Observation Highlight of the Week: Pinus pungens

Observational Highlight #7: Pinus pungens (Table Mountain Pine)
Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve

© Michael J. W. Carr, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

Hello again everyone!

This week's observational highlight is a shameless, self-observation from yours truly, @mjwcarr.

While many of us may have difficulty in confidently identifying members of the genus Pinus, it is reasonable considering the diversity of species found within the D. C. Metropolitan area. These pines include many commercially managed species, such as loblolly, shortleaf, white, and Virginia pine, in addition to several other local species like the black, pitch, and, of course, the table mountain pine. This rich diversity provides those visiting the preserve an approachable opportunity to develop tree identification skills, even during the winter!

Those visiting our public southern trails can find easily accessible examples of loblolly pines along the roadside near the parking lot!

The Table Mountain pine, highlighted here, is an extraordinary species of Pinus that occurs at high elevation habitats typically associated with the Shenandoah Mountains. The Bull Run Mountains share a similar plant community type to the ridges of the Shenandoah given that it stands as the easternmost front of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Given the approximately 20-mile gap between the Bull Run and Blue Ridge, the table mountain pines at Bull Run have been isolated for long enough to represent their own distinct population!

But how do we identify it?

Well, that's a good question! For many of us amateur naturalists, we know some of the most helpful units for identification are the needles and cones. For table mountain and Virginia pines, needles grow in groups of two. This is helpful for ruling out white (whose needles grow in groups of 5) and Loblolly (which grow in groups of 3), both are common pines in Virginia. For more specific identification, table mountain pine needles are considerably more robust and slightly short than Virginia pine. The profile of the table mountain pine is also significantly more robust. Finally, the cones of the table mountain pine are numerous in their clumping, sometimes contain 4 or more cones grouped closely together.

Interested in hearing more? Click here to learn from Virginia Tech Dendrology!

ABOUT #BullRunMountainsNaturalPreserve
The Bull Run Mountains are the easternmost mountains in Virginia. Virginia Outdoors Foundation - Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve is approximately 2,350 acres that serve as a living laboratory that sits in the backyard of our nation’s capital. The preserve contains 10 different plant community types and a plethora of regionally uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. In 2002, this land was dedicated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as a natural area preserve to protect the unique ecosystems found here. As the owner and manager of the preserve, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is committed to protecting the special ecosystem found here and sharing it with the public through managed access.

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Meetup Events: Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes Group

Publicado el enero 29, 2021 09:00 TARDE por mjwcarr mjwcarr


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