Photograph by Angrea Ugarte

‘Fossilized Sea Shell Impression’

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Text Box: Text Box: 80 Degrees of Separation
Text Box: If you leave Redwood National Park and journey 80 degrees south you will arrive at the coastal town of Valdivia, Chile. These two areas, equidistant north and south from the equator, are about to be united through a sister-park relationship that the Save the Redwoods League is helping to forge. Separated by 6400 miles, they have much in common, starting with two remarkable tree species. Most of us are familiar with the ‘Coastal Redwood’ – Sequoia Semperviren. Its southern relative is the Fitzroya Cupressoide, commonly called the ‘Alerce’, or occasionally the ‘Southern Redwood’. Both are members of the cypress family, and both anchor iconic temperate rainforests that have been subject to extensive logging and are now protected in a series of parks and reserves. If you squint while looking at a photo taken in an ancient Alerce forest, at the western edge of the Andes mountain range, you could imagine yourself transported to the northern California Coastal Redwoods.

‘Fossilized Log Section’

‘The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park (FNMSP)’

‘Sleeping Jack-o’-lantern’

Text Box: ‘The Forest of Nisene Marks
State Park (FNMSP)’
Text Box: ‘Sam McDonald
County Park’

‘New Tree in a Stump’

‘New Tree over Old Stump’

 Git’n Silly in ‘Heritage Grove’

‘Tarwater Creek’

‘Pescadero

 County Park’

‘Purisima Creek

  Redwoods OSP’

‘Wood-Peg Bridge’

‘Big Basin Redwoods State Park (BBRSP)’

‘Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park’

 

‘Butano State Park (BSP)’

‘Gemini’

‘Oblique Cliff Strata’

‘The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park (FNMSP)’

‘Lichen Covered Root Burls’

‘Horsetail Fern’

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Avenue of the Dwarfs

 

 

Imagine hiking up a steep trail, zigzagging along the switch-backs, until you finally ascend to the top of a ridge. As you stand there, you begin to look around, enjoying the distant views and surroundings, until your eyes come to rest on a stand of bean-pole trees behind you. Upon closer inspection, you notice that these trees have the familiar collection of feather-shaped shade needles and spiny sun needles of the coast redwood, but they are lime-green.

 

This closely packed stand of thousands of trees average about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and are stunted in height. They currently range to about 25 feet tall. The bark of these trees, while gray in color, otherwise closely resembles - in miniature - the bark of the coast redwoods (Sequoia Sempervirens) and is spongy to the touch.

 

What you have found is Quail Hollow Ranch’s very healthy-looking dwarf redwood grove, or pygmy redwood forest, along the upper end of the ‘Sunset Trail’, which could be referred to as ‘The Avenue of the Dwarfs’, in this very sandy Ben Lomond Mountain Range.

 

What you see here is what happens when a towering coast redwood is allowed to grow in impoverished hardpan soils, near 1,000 feet elevation, with no source of water other than winter rains and sporadic light summer fog. This causes stunted growth and altered color. The shallow root system of the redwoods are an advantage in these superficial soils. However, when soils are limited, they result in stunted tree growth.

 

In your typical pygmy forest, trees can grow centuries old, yet remain a mere ten feet tall. Stunted growth may be caused by extreme ph levels, poor drainage, low oxygen levels, or poor nutrient levels. In this stand, the trees may be fairly young, and with time they may acquire a gnarled appearance yet maintain their small stature. Little is known of this dwarf redwood stand, but with time, as the trees mature and more study provides additional information, we may come to discover the hidden secrets of this unique habitat.

 

‘Avenue of the Dwarfs’

‘Visualize Man facing sitting Monkey’

‘Horse Riders in San Lorenzo River’

‘Visualize Man Serving Woman’

‘Many Mushrooms on Downed Tree Roots’

Text Box: ‘Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP’
Text Box: ‘Quail Hollow Ranch County Park’
Text Box: ‘Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park’ Text Box: ‘Big Basin Redwoods State Park’

Photograph by Angrea Ugarte Nichols

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