SUCCESSION OF FOREST GROWTHSby@scientificamerican

SUCCESSION OF FOREST GROWTHS

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The following is from an address delivered by Mr. Robert Douglas before the Association of American Nurserymen at the meeting in Chicago recently. It is the prevailing and almost universal belief that when native forests are destroyed they will be replaced by other kinds, for the simple reason that the soil has been impoverished of the constituents required for the growth of that particular tree or trees. This I believe to be one of the fallacies handed down from past ages, taken for granted, and never questioned. Nowhere does the English oak grow better than where it grew when William the Conqueror found it at the time he invaded Britain. Where do you find white pines growing better than in parts of New England where this tree has grown from time immemorial? Where can you find young redwoods growing more thriftily than among their giant ancestors, nearly or quite as old as the Christian era? The question why the original growth is not reproduced can best be answered by some illustrations. When a pine forest is burned over, both trees and seeds are destroyed, and as the burned trees cannot sprout from the stump like oaks and many other trees, the land is left in a condition well suited for the germination of tree seeds, but there are no seeds to germinate. It is an open field for pioneers to enter, and the seeds which arrive there first have the right of possession. The aspen poplar (Populus tremuloides) has the advantage over all other trees. It is a native of all our northern forests, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Even fires cannot eradicate it, as it grows in moist as well as dry places, and sprouts from any part of the root. It is a short-lived tree, consequently it seeds when quite young and seeds abundantly; the seeds are light, almost infinitesimal, and are carried on wings of down. Its seeds ripen in spring, and are carried to great distances at the very time when the ground is in the best condition for them. Even on the dry mountain sides in Colorado, the snows are just melting and the ground is moist where they fall.
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