Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Lives of Trees

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Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Lives of Trees

The essential idea in the book is that the forest is a community of trees whose members care for one another rather than compete for water and canopy space.  Wohlleben states his case early on: “A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.”

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23 of Our Trees Were Cut Down: What Now?

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23 of Our Trees Were Cut Down: What Now?

We lost 23 trees last week. They were saplings, planted only months ago. They were yew pines, chinese fringes. Their holes were dug by more than one hundred volunteers and led by AmeriCorps members. They were bought with money provided by San Jose, by Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio. They were grown in our nursery, tended to by our volunteers, by school groups and dedicated AmeriCorps members. These trees took time, effort and cooperation to raise. They took money, community investment and muscle to put into the ground. They took dedication to tend on our weekly watering runs. In a way, these trees were representations of us, as a community. If they had been allowed to continue growing they would have provided shade, flowers and air-cleaning to a hot and busy street. 

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Valley Carpenter Bees: Big, Beautiful Thieves

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Valley Carpenter Bees: Big, Beautiful Thieves

Imagine that you’re a honey bee (Apis spp.) that has left your hive in search of nectar. After a short flight, you have found it: a beautiful sage flower, full of sweet nectar. You zero in on your flower. A deep buzz comes from your right. You see a black object twice your size fly right by and land on the flower you had set your simple-heart-tube on. That object was your distant cousin, a female Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) and your cousin is very important to the pollination of native plants. 

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Why is Everything Named Humboldt?

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Why is Everything Named Humboldt?

What’s the first thing you think of when I say Humboldt? If you’re from California you could be thinking of the countycollegebayfortstate park or wildlife refuge. If you’re from Nevada you might think of the river, the national forestwildlife areasinksaltmarshlake, mountain rangescounty or creepy ghost townDewy-Humboldt in Arizona, Humboldt IllinoisHumboldt KansasHumboldt IowaHumboldt OhioHumboldt WisconsinHumboldt Saskatchewan, it’s hard to escape Humboldt. Humboldt is everywhere. The Humboldt name graces multiple mountains and mountain ranges, forestsnational parkswaterfallsglaciersan ocean current. and a giant sinkhole Animals and plants including, penguins, squid, bat, monkey(s), skunk, snail, an entire genus of flowering plants, legumes, endangered cactus, a beetle, river dolphins, a carnivorous plant, oak, orchid, lily and mushroom all bear his name. Humboldt is in outer space, the Mare Humboldt on the moon and two asteroids bear the name. That doesn’t even touch the organizationsinstitutions, monuments and other random things that are all called Humboldt.

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Coral Root: Parasite in the Redwood Forest

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Coral Root: Parasite in the Redwood Forest

The orchid family, Orchidaceae is enormous, containing 28,000 species. That’s just slightly more species than the population of Monterey, California. The species count does not include the 100,000 or so cultivars that have been bred by humans. California has only 31 native orchids (most of them live in the tropics). I didn’t realize that I had seen my first one.

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The Destroyer of Plants

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The Destroyer of Plants

A field of  tomatoes wilts. A stand of tanoak trees dies. A forest of bay laurels and manzanita withers. An orchard of citrus yellows and decays. A wildland restoration project crumbles into dust. Potatoes turn rancid and spongy. These are the calling cards of Phytophthora, the destroyers of plants

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Growing and Taming the Matijila Poppy

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Growing and Taming the Matijila Poppy

Five feet tall, and half a foot wide, a white flower with bright gold stamens in the center, loomed over the nursery path. Since moving from Michigan four months ago, I had yet to see a plant that really blew me away. 

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Rivers of Trees in the Urban Forest

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Rivers of Trees in the Urban Forest

In their natural state riparian corridors are rich in vegetation and wildlife. A presentation by the the Santa Clara Water District states that “native plants are ecologically best suited to the creek environment.”  Plants and wildlife benefit from the sediment and organic material that streams transport and deposits on their banks. In this way, soil is enriched, erosion offset, and aquifers replenished.  Native plants and aquatic life are adapted to seasonal variances in river flow, including annual flooding.  As F. Thomas Griggs writes, “Cottonwood and willows, as well as all other riparian plant species, are directly dependent on patterns of sediment erosion and deposition.”  

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What is Our City Forest?

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What is Our City Forest?

Our City Forest is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a green and healthy Silicon Valley by engaging the community in the protection, growth and maintenance of our urban ecosystem, with special focus on our urban forest.

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Book Review: INTRODUCTION TO WATER IN CALIFORNIA, 2nd Edition 2015

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Book Review: INTRODUCTION TO WATER IN CALIFORNIA, 2nd Edition 2015

"We might, of course, continue the historic pattern of using water policy to facilitate growth.  In the long term, then, effects on the environment and on our quality of life would worsen, despite our best efforts at habitat and species protection, and despite concepts like ‘smart growth.’  Never-ending growth, whether smart or dumb, will inevitably overtake the limits of California’s water system."

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