Nature Notes

Vol. V August 1st, 1927 Summer Season No. 5


The "silver forest" of "ghost trees", through which the Longmire-Paradise road winds, is the result of a forest fire many years ago. The trees were scorched and killed but the wood was not charred. The bare trunks have stood for year, and have weathered to a silver-gray.

On July 26 an object-lesson in the formation of ghose trees was presented to the guests at Paradise Valley. Someone, toasting marshmallows, left his fire burning. Soon a pillar of smoke was winding up from the hillsides, and before that little fire burned itself out, half a dozen new ghost trees had been created. Just because a tree is surrounded by snow is no reason for believing that it will not burn. Alpine firs have thin and pitchy bark, and the needles of all conifers burn like tinder. Ghost trees have a certain beauty, but are there not enough of them in the park already?

By S. B. Jones-Ranger Naturalist.


Since the announcement in Nature News for July 11, 1927, of the finding of an eight-petalled avalanche lily, three other freak flowers have been noticed by naturalists. One of these was a four-petalled lily. This and the eight-petalled flower fade into insignificance before an avalanche lily discovered last week. The new find is almost a quadruple lily. It has twenty-one petals. It is growing by the trail to Fairy Pond, a few hundred feet from the Naturalists' Cabin. We have fenced it in for protection, and plan to watch for its possible reappearance in future years.

The third sport is a double anemone, found in two places, farther along the Fairy Pond trail and on the switchback trail below Golden Gate.


The annual rainfall, including melted snow, at Paradise Valley is upward of one-hundred inches. This easy generalization means nothing to the flowers. Some of our wild flowers live in the tropical dampness which a rainfall of one-hundred inches would lead one to expect. The marsh marigold and the shooting star are such. But other flowers, growing close by the former, perhaps, are practically living in the desert. One of these is called stonecrop. As the name suggests, it appears to be living on bare rock. So scanty is the soil that stonecrop has had to develop its own reservoir for water, being unable to depend upon soil water as most plants do. This it has done by evolving fleshy leaves. Another plant which has these leaf-reservoirs is Tolmie's saxifrage, growing in the rocks at high altitudes. This trick of growing a fleshy reservoir is, of course, that of the cactus, only in the cactus it is the stem which is fleshy, not the leaf. The spines of the cactus are its leaves.

By S. B. Jones-Ranger Naturalist.

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