Scots Pines in Central Spain

April 21, 2012

ScotspinesEPOD (3)

Photographer: F.J. Pobes; F. Javier’s Web site
Summary Author: F.J. Pobes; Jim Foster
In the Sierra de Guadarrama of central Spain, Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) thrive in the watershed of the River Moros at altitudes between about and 4,900  and 6,500 ft (1490 and 1,980 m) – at left. Some of these mountain pines live to be over 200 years old and can attain heights in excess of 100 ft (30 m). As shown at upper right, several of these trees along a mountain road were cut since they were in ill health and posed a hazard to drivers.

The felled trees provided an opportunity to examine their ring structure. To do so, usually a small drill is used to remove a sliver of wood in the trunk, close to the ground. If proper procedures are employed, it’s unlikely the tree will be harmed. Note the detail of the tree rings at lower right. By the method of dendrochronology, it’s possible to date the approximate age of the woody trees and to ascertain past climatic patterns of the area where they were found. While not foolproof, the width and number of rings are excellent indicators of the age of the tree and the climate experienced during its growth. For example, during periods of drought, disease or pestilence, the rings are much closer together than when growing conditions are optimal. The tree shown at lower right is estimated to be near 100 years old.

Photo details: Canon 350D camera; Sigma Zoom 28-70 mm lens with neutral density filter; Photoshop Montage.