Douglas fir grove abstract

This photo is an abstract impression of one of my favorite spots on our property, a small stand of Douglas firs that we call “the hammock grove”.  I wanted to convey the dream-like feeling I get amid these tall trunks, so I deliberately used camera motion and a slow shutter speed. (More photos below.)

The grove is bounded by trembling (quaking) aspens, black hawthorns and wild roses. With our hammocks strung between sturdy fir trunks and dappled light poking through the canopy, it’s a cool place to hang out on a hot summer afternoon.

Right now the aspens are bare, as you’ll see in one of the photos below. But soon they’ll leaf out, and in the summer they’ll move with the breeze in a near-constant dance of gold and green, high above our heads: a gentle clickety-clack percussion that soothes the soul. 

I recently learned that when the leaves of a tree move, they release negative ions, which is said to benefit our health and elevate our mood.  The effect is strongest with conifers; I’m guessing this is because a tree with a multitude of tiny needles, like a Douglas fir, has a considerably greater surface area than its deciduous cousin.

Conifer or not, a tree’s surface area is huge. To calculate it you must consider not only the visible parts – its trunk, its ridges and folds of bark, its branches, boughs, both sides of all of its leaves – but also the parts we don’t normally see: its long, complex network of tap roots, lateral roots and root hairs.

In this way, the total surface area of a 15-metre tree, when it’s in leaf, would cover 200 hectares. That’s a million times greater than the two square-meter surface area of an average human!

The value of trees, though, is so great that it’s likely beyond calculation. They provide habitat for 50% of the world’s biodiversity, and although people don’t live in them, we cannot live without them. They cool and humidify our atmosphere, remove heavy metals and other pollutants, and absorb and store vast quantities of carbon dioxide – helping to make it possible for us to live on this planet. They give us oxygen to breathe, wood to build our homes and furniture, fuel to keep us warm, medicines to heal our ailments, and all manner of edible fruits, nuts, seeds, berries and oils.

Not to mention those very positive negative ions!

Here’s a gallery of photos from our hammock grove. Click on any photo to enlarge and view as a slide show. If you wish to comment on a photo, click the “Permalink” button appears under it during the slide show.

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About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

11 responses »

  1. Wow really great job on these images Laurie. I love the abstracts of the Firs.

  2. Beautiful abstracts Laurie! So nice that you have this right on your own property to enjoy every day.

  3. ehpem says:

    Laurie, these vertical abstracts are stunning. Really well done 🙂
    I had not thought about the surface area of a tree before, at least not in those terms. It is interesting to quantify it like that, it says a lot about the “biomass” as well as about the sheer presence of a tree, or a forest of trees, and all those microenvironments for small life forms to cling and hide and tuck away and nest and live.

  4. Anita Mac says:

    I guess, with all that surface space and benefits to our health, that is why walking or skiing in the woods is always so uplifting! Beautiful collection of photos. Love the cone on the fir – it’s a gorgeous shot.

    • Thanks for visiting, Anita, and glad you like the photos. Douglas fir cones are fun. Years ago someone showed me an easy way to identify them: it’s as if they have little mice trying to get into them – if you look closely you’ll see what you can imagine as the back half of a mouse protruding from several spots along each row of the cone’s scales. I’ve never had a problem ID’ing them since then!

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