Thursday, 19 June 2008
Life Photo Meme - Ancient
The most ancient living thing I could think of around here was the Scots Pine - Pinus sylvestris. I am lucky enough to have four very old specimens in my garden, and this is the biggest and grandest of them:
Scots Pine, despite their name, are the most widely distributed conifer in the world, according to Trees For Life. Nevertheless, we do feel a special bond with them here in Scotland. Much of the North of Scotland was once covered in forest it is believed - an almost mythical forest known as The Great Caledonian Forest. There are only a few 'islands' of ancient woodland left in a sea of commercial forestry, but conservation work is being done to try to redress the balance.
The ancient forests had several hardy tree species in them - birch, pine and rowan - but the grandest, largest and most striking were and are the Scots pines. Each one is different - a unique individual. Eleven different growth forms have been identified, from tall and straight to spreading and multiple-trunked and this must help explain the great variety in their appearance. One of the pines in my garden was struck by lightning a few years ago and lost its growing tip. Now a few years later, it is bravely sending out a new leader skewed off to the side. Another one is tall and straight, but with many dead branches, and is a rather scruffy looking individual. The one in the photo above is the grandest - standing in the centre of the lawn and dominating (and dwarfing) everything around. I measured its girth at 8ft and 9 inches this morning, which makes it an extremely old specimen - 300 years or more.