Monday, March 13, 2017

Nature Park revisited: Hemlocks in bogs.

Herein I plagiarize myself, from this very blog, about this very bog.  In 2008 I wrote about the different growth habits of western hemlocks in a mixed deciduous forest and the adjacent remnant peat bog in the Richmond Nature Park.

That was shortly after I had stopped working at the park, where my activities had included managing volunteers in the endless task of invasive species removal.  For the past decade I haven't been back to the park much, mostly for Christmas bird counts and the odd special event.  Our son, who was not yet born when I started working there, is now a volunteer, which was what brought me there today, waiting for him to finish.  I went for a walk, with a phone from the future (relative to when I started working there), and took pictures.

And now the plagiarism begins (except for the photos):

Western hemlock, typical appearance.

Me (2008): The western hemlock is typically the most graceful of the native conifers, with a drooping leader (top branch), long branches that sweep downward, and feathery needles that stick out from sides of the twigs, producing flattened, fan-like foliage. It is the hemlock of the lowlands. As you climb the coastal mountains, you find it replaced by the mountain hemlock, which differs in having a somewhat less droopy leader, relatively shorter branches that tend to point upward, and needles that grow from the twig in all directions, like the bristles of a bottle brush.

Bog form.

Here in Richmond, at sea level, land of the western hemlock, where there are patches of peat bog interspersed with mixed forest, one notices a strange thing. The western hemlocks that grow in the nutrient-poor, acidic, Sphagnum-based peaty soil of the bog resemble mountain hemlocks in relative branch length and shape, and in needle arrangement. They look like mountain hemlocks -- church-steeple narrow and bristly, instead of spreading, graceful and feathery. In places where topsoil has been dumped on top of the bog (unfortunately, that includes most of it), the western hemlocks are tall and graceful, right next to frazzled mountain-looking bog-dwellers.

Bog form.

Is it the acid? I don’t think anyone knows. Another odd thing, the boggy ones seem not to produce cones. A bog is tough neighbourhood in which to grow. (/2008).

Look at this beauty, a lonely dancer, out in the bog.

1 comment:

Sally said...

So good to see these recent posts. And hemlock, one of my most favorites (though I know eastern rather than western). I miss our old blogging crowd, though as I look today, maybe it's just me who's missing! Nice to catch up...