Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pine Cones

These Virginia Pine cones (Pinus virginiana) were found in a small meadow in the Blue Ridge Tract of Shannondale Springs WMA. I was up there this weekend for a walk before the weather gets too harsh. Here are a couple of pine cones from that trip. The left one had not fully opened up. The monochrome photos really bring out the sharp points along the cones.

The cones often stay on the tree for several years and sometimes don’t release their seeds until the second year.
Another name for Pinus virginiana is Scrub Pine or Jersey Pine. They grow well on poor, dry upland soil and are often used to reforest an area. I believe they were planted here for that purpose because I don’t see them throughout the area. They provide food for small mammals and birds as well as cover. You can click on the photo for larger views.

The needles are in pairs. I first learned to identify this conifer from the Naturalist at Cacapon State Park in WV. She said for our area you could remember that it was a Virginia Pine because when you held the base of the needle pair in your hand it formed a “V” for Virginia. But as I learned during my trip to Eastern Maryland this past summer you need to be careful because I found two leaf needles that are not Virginia Pine. The Loblolly Pines have two needles but they are much longer and not twisted like the Virginia variety.

The mature female cones are rather prickly as you can see from this photo taken in the same area in April earlier this year.

In the spring, its yellow male cones produce a lot of wind-blown pollen, to pollinate the female flowers or immature cones. This is what they looked like in April.

These needles had a blub like growth at the base. I suspect they are the beginnings of the male reproductive part but I am not certain. I haven't found anything about them yet but I am still searching.

I love these monochrome photos and you can see more at Monochrome Weekly by clicking here.


Ellen Rathbone said...

The cones remind me of all the cones I collected (and still have in a box somewhere) for my dendrology class in college. Isn't the variation in nature splendid? It never ceases to amaze.

squirrel said...

Ellen, I totally agree!

Anonymous said...

You are so right. The monochrome photos are excellent. I seem to remember the Fibonacci series from Architecture school. There is a pattern but with infinite variation in nature.


Love the first two monochromes - so 3-D, the second one in particular.

squirrel said...

awarewriter you are so right that is a Fibonacci example. My friend Trillium wrote about them in her blog at:
where I first heard of that concept. Cool I hadn't even noticed.

Margaret thank you for the nice compliment.