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Douglas fir

 
Click image to view at 100% scale

Click image to view at 100% scale

 

Tree Stats

Height 262’ (79.8m)
Circumference 30.6' (9.3m)
Elevation 1270' (387m) asl
Aspect North East
Location Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon

Image stats

Original Images 56
Editing hours 170
Revisions 2
Dimensions 81”x25.5” (206x65cm) @ 300 dpi
File size (editing) 32gb
File size (final) 3.1Gb
Photoshop layers 126

Honor Role

Andrew Bluhm
Dr Sky Lan 藍永翔
Dr Jimmy Swingle
Dr Eric Forsman
Mikolaj Miazio
Elena Lauterbach
James Luce

 
 

shop Douglas fir

 
 
 

The Leaning Veteran

35 minutes along a winding forestry road in Siuslaw National Forest lands you pretty well in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, our first visit to see this proposed tree nearly ended in defeat. After several hours of searching where the tree should have been we, with slumped shoulders, decided to call it a day. Turning for the final time and planning to exit along the overgrown track Andrew says, almost under his breath “there it is, that’s it!” Moments later we exploded out of the car, our heads skywards trying to catch a glimpse of the tree through the overgrown salmonberry.

Remote, silent and situated just below the ridgeline that protects it from the dominating westerlies, this tree stands tall. However, this tree is not completely intact as it has lost some of its bigger lower branches (where the climber in the blue jacket is located). A section of the top of the tree has also snapped off which means this tree was once even taller.

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is one of the most commercially important tree species in the world due to its fast growth rates, widespread range and superb wood qualities. Douglas-fir is the largest and tallest member of the pine family. Enormous trees once existed with historic reports suggesting the trees grew to 400’ (121.9m) tall and 53.4’ (16.3m) in circumference. However we might never know for sure as the trees were ruthlessly exploited and today’s trees while incredible, are mere scraps of what once existed.

Douglas-fir is a very unique tree species as it displays great adaptability and can grow anywhere with a fire history. It exhibits characteristics of both a shade-intolerant, early successional species and a shade-tolerant, late successional species. It is an aggressive pioneer species primarily dependent on fire to become established.  After it is established individuals can live to the great age of 1,400+ years and survive many fires due largely to its thick, coarse bark growing continually thicker with age.

Old-growth Douglas-fir forests are iconic and support a diverse array of plant and animal species. Roosevelt elk, Pacific giant salamander and the rare spotted owl and its main prey the red tree vole inhabit these forests. Indeed it was the tireless work of scientists establishing the links between these noteworthy species and old growth that now protects much of what remains. 

This tree, with its charred outer bark, gnarled branches, and broken top has withstood the centuries. It has become a magnificent giant in a truly stunning Pacific Northwest old-growth forest.

 
 
 
 
 
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noble fir

 
Click to view at 100% scale

Click to view at 100% scale

 

Tree Stats

Height 263’ (80.2m)
Circumference 19.9' (6.1m)
Elevation 3172' (967m) asl
Aspect South
Location Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Image stats

Original Images 72
Editing hours 85
Revisions 2
Dimensions 112”x25.7”(284x65.5cm) @ 300dpi
File size (editing) 59Gb
File size (final) 4.4Gb
Photoshop layers 148

Honor Role

Andrew Bluhm
Dr Sky Lan 藍永翔
Will Koomjian
Brian French
Rachel French
James Luce
Tyler Zuniga

 
 
 

Shop Noble fir

 

The volcanic pioneer

There is an unmistakable sound of a gentle breeze moving through pine needles. As we move through the forest, the sound is distant, as the tree tops and the breeze are 250’ above us. The freezing cold forest floor, quiet and dark, is open and easy to navigate. Indeed, you can casually stroll without care or watchful eye on your path, the only obstacle is the occasional giant fallen log. 

Through this stillness tremendous columns of wood, that seem uniformly spaced, bridge the space between the sky and the ground. The gap between neighboring trees’ branch tips looks to be just inches apart and the dance of these gaps in the breeze is reminiscent of light on water. Never before has a forest enchanted the visitor like this one. 

Goat Marsh is a stand with one of the highest tree biomasses ever recorded in the Pacific Northwest. Noble fir (Abies procera) requires cool, moist habitats and is therefore largely restricted to the mid- and high- elevations of the Oregon and Washington Cascade Mountains. Noble fir is the largest of the 40 species of true fir.  Unlike most true firs, noble fir is a shade-intolerant, pioneer species that can regenerate in abundance following natural disturbances. 

In 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted, it levelled the tallest noble fir on record at 324’ (98.8m), along with another 230 sq mi of surrounding forest. In the wake of this cataclysmic destruction many of the first trees to recolonize the rubble were Noble fir. This new generation of trees given 200-300 years and stable climatic conditions will potentially reach such heights again. 

If the forest is not disturbed then these relatively short lived trees (~500 years) will naturally begin to decline. Through the natural process of forest succession, they will nobly give way to longer-lived, more shade tolerant species like western hemlock and Pacific silver fir. This flourishing ecosystem founded on destruction and chaos will continue on. 

 
 
 
 
 
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sitka spruce

 
Click to view at 100% scale

Click to view at 100% scale

Tree Stats

HEIGHT 259’ (79.0m)
Circumference 37.6' (11.5m)
Elevation 72' (22m) asl
Aspect North East
Location Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon

Image stats

Original Images 68
Editing hours 350+
Revisions 4
Dimensions 90’x25.5’ (230x64cm) at 300 dpi
File size (final) 3.8Gb
File size (editing) 72gb
Photoshop layers 211

Honor Role

Andrew Bluhm
Dr Sky Lan 藍永翔
James Luce
Dr Eric Forsman

 
 
 

SHOP SITKA SPRUCE

 

The coastal giant

How can a mile long hike take so long? I would often think this to myself as we haphazardly made our way in the dark forest before dawn. The approach to this tree quickly transforms from a pleasant track teaming with banana slugs and dancing ferns, to a ruthless trudge through squelching mud. We duck under branches and haul gear over fallen logs with anything but agility. The numerous fallen trees lined with broken branch stubs seem perfectly made to catch on every loose raincoat hood or backpack strap. We are exhausted before too long. The two shallow creek crossings are a continual worry, it seems impossible to predict even the most familiar stepping stone and frequently boots are plunged into the icy water. Still, as we reach the first vantage point and crane our necks upwards, the difficult trudge was immediately forgotten. We had reached ‘The Coastal Giant’.

This tree makes its home beside a growling creek in a deep muddy valley and has withstood countless howling storms for hundreds of years. Like most tall Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), this tree has not escaped the storms unscathed. A gigantic scar covering a 2’ x 6’ section of the trunk is visible just beside the climber in the yellow jacket. Towards the top of the tree, just above the climber in the blue jacket, a regrowing crown from where it was snapped long ago indicates this tree has had its fair share of hardships. 

Rarely growing far from the ocean, Sitka Spruce is a maritime species which is found from northern California to Alaska. This species thrives on the windswept and very wet coastlines and along floodplains of large, ocean-flowing rivers. The Sitka spruce temperate rainforests are known to have some of the highest growth rates ever reported. 200-300 year old trees can be gigantic, making them important carbon sinks. Most of the largest Sitka spruce trees were cut down during the mid-20thcentury. Its wood has an extremely high strength to weight ratio and was ideal for the first military aircraft. 

The forest floor in these moist, coastal environments is often covered by a thick carpet of moss and vegetation which makes it difficult for seeds to germinate. A newly fallen logs surface provides an ideal place for a new generation to get started. These so called nurse logs are the reason why mature Sitka spruce trees are often in a straight line. These nurse logs, once rotted away, produce trees that have incredible buttressed bases and bizarre root systems that effectively seem to hold the trees base above the ground. These challenging environmental conditions give each old growth Sitka Spruce a fantastic personalised structure.

 
 
 
 
 
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