POTD: They Died With Their Boots On

POTD: They Died With Their Boots OnThey Died With Their Boots On
Yellowstone National Park, Montana

I don’t know why it seems so strange to me to see a dead conifer, in this case a dead fir tree, with its cones still intact. I suppose that’s quite common but it still comes across as odd.

5 thoughts on “POTD: They Died With Their Boots On”

  1. I agree Larry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dead conifer with cones still hanging from it. Maybe the way the tree died (fire vs flood) created that phenomenon?

    1. Thanks Kathy, you know I love a high contrast image! As far as cause of death, I’m guessing it was disease–struck down in the prime of life by the pesky spruce bud worm.

  2. A cartoon from The New Yorker once had an older man and a boy walking thru the woods and the older gentleman lecturing the child ” Son, it’s good to know about trees, but no one ever made any big money knowing about trees”.
    I can’t tell from the photo if the cones are hanging down or standing upright on the branches. True firs, such as White fir or Subalpine fir, have upright cones, but the cone scales fall off early each winter – none of the cone remains intact. This is also true of Western Larch, which has the added feature of all it’s needles shed in the fall and it is mostly bare in the winter. The Douglas-fir, which is not a true fir (pseudotsuga menziesii) nor a hemlock (tsuga) keeps it’s cones if the tree dies during and shortly after cone development. I don’t believe there are w. hemlocks as far south as Yellowstone.
    Some pines (particularly lodgepole) will hold it’s cones even after death for some years- waiting for optimum conditions to open and scatter seeds. Other conifers (pines, spruces and hemlocks) also may have persistent cones until new cones develop often from 2 to 8 year intervals. I’ve procrastinated enough, gotta go shovel snow now.

    1. Steve, I was hoping/expecting you might chime in here. I was thinking those trees were Doug-fir but in zooming in on the original image, the cones I’m not so sure. They were still hard to make out even zoomed in but they looked to be more globular than typical Doug-fir cones (which I always think take more of a pointed cylinder shape). The cones did not seem to all be upright or point down either one. In many cases, they were positioned in pairs on opposite sides of the branch. Since I took that photo, I’ve noticed a number of other similar looking trees also dead with cones in other areas around here. So they are not as unusual as I had been thinking.

      As far as the cartoon goes, I suppose Friedrich Weyerhäuser and family would be exceptions to that rule.

      From what I hear, you’d best pace yourself shoveling snow as you’re going to be getting much more of it shortly. No such forecast this far north.

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