How some trees react to high winds.
1) Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas Fir
- The detritus lying on the ground following a wind event in the Pacific Northwest provides ample evidence of how P. menziesii defends itself against wind.
- The wood of P. menziesii is brittle and can snap. When a strong wind acts on a Douglas Fir, the tree sacrifices small pieces of foliage to shed the wind’s energy.
2) Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar
- In contrast to Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar limbs are fibrous and tenaciously strong. Long, bendable limbs whip and swing in the wind, but rarely break.
- The wind’s energy is transferred to the trunk and the cedar relies on its massive girth and extensive root system to keep it upright.
3) Populus trichocarpa Black Cottonwood
- In growth, P. trichocarpa sacrifices strength for speed.
- Just to the northwest of our Overlook Pond, a massive black cottonwood demonstrates how weak wood tends to shatter under stress.
4) Salix spp. Willow
- Often growing in wet bottomlands, the roots of willows can be shallow mats that are relatively easy to peel up when a strong wind levers a tall tree.
5) Acer macrophyllum Big Leaf Maple
- The wood of Acer macrophyllum is strong but heavy. The massive, reaching limbs can shatter mid-limb when wind pulls on the sail-like leaves.
- A recent example is located at the east end of Loderi Valley just above Arboretum Drive, although many of our big-leaf maples are festooned with “storm stubs.”