jeffrey pine.

Washoe pine’s origin remain enigmatic. One hypothesis holds that it is the product of an ancient hybridization between Jeffrey pine and the rocky mountain variety of ponderosa pine, but chemical data lend this idea no support. Another view is that “Washoe Pine” is merely a high-elevation variant of ponderosa pine. Further study of this pine is justified.

Seed cone characteristics are critical in identifying Washoe pine and can be used year-round. Mature Washoe pine cones that have already opened and shed their seeds feel like miniature Jeffrey cones; smooth to the touch because the scale prickles do not point outwards. However, they are much smaller than Jeffrey cones, usually only 2 to 4 inches long instead of 5 to 10 inches. Before they mature Washoe pine cones are deep purple in color, while those of the similar sized ponderosa pine are usually green. But this characteristic must be used cautiously since high-elevation ponderosa pine can have purplish cones.

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Don
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by Don » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:18 am

Lanner can be considered an expert in the eastern California high elevation trees, especially five-needled pines. I've noted a duality among botanists...they range from 'lumpers', to 'splitters'. I understand the need to ferret out the differences, but at a certain point I fall into the lumper category...having come from a field-based plant identification, those species/sub-species that can only be determined by DNA analysis/chemical resin analysis, and other lab-based identifications fall out of my interest level. What we can hear, feel, smell, taste, and see...yesterday, we traveled across the Oregon Cascades, and at a certain point, encountered what I ultimately chose to identify as a ponderosa/Jeffrey pine hybrid...although I couldn't now comfortably say they weren't (Washoe pines) also relicts of another climate/time that managed to find enough of a niche to 'weather' the vagaries of time. Hear? Wind blowing through different pine species seem different; Feel? The cones of a ponderosa have scales pointing out and prickly where Jeffreys turn inwards...hybrids vary; our olfactory sensing varies between individuals (pineapple, vanilla, more?) for ponderosa, but are you sure you're not sniffing a hybrid? See? Color in general varies from the yellow-gold part of the color spectrum to a red-brown in ponderosas to Jeffreys, respectively...hybrids in between. Taste? I'll bet those who've tried making tea out their needles will have something to offer!
But I love them all the same, they are 'all' one of my favorite non-five-needle pines'!
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by M.W.Taylor » Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:01 am

DAKennedy wrote:Larry,

The reason that almost no one has heard about Washoe Pine is because it is sometimes classified as a species of its' own, and other sources classify it as a subspecies of Ponderosa Pine.

If you are ever in the Sierra north of Lake Tahoe, feel free to drop by. I'd be delighted to hunt trees with you.

- Duncan

Duncan,

Does that Washoe Pine resemble those ponderosa/Jeffrey hybrids near your house a little ? Did the cones have inwardly bent keels with high scale density. Did the pitch have Jeffrey-like turpenes ? Does it resemble something in-between a Jeffrey and a ponderosa ?

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DAKennedy
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Re: Babbitt Peak - Pinus washoenisis

Post by DAKennedy » Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:31 pm

Michael,

The characteristics you stated match the description of Pinus washoenisis perfectly.

Next time you come by, I'll show you a comparison of a pure Jeffrey, a pure Ponderosa and a Washoe. You'll find some interesting differences and similarities.

- Duncan
Duncan Kennedy
Student; UNR Environmental Sci.
Tree Measurer.

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