5/30/2011

A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization

5000 years of the Wood Age

John Perlin's, "A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization," is book of epic proportions. This monumental story does justice to both the beauty, and the importance of trees. In it, Perlin weaves together a 5000 year history of the Wood Age, as well as the history of greed, selfishness, and hubris that accompanied it.

The availability of wood has affected civilization from the start. There is some question as to whether civilization would even be possible without trees. Perlin would say it is not. Tragically, the planet's forests would have been enough to meet everyone's needs, within environmental limits.

Unfortunately, civilization has never recognized limits of any kind. Repeated waves of forest over-exploitation, followed by erosion and loss of soil, then heavy silting of waterways and harbours, caused cycles of unbelievable wealth and luxury, followed by environmental collapse and abandonment. Perlin records the peaks and troughs from Mesopotamia to 18th century America.

Even 5000 years ago, the Mesopotamian writers of Gilgamesh knew that once civilization gained access to the deep, dark, primeval forest, trees would never be safe again. This proved to be true as Gilgamesh entered the cedar forest, "abode of the gods", and started the war on forests which has continued to this very day. Mesopotamian cedar forests were replaced with agriculture, which was followed by reduced soil productivity, famine, and the desertification that we are familiar with today.

Forest Journey describes how forests across the ages were transformed into fuel for industry, from smelting to glass-making. Vast amounts of wood were also required for firing pottery and making bricks. Seemingly endless global forests were the source of timber for shipbuilding, which for centuries was the main pathway to wealth and power. For this reason, repeated efforts to curb forest exploitation (starting 5000 years ago) were met with threats and death.

In the Wood Age trees were the primary energy resource and building material, and empires crumbled as their sources of timber disappeared. Parallels for us as deforestation continues unabated, and as we reach Peak Oil simultaneously, are obvious.

A Forest Journey is a good read with a good message - our forests are critically important, and as we destroy them, we destroy ourselves.

"The American Colossus was fiercely intent on appropriating and exploiting the riches of the richest continents - grasping with both hands, reaping where he had not sown, wasting what he had thought would last forever. At long last, however, the reaction began, and lovers of their country, bewailing its baldness, are now crying aloud, 'Save what is left of the forests!'" - Gifford Pinchot, 1890

5/29/2011

Langford Lake

Tall trees at the boat launch end of Langford Lake Park/Ed Nixon Trail

Langford lake is a glacial kettle lake, a depression found in moraines, which are landforms made up of glacial rock debris. When the last glaciers melted 10,000 years ago and drew away from this area, huge blocks of ice broke off and were covered by earth and rock. As the blocks melted, the ground above them subsided, forming kettles. When these filled with water lakes were formed.


Wetland area on Ed Nixon Trail
Langford Lake's watershed is in scenic rolling and undulating forest-covered hills. Although development is rapidly encroaching, the lake still has a small strip of Coastal Douglas-fir forest on its shores. The forested area, and a few big trees, can be accessed via the Ed Nixon Trail, a two kilometer trail over varied terrain, including extensive boardwalk passing over sensitive, shallow wetland areas of the lake.



Two of the biggest Douglas-fir along the Ed Nixon Trail at Langford Lake

From the boat launch park there is some boardwalk before the wide, graveled trail begins. After crossing through shrubby wetland of skunk cabbage, spirea, sedges, willow, and grasses, the trail enters the forest. There are some huge Douglas-fir, along with Western red-cedar taking advantage of the cool, wet location. Along the trail one can also see many large Arbutus, including some large trees in a small grove.

Big Douglas-fir rising up into the sky




At the 1 kilometer mark there is a side trail across a very nice small peninsula covered in trees, including some large Black cottonwood. At the end there is a picnic table, small fishing dock, and an outhouse (during the summer months). In the spring the fragrant smell of the cottonwood's resinous buds provides a sweet, distinctive backdrop to your hike.







Black cottonwoods on lake shore
Getting There

From Veterans Memorial Parkway turn onto Goldstream Avenue heading west. Turn left onto Leigh Road, just past Spencer Middle School. Follow Leigh Road to the parking lot at the end of the street.

There are picnic tables, a boat launch, wheelchair accessible outhouse, and parking. The Ed Nixon trail begins past the boat launch, and extends for 2 kilometers to a small parking lot at the other end.


View Langford Lake Park/Ed Nixon Trail in a larger map

5/26/2011

What Is A Tree Worth?

It depends who you ask...


People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people.
-- Bryce Nelson

Give me a land of boughs in leaf, a land of trees that stand; where trees are fallen there is grief; I love no leafless land.
-- A.E. Housman

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
-- Bill Vaughan
 
By means of trees, wildlife could be conserved, pollution decreased and the beauty of our landscapes enhanced. This is the way, or at least one of the ways, to spiritual, moral, and cultural regeneration.
-- E.F. Schumacher 

The forests are the flags of nature. They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feeling. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some time an immortal pine will be the flag of a united and peaceful world.
-- Enos A. Mills 

5/24/2011

Giant Sequoia Seeds Are Not Giant

Giant sequoia cone opening and dropping seeds
While pausing in the shade of a tall, red-barked Giant sequoia in downtown Victoria, I stooped to pick up a small cone from the grass. I marveled that these trees are here at all, since they are native to only a small area of California along the coast. But growing conditions on southern Vancouver Island favour these amazing trees, and Victoria has many excellent examples spread about town.

General Sherman, Giant sequoia,
largest tree on earth





The sequoia is the largest tree species in the world, but there is nothing giant about their cones - sequoia cones are only 4-7 cm long, and the seeds that fall out of them are tiny.


The seed is dark brown, 4-5 mm long and 1 mm broad, with a 1 mm wide yellow-brown wing along each side. So small is this little packet of potential that it barely covers the head of the loon on the loony (Canadian one dollar coin).




The cones mature in 18-20 months, though they typically remain green and closed for up to 20 years; each cone has 30-50 spirally arranged scales, with several seeds on each scale giving an average of 230 seeds per cone. When the cones mature they turn brown, and before they open they look like little turds.

Some seed is shed when the cone scales open during hot weather in late summer. Seeds are also dispersed when the cone dries out from fire and/or insect damage.

Giant sequoia along Gorge Road, Victoria
Giant Sequoia is a very popular ornamental tree in many areas, including western and southern Europe, the Pacific Northwest to southwest British Columbia, southeast Australia, New Zealand and central-southern Chile. It is also grown, though less successfully, in parts of eastern North America.

Giant sequoia grow to an average height of 50-85 m (150-280 ft) and 5-7 m (16-23 ft) in diameter, so don't plant them too close to your house. Record trees have reached 93.6 m (307 ft) in height, and 8.85 m (29 ft) in diameter. The oldest known Giant Sequoia based on ring count is 3,200 years old.

The oldest sequoia in the Victoria region, brought north as saplings by early settlers from California, is probably not even 200 years old. But that does not mean that they are not big. Image what they will be like if they are allowed to live another 3000 years.
Find out more about viewing Giant sequoia in the Victoria area here.

5/23/2011

Local Big Tree Sights

Big Douglas-fir, Francis King Park

With gas prices at record highs, we have been taking fewer back country and longer distance field trips to see trees. Luckily, from pretty much anywhere in the south island area it is possible to ride a bike, walk, or drive a short distance to see beautiful specimens. In the rich, mild coastal environment big trees grow everywhere.

In this post I will share some of my favourite local big tree tours that I return to often to experience the sensation of being in a lush, and rare, old growth forest, or just to stand next to a single big tree left over from the old days.

Note: this information, and more, is available in the See Them page.

So save gas (and the atmosphere), and be with some of the biggest trees around, right here on southern Vancouver Island.


Victoria Area
Native Tree Species

    1.    Francis King Regional Park (some of the biggest trees closest to Victoria, including one on the B.C. Big Tree Registry - largest Douglas-fir in the CRD)
    2.    Beacon Hill Park (designated Heritage Tree Status)
    3.    Thetis Lake
    4.    Royal Roads/DND Lands (Urban big trees in Colwood, including the 2nd and 3rd largest Douglas-firs in the CRD)
    5.    Goldstream Park (very accessible old growth 16 km from downtown Victoria)
    6.    East Sooke Road/East Sooke Park (along East Sooke Rd. is one of the biggest Western red-cedar in the CRD)
   7.     Ardmore Golf Course (Saanich - massive Douglas-firs)
   8.    Witty's Lagoon Beach parking lot (Metchosin)
   9.    Royal Colwood Golf Club (has the most extensive collection of varied-age Douglas-fir and Garry oak forest in an urban setting)
  10.   Victoria Area Arbutus (Arbutus are coast-hugging, broad-leafed, evergreen trees. They are abundant in parks and urban areas. The largest is found on Thetis Island, one of the Gulf Islands)

Non-native Tree Species

   1. Beacon Hill Park (Heritage Tree Site: many exotic trees such as Giant sequoia)
   2. Victoria Area (Urban Giant sequoia of huge proportions)


Sooke Area
Fat Douglas-fir, Phillips Road, Sooke
    1.    Sooke River Road/Galloping Goose Trail
    2.    Sooke Potholes Park 
    3.    Sunriver Park - Phillips Road
    3.    Matheson Lake Regional Park
    4.    Humpback Road (near Goldstream Park in Langford, a nice addition to a drive or hike in the park)
    5.    Muir Creek (threatened by logging) - west of Sooke
    6.    Roche Cove Regional Park (the map in this post has directions to big Douglas-fir and Arbutus in a shore line area of this beautiful park)
    7.    Juan de Fuca Provincial Park - China Beach 
    8.   French Beach - nice, older second growth forest with lots of Sitka spruce
    9.   Chin Beach Trail Lone Cedar - grows on the Juan de Fuca Rural Resource Lands west of Sooke, 13 km past China Beach parking lot.

Enjoy our local trees. See them, save them.

5/18/2011

Flowering Douglas-fir

Douglas-fir: branching pattern, overall form, and male/female flowers

Most of the conifers of the Pacific coastal forest are monoecious (mon-EEE-shus), meaning they have both male and female flowers on the same tree. Unlike dioecious (die-EEE-shus) trees, which have to find a date with an opposite sex tree (via the wind) before they are pollinated, many of the conifers on the coast can self-fertilize.


Female flowers will develop into seed
cones by the end of the season




Some examples of dioecious trees (male and female flowers on different trees) in the coast forest are Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia).






The coast has been having one of the coldest springs on record. This has delayed growth of most trees, and everything seems a few weeks behind right now. But the weather can only slow growth down, not stop it altogether.



The bright red-pink flowers of the Douglas-fir are hard to miss, and you can see the form of the finished hard, brown cone beginning to develop. Aided by the wind, the small male pollen sacks on the tree will fertilize the cones so they produce seeds.





Douglas-fir only has a good seed crop every 5 to 7 years. "Previous vegetative growth and cone crops affect the cone productivity in subsequent years and help explain the cyclic pattern of reproduction in Douglas fir." This long lived tree (up to 1500 years) does not even reach maximum seed production until trees reach old growth status, about two or three hundred years old.

Male pollen flowers
Douglas-fir seeds are a major food source for several creatures. In late July or early August squirrels frequently cut a few Douglas-fir cones and then tear them to pieces, leaving piles of cone scales. They continue their sampling until the seeds mature, then begin the harvest that will see them through to spring.

Professional cone collectors can assess a forest stand's cone maturity by watching the squirrels. When the squirrels start harvesting, so do the humans.

5/16/2011

Forests Are The Lungs Of The World


"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air
and giving fresh strength to our people."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

5/14/2011

Pioneering Soil-Enhancer: Red Alder

Red alder grows in pure stands, as shown, or in mixed forest settings

Red alder (Alnus rubra) is the most common deciduous tree in the Pacific coast forest. It is not a long-lived tree (usually about 60 yrs, rarely over 100), and despite rapid growth while young, these trees never reach (40 m/131 ft) the sizable proportions of the conifer stands surrounding them. However, the Red alder possesses a capacity that no other tree on the coast has.

Red alder is the only tree west of the Rockies capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen. Red alder develops an extensive, fibrous root system, with root nodules that fix nitrogen from the air. The nodules are a symbiotic association between the tree and actinomycete, a large group of bacteria that are responsible for the characteristic "earthy" smell of freshly turned, healthy soil.

Male flowers are long, drooping, reddish catkins, and female flowers
are short, woody, brown cones.
In this 'everyone wins' relationship, nodules are formed where bacteria infect a growing root. Then the alder supplies carbon compounds to the bacteria, and the bacteria convert nitrogen from air into a form the tree can use.

When leaves or roots from the host plant decompose, available nitrogen increases resulting in richer soil and better growing conditions. There is evidence that this relationship is so beneficial to the alder that its roots produce a substance that encourages the bacteria to set up shop. Alder is also associated with mycorrhizal fungi which helps enhance nitrogen fixation.

Alder along Carmanah River, Carmanah Park
After the soil bacteria community is established, Red alder seeds germinate well on freshly disturbed, nitrogen deprived land such as slide areas, road cuts, river flood plains, or clear cut areas that have had the slash burned. It is an aggressive pioneer species, and grows quickly as a seedling in wet soils.

Height growth of the Red alder seedling can be as much as 1 m (3.3 ft) or more in the first year. Giving the Black cottonwood a run for its money, maximum annual height growth of more than 3 m (9.8 ft) a year can be achieved by 2- to 5-year-old alder seedlings. Indeed, after the Black cottonwood, the Red alder is the second fastest growing tree in the coastal forest.

Associated conifers have much slower juvenile growth, but they sustain height growth years longer than alder. On an average site, both Douglas-fir and red alder can attain the same height at 45 years. Beyond that, Douglas-fir far surpasses Red alder in height. Once overgrown by the conifers during forest succession, the sun-loving red alder will die back, leaving a legacy of rich soil.

Red alder on their way for another season of nitrogen-fixing, soil-enriching growth
Besides its usefulness to soil quality, and its visual appeal, Red alder is also a commercially harvested species along the coast. It is used in the production of solid wood products, such as furniture, cabinets, case goods, and pallets; composite products, including plywood; and fiber-based products, such as tissue and writing paper. It is also used for firewood, and is the wood of choice for smoking salmon.

Although for a while Red-alder, like Black cottonwood, was seen as a nuisance tree and cut out of mixed stands, we are now realizing the soil-healing properties this tree has. Because it can increase soil nitrogen and organic matter, it is being increasingly used to rehabilitate disturbed sites, or prepare areas for conifers such as Douglas-fir.

The Red alder is an important part of the Pacific coast forest ecosystem. Look for them along streams and rivers, as well as lake shores. Disturbed sites will also have stands of alder pioneering the new forest. Watch for a medium-sized, deciduous broad-leaved tree with a narrow rounded crown, straight, slightly tapered stem, and smooth, light gray bark.

5/09/2011

The Chin Beach Trail Lone Cedar

Chin Beach Trail Cedar - old growth remnant surrounded by tiny trees
During my local big tree safaris I usually meet individual trees that are satisfyingly large. The Chin Beach Lone Cedar, along Highway 14 west of Sooke, BC, is one such tree. What makes this colossal Western red-cedar seem even more impressive is the fact that it is surrounded by much smaller, more recent trees. The Lone Cedar is an individual island of ancient in a sea of young upstarts.

Third growth trees

The Juan de Fuca Resource Land, where the tree in question grows, is a large industrial-focused area on south Vancouver Island. It is industrial, not wilderness, because resource extraction has been occurring here for a long time.


The Lone Cedar is located on coastal land that has been logged once or twice already. Although this tree is not protected in a park, it is close to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and the Juan de Fuca Trail, which do protect some old growth trees.


The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail has several unofficial trails leading to it from the Coast Highway (#14), west of Sooke. The trail to Chin beach is one of those. 10 minutes along this trail grows the Lone Cedar.


On the short hike to see this amazing holdout from the primal forest of old, one passes through a forest in several stages of succession. The trail first passes through small, tightly packed hemlock trees, more than likely third growth forest. Quickly the trail enters an area of larger trees that look more like second growth. Some of these are reaching a nice size. A few more steps, and the Lone Cedar looms into view.
Second growth




It is a Western red-cedar wall of wood that has been growing here since the beginning of the Empire of Charlemagne in the 800s. Aged, stringy reddish-grey bark covers the fluted trunk. In places the bark is covered in a stubble of moss.


The thickness of the bole rises up and disappears into the canopy above. At the right angle the candelabra top of the tree can be seen jutting into the sky. The multiple dead, grey spires form an impressive cathedral.


The Lone Cedar: a weathered old growth survivor with candelabra top

One wonders how any old growth trees survived the logging operations that have taken their contemporaries. It is not hard to imagine the primal forest, of which the Lone Cedar was a part. It was an integral member of a vast, gigantic, ancient forest system that cloaked the Pacific coast from Alaska to California.

No doubt these remnant cedars appreciate the small forest that is growing up to provide them with support. Lone trees left after logging are prone to blowing down in the next big wind, but these trees have survived countless storms that slam into this coastline every winter. Stand beside this tree, and feel its antiquity, its strength, and its ongoing life. It stands as a reminder of what once was.

Getting There

From Sooke, drive to China Beach (Juan de Fuca Provincial Park). Set your tripometer at the park entrance, and drive about 13 km further along the highway to the (unofficial, unmarked) Chin Beach trail head. Park well off the highway, and look for the flagging in the trees on the ocean side, marking the entrance to the forest. The flagging is the only indication that something special is here.

Hike about 10 minutes along the trail watching for the flagging tied to trees to help you navigate to the Lone Cedar. If you feel like hiking past the big trees, and making the beach your destination, the  trail continues down a steep gully for another 40 minutes and takes you to the Juna de Fuca Trail and Chin Beach.

A good reference to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is Giant Cedars, White Sands, by Donald C. Mills.



View Chin Beach Trail: The Lone Cedar in a larger map

5/05/2011

Parking In BC Provincial Parks Free Again

British Columbia has over 800 provincial parks. The parks system is celebrating 100 years of preservation this year, but due to massive budget cuts, there has been little to celebrate. A tiny crack in the bad news emerged recently.

For the past few years visitors have had to pay for parking in some BC parks, but no more.

The pay parking program was rescinded by the Liberal government this week, ushering in the return of free parking in some of British Columbia's favourite places.

I see it as one less hassle, one less barrier, to the enjoyment of our parks. Especially some of my favourite local south island big tree hangouts such as Sooke Potholes, Goldstream, French Beach, and Juan de Fuca. You can check out more parks here.

Cutting parking fees will not affect parks funding, most likely because the whole idea was a fiasco from the ill-conceived start. Pay parking was highly unpopular with the public. The meter boxes, often in remote locations, were repeatedly vandalized. Enforcement was a problem as well, again due to the scattered, remote locations. The program likely made little to no money.
    French Beach
    Parking fees, for some, were a disincentive when planning outings. It would not be a surprise to find that this was the goal when one considers the cuts to provincial park funding over the past decade.

    "The result of a decade of neglect is declining attendance. Park visits have dropped by 25 per cent since 1999 -a decline not seen in B.C.'s national parks. Parking meters installed in 42 popular parks have driven away millions of visitors." - Wilderness Committee  

    The government may not want visitors to see the lack of interpretive programs for school groups and park visitors. They were cut early on, denying critical educational opportunities these programs offered. They don't want visitors to see the lack of staff to prevent things like poaching. And not just for big game, like Big horn sheep.

    Sumallo Grove, Manning Provincial Park
    In the winter of 1996-97 poachers cut and carried away three ancient cedars growing in the Sumallo Grove, which can be found in Manning Provincial Park, two hours east of Vancouver.

    This old growth forest has the most impressive trees in all of Manning park, and is also distinguished as being the farthest eastern reach of the coastal rain forest in British Columbia. The three large cedar stumps can be seen as you pull into the parking lot.

    Since 1996, parks funding has been reduced by 20%, in spite of the system being larger today. I hope free parking is the beginning of our government's return to honouring its commitment to our environment, and parks, and its responsibility to citizens.

    Enjoy the parks and the free parking, then ask Premier Clark why this year's budget slashed another $650,000 as a gift for the 100th Anniversary of provincial parks in BC.

    5/02/2011

    Colossal Coastal Cottonwoods

    BC's Champion Black Cottonwood, Fraser River, R. Kelman
    Black cottonwoods (Populus balsamifera spp. trichocarpa) are the largest and tallest of the poplar family. I know these distinctive, broken-limbed, trees from my birthplace in southwestern Alberta. There at the end of the prairies, in the bottom lands of river valleys, grow centuries old, twisted cottonwoods. The trees are surrounded by collections of major limbs, broken off during strong winds or after heavy snowfalls.

    One of the rituals of the prairie spring was hiking in the river valley and smelling the sweet resinous buds of the cottonwoods opening. The buds contain a waxy resin with anti-infectant properties still used in many modern natural health ointments. Later, the mature cotton-like seeds coat the ground in such abundance that they look like snow.
    Cottonwoods near Lethbridge, AB
    Photo: Belle Hughes


    I often watched Great Horned Owls roosting on their favourite large cottonwood branches, and collected their bone-filled pellets at the base of the wide, grey trunks. But these prairie cottonwoods are small compared to those growing on the western end of their range on the BC coast.


    Range of The Black Cottonwood

    The prairie cottonwoods are at the eastern limit of their range.  This western species of broad-leafed deciduous tree inhabits coastal regions from Alaska to southern California, as well as western inland regions.
    Range of Black cottonwood

    Although cottonwoods are found throughout BC, they are rare on the outer coast of Vancouver Island, and all of Haida Gwaii. I do not commonly see them on my tree outings in the south island area, but if you know where to look they can be found.

    Champion Cottonwoods

    None of BC's champion cottonwoods are on Vancouver Island. The biggest cottonwoods in the province are on the Fraser river floodplain near the city of Vancouver. 6 out of the 10 largest recorded specimens in the province are on Skumalasph Island on the Fraser River close to Chilliwack.

    Conditions are particularly suited to these trees here since poplars enjoy seasonal flooding, a mild climate, heavy nutrient load from salmon runs, and a long growing season. In these primo conditions cottonwoods reach truly massive proportions.

    World's Largest Cottonwood, Fraser River, R. Kelman

    BC's current listed champion Black Cottonwood (BC Big Tree Registry) is found at the confluence of the Sumas and Fraser Rivers. It is noted as the world's biggest poplar, and its measurements are indeed impressive.

    Circumference: 11.92m/39.5ft
    Height: 39.01 m/128 ft
    Crown spread: 29.60 m/97ft
    AFA Points: 626

    This tree takes top spot in all measures except height, which is beaten by a champion cottonwood in the Skagit River Valley (two hours east of Vancouver along the US border). This beautiful specimen is 57.61m/189ft tall. The big trees here are protected in a 28,000 hectare provincial park.

    Cottonwood Ecosystems

    Cottonwoods require ample moisture and plenty of nutrients to grow well. They favour floodplains and rich, moist sites with plenty of light, and can also be found in open areas on lake shores.

    Leaves and seed pods
    Although mostly considered a weed by the logging industry, this amazing tree is an integral part of the watersheds it inhabits. Where it occurs on seasonally wetted alluvial islands and floodplains, the black cottonwood acts as a massive nutrient pump, drawing up and storing nutrient-rich water. They stabilize the ground on which they grow, and redistribute nutrients back to the land and water.

    Cottonwoods also provide important habitat for eagles as one of few trees that are large enough for eagles to use for nesting and perching. They are also used by cavity nesters such as Northern flickers. Bats roost under loose sheets of ancient, peeling bark on old, dead, standing trees. Bears den in their hollow trunks, sometimes a couple of meters off the ground.


    Mapping the Cottonwood Genome

    In 2006, the cottonwood became the first tree to have its genome mapped. This is a famously fast growing tree (up to 2m/6ft per year in young trees), and scientists hope to isolate the gene responsible. With this knowledge they plan on making fast growing Frankentrees to grow on mono-cropped fibre farms where our amazing, diverse forests used to be. Such trees are destined for 'sustainable' biofuel production.

    "Analyses suggest that one of the most efficient and sustainable methods of biofuel production will be harvesting the above ground portions of densely produced, fast-growing perennial energy crops such as poplar trees (Populus trichocarpa)."

    In a more progressive use of cottonwood genetics, scientists are experimenting with their petri-dish productions in order to grow trees that can clean contaminated industrial sites. Scientists hope to use the cottonwoods water pumping abilities to absorb toxins out of soil.

    Where to Find Black Cottonwood on Vancouver Island
     
    Black Cottonwoods, Langford Lake
    Black cottonwoods on Vancouver Island can be seen on river floodplains, especially along the east coast. Rivers such as the Puntledge or Tsolum rivers are good bets, as is the Oyster River, which reportedly has some impressive trees.

    On the south island, three are nice trees at Goldstream Provincial Park along the Goldstream River, particularly the 300 year old trees around the nature house next to where the river empties into the sea. Langford Lake also has some cottonwoods at various locations, including some that are accessible by public trail.

    Black cottonwood, Goldstream River
    Cottonwoods are normally about 30 m/60ft tall with greyish deeply furrowed bark. They have waxy leaves, sticky buds, hanging groups of seed pods, and puffy seeds that travel on the wind and in moving water. In the spring you can use your nose to follow the bud's sweet odour to find the trees. The trees distinctive odour can be detected up to 100 meters (300 ft) away.

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