"Hahai no ka ua i ka ululā`au"
Hawaiian Proverb which means:
'The rain follows the forest' (Source)
|Photo Mine taken February 2015 on Mount Teide|
The Canary Island pine tree is fascinating in it's almost tough insistence on survival, not only on what appears to be jagged, sterile looking volcanic rock with almost no organic matter & water, but also under the constant potential for wildfire threat either by some future eruption or careless of humans. For the most part, fire often does not kill it, but in some cases not even logging it to the ground seems to stop it's persistence as a living organism. I actually have a picture of that below in the subheading section of Tenerife's ancient forest relics. Most all pine trees that I am aware of from where I come from simply do not stand up to being thoroughly thrashed by fire or even sprouting back from their trunks with a vengeance. The only exception of course is the tough Bigcone Douglas fir which is almost always associated with Chaparral often at lower elevation, than in higher located forests, though there are pockets of them there as well. So with human development encroachment and constant threat of a cigarette fire, the potential this tree's demise is ongoing. Still, it's a tough organism and a hostile world.The Fire Ecology
|image: Nicky vB - 2010|
Jonkersberg, Outeniqua Mtns
Pinus canariensis and Fire for regeneration ?
Previously I have written about my experiences regarding seed germination especially in regards to the chaparral plant community of Southern California. For over two decades of exploring and observation out in the wild, I suddenly began reading some of the fire ecology literature for the first time [believe it or not] around the year 2001 which insisted many trees and shrubs in fire pro-prone regions will not regenerate unless their ecosystem is obliterated by fire. One of these was Tecate cypress which is a tree that has what are called seratonious cones. This simply means that they will not open unless by some type of intense heat like that of wildfire or extreme temperature heat waves. But they will also open if a branch breaks or an animal or bird opens them up. It is these later example scenarios which I had always observed in the wild and I always saw Tecate Cypress seedlings [some dead some alive] within all of the old growth chaparral and Tecate Cypress Forest environments I explored prior to my reading of the literature by Fire Ecologists who wrote otherwise.
But it was this dogmatic view or opinion by these fire ecology experts which threw me, because I had never experienced what they were writing to the public about how things worked out in Chaparral ecosystems. I had never once experienced what they were saying. I had always witnessed seedling emergence every single time I visited. After reading such literature, I took one last visit before moving to Sweden up on Guatay Mountain and sure enough there were the seedling underneath old growth chaparral. So I for the first time paid close attention to any and all clues for how these cones were releasing seeds and that is where I viewed small broken branches from windstorms and birds actually pecking on the cones to get at the seeds. But getting back to Pinus canariensis. They are listed in that paper I've referenced below as having seratiny and yet that is also not my experience with them as a Landscaper & Head Gardener.
Here's rather large Canary Island pinecone
and for scale, I've added a one Euro coin
|image: Mine (May 2011)|
|image: Jeff Ollerton (April 2013)- one year after wildfire 2012|
I remember hearing about this fire after we visited in February 2012. It was sad to hear about but nevertheless a part of what goes on in our modern times. I had not traveled this part of the Highway prior to this past month so I do not remember what it was like. Fortunately, this explorer, Jeff Ollerton has visited quite often over the past 14 trips and was able to photograph the aftermath of what the wildfire did and the regeneration that was then just beginning to kick-start this forest system all over again. In this photo you can see the resprouting from the trunks from bottom to the top. At the top of that pointed hairpin curve in the highway you see in the picture there is a turnout where we stopped and I photographed the greener picture you see below, but first another angle of Jeff's picture from the bottom of that grade facing this direction south.
|image: Jeff Ollerton - 2013 Burn however was in 2012|
In my photo below you can just see that same white patch of what looks to be something like gypsum which is the same patch as you can view it above. That is the bottom of that canyon where the road turns and travels upward again. The viewpoint where I photographed shows a much further advanced greener forest area. Below you can see the hairpin which crosses the dry wash where the above photo was take in 2012. It is the same exact location referenced above a year after the 2012 wildfires. Any wildfire which would do this in the southwestern United States would have surely killed all those trees and these ugly debates over harvest logging would be the order of the day.
|image: Mine - February 2015 - Canary Island Pine regeneration|
Canary Island Pine forest regenerated again around the perimeter of El Teide Caldera's outer rim
Excellent Canary Island Pine Fire Ecology Reference
Wildfire References for Canary Islands (2012)
Unique Volcanic Island Hydrology
|Image: Mine - The other island to the South here is La Gomera|
|Palo Colorado Canyon Road off Hwy 1|
|Image from DesignBoom|
Many may have seen or read about some places around the globe where conditions are highly favourable for water harvesting this way where water resources are scarce to none. Such places such as along the Red Sea in the areas of the mountains of Western Saudi Arabia and Yemen where the plants on the tops of those mountains mostly receive their moisture reserves from the methods I'll describe in some detail below. This is also how the Canary Islands receive their moisture, but through more natural biological mechanisms. More and more, humans are going to be forced to recognize much of the natural world does have many great design applications for replicating after all, irrespective how one believes they got that way.
So how do the Hydrological Biological Mechanisms actually work ?
|Photography By: Dominic Dahncke|
Waterfall Of Clouds, Canary Islands
|image: Chuck Summers|
Redshank Chaparral Adenostoma sparsifolium
Officially, this type of weather phenomena is called in the science books by the name "Occult Precipitation" and I hate that reference. Other preferable names are "Fog or Mist Rain", but here is the definition from Oxford Dictionary:
"Precipitation arriving at a location by processes that would normally go unrecorded by a standard rain gauge, e.g. the condensation of mist and fog on foliage."
Still, I often wonder if there are perhaps other mechanisms at work here. For example take a look at the above picture of a cut out along the roadside where exposure of vertical roots of a Canary Island Pine are present. Previously on a number of occasions I've written about a phenomena called Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution which a handful of excited and dedicated scientists like Todd Dawson are really only scratching the surface and learning about. This phenomena is where it has been discovered that many deeply rooted trees and shrubs tap into underground aquifers or moist subsoil layers during the dry season and hydraulically lifting large amounts of water for their personal use and also redistributing large amounts to other plants nearby. Now take a look at these root infrastructure mechanisms here in the photo on the left. The ectomycorrhizal fungi colonized on pine roots increase water and nutrient absorption by 200%. They colonize only the area around the rooting tips where the finer pine root absorption regions are anyways. The fungi when providing water to their host, do so at their furthest extended reaches by capturing minute water molecules and in the process of pulling them back towards the main pine root plumbing infrastructure, gradually link up within the fungal grid to other mainline branches of the fungal network itself. Closer and closer to the main pine root these smaller water molecules become clustered as they move through the mycelial network and become actual true droplets of water for hydrating their host.
Some Ancient Forest Relics still in existence despite historical clear cutting
|Image: Mine (February 2015)|
So Where Does this Leave Us Now ???
What about all those Myths, Fables, Storytelling & What in the world is the real Truth ?
"The central narrative of this paper is the 'discovery' by British scientist W H Caldwell that monotremes (platypus and echidna) lay eggs. The famous telegram 'monotremes oviparous, ovum meriblastic' (monotremes lay eggs of the same sort as reptiles), sent to the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Canada in 1884, put to rest a debate about whether platypus laid eggs or had live young that had raged throughout the century. The story reveals much about the imperial shaping of scientific knowledge. Observers in Australia and Aboriginal informants, who had asserted that platypus laid eggs, had been disbelieved. 'Discovery' was reserved for Caldwell, a British scientist of impeccable scientific lineage."Another interesting phenomena which doesn't receive much press or given much acknowledgement is the incredible phenomena of mushroom Truffle formation by mycorrhizal fungi almost immediately after Lightning Storms. The Romans and Greeks both recorded such observations, but these have been discounted by most scientists as myths or fables if you've tried to research the literature. The accounts have been categorized under what are a part of the Roman and Greek Mythologies. Then of course there are the Bedouins of the Negev who call these desert truffles ‘the thunder fungus’ and so do other African peoples who search for the Kalahari Desert Truffles after lightning storms. However, I knew of this from observation back in the 1980s when I would go out to search for Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizal truffles. Certainly many would appear in Spring, but especially after the Monsoonal Rain season hit Anza starting around the first of July. Almost two weeks after the heaviest Thunderstorms over my favourite specific collection areas occurred, I would go and collect the dried mature truffles. The are edible and sometimes they would still be a fresh white colour, but I wanted dried truffles for their spores for inoculation. So I waited a while for them to age. The main point is, while I always new the where, I never knew the when until after Lightning Storms. Here are two of Tom Volk's references giving some legitimacy to what others label myths about truffle formation after lightning storms.
Then of course there are what many would call the biblical creation myths. I get the argument and dislike Scientists have against Christendom, I don't care for many of their beliefs or their historical atrocious conduct either, but the newer 20th & 21st century enlightenment movement hasn't exactly managed the world's affairs any better since they usurp religious influence over the world's affairs. Pushing that baggage aside for the moment, take a moment and look at the referenced verse below and read it.
Genesis 2:6 - Amplified Bible
"But there went up a mist (fog, vapor) from the land and watered the whole surface of the ground"This scriptural text has always intrigued me since the early 1960s when it was first read to me. Why ? Because it's odd, not normal, sounds crazy and out of touch with reality as I understood normal back then when it comes to hydrology. In other words, rainfall coming from actual storms off oceans, moving over land masses and dumping rain. Still, in view of how other peoples have been treated in the past by so-called intellectuals which were proven wrong, could there really be any shade of truth to this, if only as an observation ? So I asked myself, could this original writer have also been recording information as he actually observed it back several thousand years ago ? Was he recording phenomena occurring as it was normal and common to him thousands of years ago ? Ultimately I really have no idea for sure. But the location where this information was written down was in the Sinai Peninsula which is right next door where moisture is observed hydrating the various ecosystems within those western Saudi Arabia Mountains today next to the Red Sea. Once again I still have no real clue, and this puzzle got me interested more and more in just how plants could hydrate an entire community through a mycorrhizal fungal network under pristine healthy vegetative conditions which would have been more common then in ancient times thousands of years before the planet held our present 8+ billion humans who have mostly defoliated this planet. We can acknowledge that the present mist or fog precipitation phenomena didn't always occur on Ascension island prior to the introduction of Trees, Shrubs and other plants. But now it does once those trees and shrubs took over and created a cloud forest. Also we know now that desertification does indeed occur when vegetation is removed from an environment. Given the fact that far less humans existed at that time period and more healthy vegetative systems were most likely in existence 1000s of years ago than today, it could be reasonable to assume such a common hydrological system was real at one time. Even Austrian Forester and Physicist Viktor Schauberger (1878-1958) who often tried to describe a phenomena of upwards movement of water within healthy old growth forests by attributing such phenomena to some sort of mysterious energy, had scientific community establishment critics who thought he was a crackpot. How could he possibly have known about old growth forests incredible ability at Hydraulic Lift and redistribution ? He did however make observations of pure clean water springs and brooks disappearing after old growth forest trees were cut down. He attributed it to the sun having a negative effect of draining power away from the naturally occurring energized water as he called it. Today however we know far more than he did and yet he was correct that such a phenomena did indeed exist. The main problem with today's intellectual movement is that they will automatically discount such phenomena for no other reasons than they hate who the messengers might be. That's irresponsible, but clearly throughout time, this has historical precedent. How many important discoveries have been stifled because of condescending arrogance by the ruling elite in our world ? At least for the people who know me and what I am talking about, this phenomena and other intriguing complex networked functions which move and sustain ecosystems, this gives hope and promise that based on many of these facts, that the earth can be biologically repaired and made a more sustainable place in which to reside. The only thing that stands in the way is proper leadership from all ruling sources. Off hand the present leadership fails here. Still, for the moment, people can still decide what to believe and make practical application where important.
Now, getting back once again to Pinus canariensis & Southern California
|image: Mine (June 2014)|
Can anyone here spot the rather large glaring mistake that was done by the home owner ? Yes, that's right, the home owner had tree trimmers come in and top this Canary Island Pine tree. Had the tree trimming company actually known their business and knowledge of trees, they would have advised the customer to wait and see what happens. Of course maybe they did know and opted not to recommend waiting as that would have lost the account and some business. Clearly after topping this tree, we can see the lower part did come back with a fresh coat of new needles. Had the homeowner also known what the Tree Trimming Company should have known and informed them about, the entire tree would most likely still be intact today. Of course, even I haven't always known many of these things, but now I do, and so do you if you're reading and share this info with others
And Now Finally - Canary Pines recovering in San Gabriel Mountains - Photo by science writer Charlie Hohn
|image by Charlie Hohn - San Gabriel Mtns|
Some further reading References on Canary Islands
Canopy transpiration of a semi arid Pinus canariensis forest at a treeline ecotone in two hydrologically contrasting years
Now some references of interesting note, biological soil crusts - Desert & Boreal Forest
I actually wrote two posts about these. One for the common biological soil crusts in desert regions which are most talked about and second, I wrote about my observations about the same species of organism which inhabit forests, since the average person has a hard time appreciating Desert crusts. The organisms are the same [Lichens, Mosses, Fungi, Bacteria, etc], but display mere epigenetic changes in how the function & have progressed within a woodland environment. Brace yourself here -> Desert Biological Crusts are patiently waiting for the system to improve and provide a foundation for the success of higher lifeforms. Soil Crusts were the foundation lifeforms on Ascension Island which made the larger plants a success. Deal with it!
Links I made reference to in the above post:
Should Firefighters be expected to save Homes which are located in fire trap geography and where the owner cared less about landscape hygiene ?
Collective Scientific Genius: "Incapable of Identifying Weather Mechanisms Through the Cloud Forest" !!!
UC Santa Barbara: "New Study Links Clouds to Microbial Processes in Soil for First Time –– and Shows Ways that Climate Change Could Affect Entire Forest Ecosystems "
Finally, References regarding biological influences on cloud Formation & Rainfall and some technical innovation which can speed the process up.
Groasis Waterboxx: Desert Greening, Root Infrastructure Development, Water Savings, Teaching Kids Nature, etc, etc, etc
|Illustration - Groasis.com|