Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, November 11, 2016

Brookings, Part IV: Alfred A. Loeb State Park

I'm moving on from the cultivated areas of Brookings to the more wild scenery of the surrounding area. Personally, I tend to favor natural beauty over even the most stunning gardens, and it's these areas that I now fear for most in the coming administration. Luckily, state parks aren't likely to be affected much, but I do worry about our national parks. They don't just exist for all of us today. They exist for the generations to come, as well as for the plants and animals that live here, which too many people tend to forget. This is not our world. We just live here.

Enough preaching, though. Let's move on to the scenery.

A brief description of the park taken from the Oregon State Parks website:
"Your first impression of Loeb may well be the fresh scent of the myrtlewood forest ... a crisp, eucalyptus-like fragrance.  The park is nestled in a grove of these lovely trees, many of which are well over 200 years old.  The pristine Chetco River runs clean and clear along the southeast edge of the park."

I wish I had taken a picture of the sign describing the myrtlewood grove there, too. Photos of the trees themselves will have to suffice. The description above is absolutely true regarding the fragrance of the myrtle trees. It permeates the air and was the first thing I noticed upon exiting my car. I breathed deep and enjoyed the simple contentment of the fragrant air.
Ironically, the first picture I took in this myrtle grove was of a big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), but it was such a unique tree I had to photograph it.
 Umbellularia californica goes by many common names, including myrtlewood, Oregon myrtle, and California bay. By any name, it's a unique and beautiful tree that can grow in very interesting ways. This structure appears to be the result of one tree falling into another and merging with it.

As the two trees grew, their wood overlapped and merged. You can see how the trunk of the leaning tree is smaller on the left and larger on the right. The portion on the right is benefiting from extra energy provided by the tree it's leaning on. Meanwhile, the leaning tree produced new upright branches closer to its base, as seen in the previous photo.

The park is so lush and verdant. And quiet. The only sounds were that of the river running alongside it, the wind in the trees above, and the occasional call of a bird or patter of a falling drop of water.

The canopy of primarily broad leaf evergreens (myrtlewood and tanbark oak) was so different from the forests I'm familiar with, primarily Douglas fir and other conifers, with big-leaf maple and red alder here and there, but the understory was comfortingly familiar. Though I don't usually see such dense and large swaths of Oxalis oregana in my area.

The unfamiliar canopy held me prisoner to wonder. I gaped in wonder and awe at every new view. This myrtlewood was majestically imposing, with its tall, straight trunks towering overhead.

The bark hosts whole miniature, vertical forests.

A massive triple-trunked myrtlewood covered in adventitious shoots.

I love moss-covered trees. The drapery of green here almost rivals that of the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula.

The moss doesn't trail quite as long as that of the rainforests to the north, nor does it grow as thickly, but I was soon to discover something about it that made it just as special to me.

Before that, though, I saw this enormous tanbark oak. It dwarfed the trees around it.

But I was soon to see larger trees. This was my first hint that I was approaching the northern redwoods, though when I went back to the parking lot I would see that I had passed several while looking in different directions.

This rough-skinned newt wanted nothing to do with my paparazzi ways.

Back to that glorious green covering the trees. There was moss and licorice fern everywhere, of course, but what I didn't notice until I took a closer look. The lushest of the coverings were composed of club moss!

Why was this so exciting to me? Well, because I'm a plant geek, that's why. But before, I had only seen club mosses growing terrestrially. I hadn't seen any epiphytic types before. Club mosses resemble moss in appearance, but are more complex plants and more closely related to ferns. It's just a new component in the epiphytic community of the PNW from what I'm familiar with, all mosses, licorice fern, and lichens. Apart from my plant geekiness, it also just has a different texture and general visual effect than the epiphytic mosses I'd seen before.

The cover of myrtlewood, tanbark oak, and western hemlock opened up to frame this big-leaf maple reaching out over the river with its golden fall foliage.

I finally noticed one of the living redwoods. There aren't that many in this park, but just up the North Bank Road is a short trail through the northernmost natural stand of redwoods. I found that out the next day, and I'll cover that walk in another post.

Another shot of myrtlewood. I love how it's hanging out over the trail and has sent up all those new upright shoots.

Walking back to the parking lot and campground area, I went down to the river and just enjoyed the water and the forest.

I always look at the rocks when I visit places like this. There were many fascinating shapes, colors, and textures, but my favorite was this one, shaped and colored like a little rainbow mountain.

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I wish I could teleport there and stay a while.

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    Replies
    1. I could go back right now and just soak it all in. The woods at home seem flat and almost lifeless in comparison.

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  2. That moss! Those trees! I could almost smell the fragrant air.

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  3. To your sermon and I say Amen!
    Those mossy ferns are a sight to behold. Why couldn't they grow in the woods by your house?
    I have to admit to taking small rocks home with me from different trips... Its hard to say what size is the rainbow rock you are showing, but if it could fit in my pocket...
    The trees framing the river is an gorgeous photo!

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