Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta)
There is one tree in particular whose occurrence
in the park is nearly general, except upon the highest peaks. This
is the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) that, in various
regions, is known under the name of black pine, scrub pine,
tamarack, and jack pine. This wanderer is equally at home from the
glaciers of Alaska to southern California and from the sand dunes of
the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains.
In central and southern Oregon vast stands of
pure lodgepole pine occur, covering high sandy plateaus and steep
mountain slopes alike with a thick forest of small poles. In other
places it creeps in among its larger brethren, the sugar pine,
yellow pine, and fir, and is content in forming an under story
beneath their taller crowns.
Lodgepole (fig. 9) is the only Pacific coast pine
that invariably bears its needles in clusters of two. The harsh,
slightly curved needles are about 2 inches long, bright yellow
green, and thickly clothe the outer portion of the slender twigs.
The small prickly cones are wonderfully persistent, and often cling
to the branches for many years without liberating their tiny seeds.
Sixty feet is an average height for this tree, and it rarely exceeds
a diameter of 20 inches. In dense forests the slender trunks,
clothed with reddish-brown checked bark, carry open, rounded, or
slender cylindrical crowns.
Fig. 9—Lodgepole pine (Pinus
contorta) 60 inches in diameter.
Dense stands of lodgepole pine are sadly ravaged
by bark beetles and fire, against which their thin bark offers
little protection. The timber over thousands of acres has been
killed by these causes, but owing to the great vitality of the seed
and the fact that much of it is liberated after the trees are dead,
the stand is soon replaced by a dense growth of seedlings. It also
has replaced other species over immense areas denuded by early
Lodgepole pine does not yet claim much attention
in the lumber industry, as only about 1 per cent of the total lumber
cut is made up of this timber. The long clean trunks produced in
dense stands are growing in favor for posts, poles, and ties, and
the species is particularly valuable for watershed protection in
many dry regions unfavorable for other trees.
From Fort Klamath to Crater Lake lodgepole pine
will be seen in abundance, at some places in dense pole thickets,
but more often mixed among other species. Lodgepole pine is one of
the trees in the forest background that sets off to such advantage
the carved walls and pillars of the wonderful Anna Creek Canyon.
Within the park and below the western entrance persistent growths of
this tree climb from the lower moraine-littered slopes up to the
very rim of the crater. Wherever it occurs it is much the same
cheerful, hardy tree, adapting itself to dry pumice sands and wet
marsh borders alike, and doing more than its share in forming the
forest cover over vast areas in the higher mountain regions.