Category: Flora


Further exploring Howler’s capabilities I rendered the very same landscape in Puppy Ray GPU as was shown in the last post, having been rendered in 3D Designer. Oh my! Taiga forest, I lived there.

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I thought a digital rendering of a pine cone that I picked up in Ma’alot in northern Israel, would look nice with a quotation from naturalist John Muir. Muir was an early advocate of wilderness preservation in the United States, particularly in the west.

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john muir quote and pine cone

Preaching of Pines

Where the slopes are covered with pine forests, the Galilee reminds me very much of the western parts of North American. Jews began planting pines in the 1930s to reforest lands damaged by neglect and overgrazing by goats when under Turkish rule. Pines were chosen, in part, due to the fact that most of the “olim,” Jewish immigrants, were from Europe and pines looked normal to them. Eventually, the pine forests came under criticism, referred to as pine tree deserts, monotonous and sterile. Many people wanted to see native species reintroduced. However, in recent years much of the criticism has died away. It seems the pines have promoted the rebuilding of the soil. Native undergrowth and tree species, as well as wildlife, are making a comeback. And I can attest that sometimes the smell of pine resin is just wonderful.

The cone pictured is from from one of those pines, an Aleppo Pine (Pinus halpensis), also known as the Jerusalem Pine, is the only species of wild pine that grows in Israel. It is commonly accepted that the tree now called “pine” is the Biblical “oil tree”, as mentioned in Isaiah XLI, 19:

“I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree…”

It is also mentioned in I Kings VI, 23:

“And inside the sanctuary he made two cherubs of oil wood, each ten cubits high.”

The oil tree is also mentioned verses 31 and 33 of the same chapter, as well as in Nechemia VIII, 15.

The oil tree features close to other impressive trees in the description of the vision of the redemption, in the blossoming of the desert and the arid land. In the Mishnah and other rabbinic literature, the oil tree is mentioned as a tree that was used for kindling the beacons that were lighted to announce a new month.

The pine, in its present name, is mentioned in the Bible just once, in the Book of Isaiah XLIV, 14:

“… and takes the cypress and the oak, which he strengthens for himself among the trees of the forest; he plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.”

There is a mention of pine trees in the Mishnah in the context of the various trees which were used for burning the “red heifer”. There are also those who hold that pines were among the trees used for kindling the beacons to announce a new month.

Here is another view of the cone, superimposed on fallen needles.

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pine cone and needles

Pine Cone and Fallen Needles

The Aleppo pine blossoms and flowers in the spring. The male cones are shed after the flowering while the female cones develop into fruit. The cone stays closed on the tree until a heavy sharav [hamsin], when it opens and its seeds are scattered.

Several versions of these images are available on a wide variety of items at one of my Zazzle. stores. Search for “pine cone” or “muir.”

I hope you like this one, a wild rose, I think it came out extremely well.

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Rosa spp,

Wild Rose

Often, what is believed to be a wild rose, fluffy pink roses around abandoned home sites, are not wild roses, but the descendants of cultivated roses tough enough to survive without human care. .Roses have been hybridized since Roman times, there are thousands of tough, long-lived hybrids.

True wild roses, the botanical term “species rose,” occur naturally, with no human involvement. There are over 100 species of wild rose, some native to North America, many from the Orient and Europe. All have five petals and almost all of them are pink. A few species are few white or red, a very few may be yellowish.

Two species, Wood’s Rose (Rosa woodsii) and Nootka Rose (R. nutkana) are common to the Northwest, Western Canada, and parts of Alaska. The image above, from a photograph I took, is of one of those two species. Determining which can be very difficult as they are very similar and each appears in a number of varieties.

Wild roses serve as browse for browse for big game, including moose and deer, from spring through fall. Porcupines and beavers also browse the leaves.

Wild rose hips persist on the plant through much of the winter. Many birds and mammals are sustained by these dry fruits when the ground is covered with snow.

Wild roses hips can be eaten raw or cooked, remove the tiny hairs and seeds in the center. They are used in making jelly and jams and can also be dried to make a tea. Dried leaves can also serve as a tea substitute. Flower petals are great in salads adding a light flavor and beautiful color. Native Americans utilized young shoots as a potherb

The dried leaves are used as a tea substitute. Used as a medicinal plant all over the world for thousands of years wild roses are mentioned many old manuscripts and even in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Wild rose hips contain citric acid, flavonoids, fructose, malic acid, sucrose, tannins, vitamins A, B3, C, D, E, and P, calcium, phosphorus, iron, rutine, hesperidin and zinc. Research indicates that wild roses may aid in halting or reversing the growth of cancers. Rose hips are also known to lower saturated fats and triglycerides, helping to control blood pressure. The seed is rich in vitamin E and an oil extracted from the seed is used externally in the treatment of burns, scars and wrinkles. A poultice of the chewed leaves is used in an emergency to allay the pain of bee stings.

Europeans utilized hips as a source of Vitamins A and C. Rose hip powder was used as a flavoring in soups and for making syrup. . The leaves were steeped for tea, petals were eaten raw, in salads, candied, or made into syrup. The inner bark was smoked like tobacco, and dried petals were stored for perfume.

If you have ever eaten a rose hip you may have noticed that it may taste somewhat apple like. The interior of a rose hip, and the seeds, may also remind you of an apple. That is not an accident. The Rosaceae (The rose family) includes not only roses, but also the genus Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds), as well as raspberries and strawberries.

Continuing with this summer’s botanical series here’s a very tasty wild fruit that you have probably never heard of though species grow in Alaska, the Lower 48 and parts of Canada. I can attest that the Saskatoon makes for great pies and syrup. They can be added to cereal or muffins, dried as “raisins,” or just eaten fresh.

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amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon tastes rather like a blueberry with almond added. There are several species in North America. At least one species is native to every U.S. state except Hawaii and to every Canadian province and territory. Two species also occur in Asia, and one in Europe. Amelanchier species can be anywhere from about six inches to sixty feet tall. The origin of the generic name Amelanchier is probably derived from amalenquièr, amelanchièr, the Provencal l names of the European Amelanchier ovalis. Members of the rose family, Amelanchiers are related to hawthorns, crabapples, cherries, plums, and peaches.

The various species of Amelanchier are known by several common names: shadbush, shadwood, shadblow, serviceberry, sarvisberry, wild pear, juneberry, sugarplum, wild-plum and chuckley pear. Pigeonberry was once also used. The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Sorbus (Ash); it is also said that their flowers heralded the roads in the Appalachian mountains becoming passable, which meant that the circuit-riding preachers would be coming soon and church services would resume; also, that the ground was thawed enough to dig graves, and funeral services could be had for those who died over the winter. Shadberry refers to the shad runs in certain New England streams, which generally took place about when the trees bloomed.

The name Saskatoon originated from the Cree Indian name misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina, misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia, the species found in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada and Alaska.

In some areas the Serviceberry was included in pemmican, a combination of minced dried meat and fat, as a flavoring and preservative.

Amelanchier plants are preferred browse for deer and rabbits. Caterpillars of various moth species, as well as various other herbivorous insects feed on Amelanchier.

Saskatoons are harvested commercially and several named cultivars have been developed. Canadian growers are promoting the Saskatoon as a superfruit. Saskatoon berries contain significant Daily Value amounts of total dietary fiber, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin, and essential minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.

Saskatoons also contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, again, similar in composition to blueberries.