For Biology students in the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Redwoods are simply fascinating...
Here is an excerpt from a paper I was reading today.....
But on a glorious May day, nearly three-quarters of the way into the transect, they arrived at the southern end of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the largest contiguous block of old-growth redwood forest left on the planet--some 10,000 acres. The alluvial flats along its creeks and rivers are prime redwood habitat, where the mix of rich soils, water, and fog rolling in from the ocean have produced the planet's tallest forest. Of the 180 knownredwoods greater than 350 feet, more than 130 grow right here.
Fording a vein of emerald water known as the South Fork of the Eel, they climbed the far bank and entered the translucent shade of the most magnificent grove they'd seen yet.Redwoods the size of Saturn rockets sprouted from the ground like giant beanstalks, their butts blackened by fire. Some bore thick, ropy bark that spiraled skyward in candy-cane swirls. Others had huge cavities known as goose pens--after the use early pioneers put them to--big enough to hold 20 people. Treetops the size of VW buses lay half-buried among the sorrel and sword ferns, where they'd plummeted from 30 stories up--the casualties of titanic wars with the wind, which even now coursed through the tops with panpipe-like creaks and groans. It's no wonder Steven Spielberg and George Lucas filmed scenes for the Jurassic Park sequel and Return of the Jedi among the redwood giants: It felt as if a T. rex or a furry Ewok could poke its head out at any minute.
Redwoods are no less magical for foresters. Because their bark and heartwood are rich in compounds called polyphenols, bugs and decay-causing fungi don't like them. And since there's not a lot of resin in their stringy bark, larger redwoods are highly resistant to fire.
Question: It's known that older trees are more resistant to fire. But is this b/c they have more sap? Size? Does the resin, bark and sap structure change in an older tree? why...?