Friday, September 23, 2011

Douglas-firs in Laurelhurst Park

I bid farewell to summer yesterday with a walk through Laurelhurst Park.  The big Dougs were bleeding sap like nobody's business.

David Douglas, the famous Scottish botanist, is the namesake of those majestic kings of Oregon's Cascade forests. Douglas earned the honor by introducing the mighty conifer to Europe in 1827.  Douglas-firs are not true firs.  They belong to a genus known as Pseudotsug, which was created specifically to distinguish them as unique from other conifers.  (Dougs have distinct cones that set them apart.)

It's good that they're named for a Scot, because I can imagine no more apt appellation for these magnificent trees.  Tall and proud (sometimes attaining heights of over 300 feet), they remind me of nothing so much as the fearsome, kilted warriors of the highlands, the mountain men who stood fast in the trenches at El Alamein, and who fought bravely in the face of defeat at Culloden.  Their needled canopies are a deep Tartan blue-green.  The sap flowing down their trunks is like blood streaming from the sword pricks of vanquished enemies.

In my boyhood, I would listen to the wind passing through the boughs of the Douglas-firs on my maternal grandfather's farm outside Salem.  It was like the roar of distant waves.  Or perhaps it was some defiant echo, a ghostly challenge from some Scottish host confronting its enemy on a long-ago battlefield.



Dan Binmore said...

Those great, noble Scottish warriors always losing to the venial, wicked English.  Tee hee.

Thargal said...

 I like Laurelhurst Park. fine place.

Back in 09, I measured some of the tallest trees in the park at 150 to 180 feet using an inclinometer. One is 165 feet to a wind blown top, and 2-3 feet at the break, must have been over 200 feet tall at one time. The tallest trees in Portland today, are mere twigs compared to how big they once Forest park, some are up to 240 feet tall and 6 ft thick, (Macleay park). 150 years ago they got up 300 to 350 feet.Lewis & Clark measured a 318 foot fallen tree near Sandy river April 1806, and in 1850 some 300 footers were felled near Oregon city. About 1909 a grove of giants near Latourell, Oregon were reported by timber cruisers to have been as high as 350-400 feet, and some were 60 feet around the trunk --about 19 feet diameter.