Monday, June 29, 2020

Green cone and mouse tails

I don't often see Douglas-fir cones up close while they're still on the tree. They grow mostly on the higher branches; when they're ripe and brown, they drop to the ground. The dike around the Oyster Bay meadow, raised several metres above ground level, put me level with one tree's branches laden with their new cones, green and reddish.

Cones, male and female, on Pseudotsuga menziesii var menziesii.

The long cone is the seed cone. It will turn brown and fall to the ground; these are the cones I find scattered throughout the forest. The three-pointed bracts identify the cones as Douglas-fir; no other evergreen around here has them. They have been described as snake tongues, or the hind legs and tail of mice hiding under the scales. Shy little brown mice.

Above this cone, the much smaller, bumpy, reddish-brown cones are pollen cones. The pollen blows in the wind, and will fertilize the seed cones on another tree.


Normalmente si encuentro piñas de abeto Douglas, están en el suelo, maduras y secas. No las veo en el árbol porque crecen en las ramas superiores. El camino a un lado de Oyster Bay corre encima de un dique de unos tres metros, así que me trajo cara a cara con unas piñas, machos y hembra.

La piña mayor, larga y verde, es la hembra; produce semillas bajo cada escala. Estas son las que caen al suelo. Las brácteas, de tres puntos, se han comparado con lenguas de víbora, o también se dice que son ratoncitos escondidos, a los cuales se les ve únicamente las patas traseras y la colita. 

Arriba, hay varias piñas de polen, chicas y rojizas. El polen se esparcen en el viento para fecundar las piñas hembras de otro árbol.


  1. Along our city walking path there are lots of ornamental pines. This spring they were loaded with male pollen cones. If you brushed a branch it flew everywhere. Things must be better now, my stuffy nose and runny eyes are much better. - Margy

    1. They say it helps to wear the masks. I'll try that next spring.


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