|Inside a hollow redwood. May 13|
Dates: May 13, 30, June 1
Place: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Felton, California
Coordinates: 37.041551, -122.064539
Length: about 2.5 miles
Do click on the images for a larger view.
Bay Area residents and visitors don't need to travel all the way to to Redwoods National Park to view giant redwood trees. Thanks to pioneer activism over a 100 years ago a few groves of old redwoods were saved from the intense logging that was taking place around the Bay Area at the time.
The best known one is Muir Woods National Monument, north of San Francisco.
A little less worldly famous is in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, about 9 miles north of Santa Cruz.
In the past spring I had the pleasure of hiking there several times within a month, both on my own and with groups. I bring here photos from three of these hikes.
|My trail is labeled yellow. In red - the Big Trees Loop and Cable Car Beach|
My first hike there last spring begun at 6:30 am. It was overcast and chilly, and in the forest it was so dark that hardly any of my photos I took there are worthy of posting.
|The ferny forest floor. It is so dark under the big trees that the flash kicks in.|
|Cable Car Beach, May 13|
The narrow Eagle Creek merges with the San Lorenzo River right at that beach.
|Foamflower (Tiarella sp.) May 13|
|Crimson Sorrel (Oxalis incarnata), May 30|
|Iris, May 13|
|A forest brook, May 13|
|Yellow Spotted Millipede|
|A Banana Slug on a redwood tree. June 1, 2014|
|A Borrowing Spider tunnel.|
|Rough Hedgenettle (Stachys rigida).|
|Wood Duck, breeding male, May 13|
Rather than going back to the big trees loop, I continued along the river. There is river access in several places via unofficial little trails. I went down one of these to see what I can find. I liked the reflection I saw.
|Purple Foxglove (Digitais purpurea)|
Right by the river bank there are boxelder trees. Usually I don't give them much attention. One of them, though, did get my attention for some time. It was infested with galls that completely deformed its leaves. Poor thing.
|San Lorenzo River, the lovely beach that's behind the parking lot.|
|Acorn Woodpecker, female|
But even with optimal lighting I couldn't get them to fit into the frame, even with my wide-angle lens.
The Big Trees Loop (labeled red in the map at the top of the page) offers a chance to get acquainted not only with the immense size of these old growth trees but also with their personalities. For example, you can see one that's branching. Coastal Redwoods don't normally do that, but this one does.
|A branching Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), May 30|
The simple case is that of a chimeric plant that has the mutation expressed in only parts of the plant, giving it a variegated appearance. In this case, the green part of the plant supports the white part, in the same manner it supports any other non-photosynthesizing plant organs such as roots. A tree like that grows right by the Big Trees Loop Trail.
|A partially albino redwood at the Big Trees Loop Trail, May 13|
The answer lies in the roots.
Coastal redwoods, just like their Sierra Nevada relatives, the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), can fuse roots with one-another, thus creating an enormous underground network that shares water, hormones (yes, they do communicate with each other!), and also, as it turns out, the products of photosynthesis, i.e. sugar. The roots of the albino redwoods are fused to nearby green redwoods and live off them. Isn't it amazing?
Some albino redwoods live are in Humboldt County, way up north. Rumor has it that there are such trees also within Henry Cowell SP, but their location is kept secret, for their own protection. If I should ever come across one I would be very excited indeed, and keep it to my quiet self :-)
Burls are commonplace in coastal redwoods. Some, though, have considerably more burls than others.
|A burly redwood, May 13|
The burls are also full of meristematic tissue that have the potential to bud out and form a branch. The in most cases, the burl meristems are suppressed by the auxin hormone that's released at the main growth meristem all the way up there at the apex (the tree top).
But that apical control weakens as the main apex grows further up ...
|A budding redwood burl, May 13|
|A Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) burl sprout, May 13|
What can be done to stop this? Like with any other poaching: abolish the market for the poached goods. Anyone who considers buying a burl wood product should verify the legitimacy of its source, and any burl supplier should provide that information in a verifiable form.
Redwoods sprout new growth from their roots as well.
|Root-sprouted redwood growth|
|A Coastal Redwood clone ring|
|Wild bee hive|
The California Gold Rush and the other settlers who came along discovered very quickly this quality of the coastal redwood, and within a short time have logged nearly all of the old growth trees in the Bay Area. The old growth redwood grove at Henry Cowell SP was spared by the various owners of that piece of land, and eventually became protected due to the advocacy of a Santa Cruz banker named W.T. Jether.
This grove is has some very impressive trees. It is very sad to see the remains of what used to be an entire forest of such impressive trees. Everywhere around the big trees area there are giant stumps, a poignant reminder of modern man's destructive ways.
|A prematurely terminated redwood, one of many. May 30|