Traveling South with the Arborsmiths - Part 3

Backyard Wisdom

 The unparalleled Southern Magnolia

The unparalleled Southern Magnolia

by Master, ISA certified arborists  Gilbert A. Smith

 Photos by Lesley Bruce Smith

Photos by Lesley Bruce Smith

Driving south in October the fall color was in its early stages. In Wisconsin the colors were dramatic but the Tennessee trees had time to dawdle. However, just south of Birmingham Alabama the fall color stopped altogether and we crossed over into the land of eternal summer.
 
The climax forest down here is said to be Beech / Magnolia / Pine. From our 60 MPH vantage point we saw predominantly Sweet Gum, Magnolia and Pine with the emphasis on Pine. Such lovely Loblollies and Short Leaf Pines! The Lumber trucks loaded with giant, straight Pine logs rumbled by us on our bicycles and the spicy scent nearly knocked us off the road.( we cycled through the bayou country in east Texas and Louisiana.  For more details see Team Tyler rides...)

 Magnificent Live Oak, 125’ diameter by Lesley Bruce Smith

Magnificent Live Oak, 125’ diameter by Lesley Bruce Smith

Here is another tree detective clue, wherever Pines grow you are in a harsh environment for trees. Maybe you thought the southern pine forests were hospitable to all trees but here extremely hot and occasionally really dry will burn out many deciduous trees. Pines are adapted to harsh conditions because they have a sturdier, smaller vascular system than deciduous trees which allows uninterrupted water flow through their trunks. And the smaller surface of the leaves (needles) allows food production (photosynthesis) during harsh weather without as much heat desiccation or freezing as broadleaved or deciduous trees. When you think about it, needle bearing evergreens grow high up in alpine regions, near the frozen Tundra, or deserts. Which leads us wonder how evergreen trees do in northeast Illinois?  The short answer is, they don’t like it. (we talk about that in wisdom from the trees June? 2014 )
    
In the land of endless summers, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and, of course, Florida there is one species that catches our eye. That’s the evergreen Live Oak.  In this case a picture is worth a thousand words.

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