I’ve always found working in arboriculture an incredibly interesting industry, the passion that arborists feel for their environment is infectious. Although I am not an arborist; this keen interest in trees has me learning whenever I have the opportunity. Specifically, when I am traveling, anytime a tour guide starts giving me information about trees I listen and try to remember the facts that they share with me as a tourist. A lot of these species we don’t have in Alberta as we do not have the climate for it, but I find their stories very interesting and have remembered them through the years. The following are stories of the trees that can be encountered when traveling.
Trees in Tourism
California – Redwoods
Right outside San Francisco there is a small park called Muir Woods. A lot of tour companies go through this area so that patrons can see a redwood forest. It’s a convenient way to be able to see redwoods without having to travel too far outside the city. It truly is a hidden gem, it only took 10 or so minutes to get to the park after we crossed the golden gate bridge. The tour bus descended into the valley which was full of typical San Francisco fog, adding to the magic of the forest. This was an enthralling experience as the trees were beyond belief, towering into the sky and ranged in widths all the way up to the diameter of a car. This area was protected from forestry by a conservationist who bought the land and then was eventually turned into a national monument by President Roosevelt. I learned that redwood seeds lay dormant, unable to grow on the forest floor until an event like a forest fire spurs them into growing. Alternately, new trees can also grow from the roots of a preexisting tree so there can be multiple trees that share the same roots. The coastal fog is important to keeping these trees alive as they suck up the moisture in the air as their primary source of water. These giants were truly something to see and was my favorite part of my trip to the San Francisco area.
California – Eucalyptus
During the same trip to California, our tour bus driver that took us to Muir Woods had told us a story about the Eucalyptus in the area. The species of Eucalyptus were brought over from Australia with the purpose of becoming plantation trees that could be used for lumber. The trees were fast growing so they thought it was a perfect solution to meet lumber demands in the area due to the rapid housing demand at that time in history. The tree, which worked for lumber in Australia, did not work in California due to the difference in age when harvested. The idea was an epic failure as it was found that the wood twisted when it started drying and became too hard to do anything with. This poor choice continued to have consequences; the trees spread through the region and is now considered a weed. The issue with the spread of the eucalyptus is that when a forest fire happens, the eucalyptus burn really well and ‘explode’ causing further issues with spreading fire. I found this story particularly interesting as it shows the negative impact that species introduction can have in an area.
Mexico – Manchineel
I never imagined that there was a type of tree out there that could injur you from just touching it. I was in Mexico just doing the normal tourist activities, our group took a tour out to the Mayan ruin of Coba, which was very cool as you can actually climb to the top of the ancient pyramid. The second part of the tour was a zip line adventure which is where I encountered this dangerous tree. Walking through the jungle from line to line, our tour guide pointed out this tree called a Manchineel, he said “Don’t touch it or it will melt your skin off”. Needless to say the whole group stayed clear of these trees for the duration of the stay at the adventure park. While the tour guide was trying to scare us away from touching the tree it won’t actually melt your skin, it will however cause blistering and irritation. This tree is considered one of the most dangerous trees in the world and there are stories of the effects of its toxicity that you can find related not only to touching it’s sap but also to eating the fruit or inhaling the smoke when it’s burning. It’s not spectacular and kind of blends in with the other trees in the area but I found the information quite interesting and did not know that such a tree existed so it has stuck in my memory.
Toronto – Oak & Maple
I was fortunate enough to attend the ISA Conference in Toronto with some of my colleagues. It was quite an experience as you can meet people from across the world who work within the arboriculture industry. The best part of this experience was taking the ferry ride across lake Ontario to Toronto Island. There are many species of trees there, and it is clear that they have been growing for ages. As soon as you step foot on the island, you are greeted by a variety of large and beautiful trees. The iconic trees are the Oak and Maple; I was very excited about seeing acorns as well as the standard maple leaves that are so symbolic for our country. I pressed a maple leaf in a book during this trip as a souvenir of my time on the island. There were too many varieties of trees to count and if your up for a tour the island does have a tree species tour that you can take that spans across the island. I had never witnessed an arborist perform tree climbing before this point either; I was able to watch some tree climbing competitions that were being held on Toronto island for the ISA conference. It amazes me how some people can scale up into a tree or up a rope, they make it look effortless. The experience was very special and gave me an appreciation for the work our crews do on a daily basis.
I hope to have more travels and hear more stories of trees, you would be surprised how often trees come up in conversations and tours when your listening for it. There are a few places that are on my list that I hopefully get to visit in the future; for example I hope one day to see the giant sequoias in Yosemite national park. If there are any interesting places you’ve experienced or would like to share I would love to hear about them, visit the ArborCare Page on Facebook to start the conversation! If you are passionate about your trees you could also give us a call to set up an estimate, this will help you learn what types of trees you have in your yard and how best to care for them.
Thanks for visiting our blog! Casey Kallenberger Controller, ArborCare Tree Service Ltd