Name That Tree!

We recently received an inquiry requesting help identifying a particular tree in Seattle’s Colman Park. Martha Edmond, the inquirer, wrote:

Lombardy poplar

One of the photos Martha Edmond sent to help identify the tree, which turned out to be a Lombardy poplar.

“I wonder if you are able to help me. I am researching an artist who painted along the west shore of Lake Washington (circa 1905) near Colman Park. The artist included a row of trees in his work. I was told years ago by a dendrologist that they were native to the West Coast, and that they were willows—but they are certainly not “weeping” willows.

An article is being published on this artist, and it would be nice to identify the type of tree. I am attaching some views of the trees that I took on a trip to Colman Park. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!”

We forwarded the photos to a few folks here at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Professor Sarah Reichard immediately guessed that it was likely some sort of poplar—possibly a Lombardy poplar—but said she would need more than a slightly unfocused image to be certain.

So, taking advantage of lovely weather this week, Professor Emeritus Bob Edmonds and his wife decided to head over to Colman Park to have a look in person. They found two poplars in the area and confirmed that one does, in fact, have the small leaves and crown shape of a Lombardy poplar, which has European roots and is not native to the Pacific Northwest. Edmonds says the other, which has larger leaves and a different crown shape, is likely a black cottonwood, which is native to North America, including Washington and Oregon. Who knew such a seemingly simple inquiry could yield such a complicated explanation?

Thanks to everyone for helping solve this mystery, and we hope we were able to help Martha Edmond and Ottawa Magazine with their story!

Photo © Martha Edmond.

Olympic Peninsula Memoirs

Bob Dick and Darrell WhiteWhile researching material for a book he’s writing about the history of CFR/SEFS, Professor Emeritus Bob Edmonds came across a book that one of our alumni, Bob Dick (’74), recently coauthored with his childhood and long-time friend Darrel White, a high school biology and science teacher. Edmonds just finished reading the book, Skunk Cabbage and Chittum Bark: Sons of the Wynooche, and he was kind enough to offer a brief review!

Here’s what he had to say:

Skunk Cabbage and Chittum Bark is an interesting history on the background of many of our undergraduate students in the 1960s and early 1970s who came from rural backgrounds, and it illustrates how things have changed. The two authors grew up in Montesano and the Wynooche Valley (also spelled Wynoochee), which is between Olympia and Aberdeen/Hoquiam, and the book title refers to plant species the authors describe as “among the quintessential inhabitants of the Wynooche Valley.” Skunk cabbage is common in swampy areas, and chittum bark is Native American for cascara bark, which has medicinal properties. Peeling cascara bark was an income source for Bob and Darrell as young boys.

The book is divided into six parts: Wynooche Genesis, Kid Stuff, Family, Work, Reminiscence and The Valley, as well as an Epilogue. In each section Bob and Darrell document their separate and collective life stories, mostly from the 1950s to 1970s. In all there are nearly 60 short stories or vignettes, such as “Coming to the Valley,” “School Years,” “Fun with Amphibs,” “Timber!,” “Summer Camps,” “Mom and Dad,” “The Birth of a Career,” “The Logger,” “Hikes,” “The Lake,” “The Columbus Day Storm,” “Geology with Calvin and Hobbes,” “Eco-adolescents” and “The River.”

No doubt, Bob’s decision to enter a career in forestry was influenced by his father’s profession as a forester for Weyerhaeuser Company, and the hours he spent in the woods exploring, fishing and hunting. Bob served in the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington and Alaska, then graduated with a BS in Forest Management from CFR and became a professional forester, including stints as Alaska’s state forester and the Washington Forest Protection Association. He is a fellow of the Society of American Foresters, and he retired in 2010 after a 36-year career.”

If you’d like to read more about Bob Dick’s story, his book is available in paperback on Amazon for $18, and also in a Kindle Edition for $9.99 (Skunk Cabbage and Chittum Bark: Sons of the Wynooche, by Bob Dick and Darrel A. White, 2012. Bookstand Publishing, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. 248 pp.). You can also reach Dick via email at mrdickjr@gmail.com if you wish to request a copy.

Dissertation Defense: Camila Tejo Haristoy!

Camila Haristoy

Camila Haristoy

Want to see the forest from a different perspective? Then strap in for some high-flying research as Camila Haristoy defends her dissertation in the Forest Club Room this Monday, June 10, at 10 a.m.!

“Above and Below the Canopy of Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum): Canopy Soils, Litterfall and Decomposition in an Old-Growth Temperate Rainforest”

Epiphytes play critical functional roles in ecosystems by capturing rain, transforming nutrients and providing habitat for canopy-dwelling organisms that are often habitat specialists. Few studies have examined the transfer of epiphytes from the canopy to the forest floor, or how decomposition differs between the canopy and forest floor environment in coastal temperate forest ecosystems.

In her study, Haristoy examined canopy soils, epiphytic litterfall and decomposition of materials associated with bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in an old-growth temperate forest at the Queets River watershed, Olympic National Park. An enhanced understanding of the movement of epiphytes can provide ecological insights into processes and dynamics of these complex forest ecosystems, and provide conservation strategies for managers.

Haristoy’s committee is co-chaired by Professor Darlene Zabowski and Nalini Nadkarni, and other members include SEFS Professors Bob Edmonds and Jerry Franklin, along with Marcia Ciol.

Camila Haristoy

Images © Camila Haristoy.

Thesis Defense: Mahsa Khorasani!

Masha KhorasaniThis Friday, May 24, at 11:30 a.m. in Anderson 22, Mahsa Khorasani will be defending her Master’s Thesis: “Cylindrocarpon species in Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir Nurseries: Phylogeny and Effects of Temperature and Fungicides on Mycelial Growth.”

Douglas-fir nurseries play an important economic role in the Pacific Northwest timber industry. However, there are various types of fungi that cause the early death of seedlings and influence regeneration success. One of the destructive fungus root rot pathogens, Cylindrocarpon, causes the loss of seedlings in early stages of their growth.  The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify the species of Cylindrocarpon occurring in three different nurseries in the Pacific Northwest, (2) investigate the effect of temperature on the growth rate of the mycelia of these fungus pathogens in vitro, and (3) determine the influence of some major fungicides on the control these pathogens.

Khorasani’s results have implications for nursery pathology in the identification and control of seedling root rot of Douglas-fir, so come out and learn what she discovered!

Her committee chair is Professor Emeritus Bob Edmonds, and other committee members include Professor Sharon Doty, along with Joseph Ammirati, Willis Littke and Rusty Rodriguez.

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 5 Preview!

Forest HealthAs we turn a new leaf on the calendar this coming Wednesday, it’s fitting—or at least convenient as far this story is concerned—that we’ll also be turning your attention to the leaves (and roots, bark, branches, etc.) in our state’s forests for Week 5 of the SEFS Seminar Series!

For his talk, “Forest Health in Washington,” Professor Emeritus Bob Edmonds will explore concerns about the recent high rate of tree mortality and the potential impact on ecosystem services. Washington’s forests are impacted by insects, diseases, fire, animals, air pollution, drought, climate change and other factors. Introduced as well as native insect and disease problems are involved, and forest health is generally worse in eastern Washington than western Washington. Professor Edmonds’ talk, in turn, will cover the causes of forest health problems and what is being done to alleviate them.

When: Wednesday, May 1, 3:30-4:20 p.m.
Where: Anderson Hall, Room 223
Who’s Invited: It’s open to the public, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend!

Come out and support your colleagues, and then head over to the Forest Club Room afterward for a casual reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Also, mark your calendars for the remaining talks this spring!

SEFS Seminar Series: Spring Quarter Schedule!

SEFS Seminar SeriesFeeling uninspired on Wednesday afternoons lately? Craving intellectual stimulation—that first shiver of excitement when a brave new idea courses through you? Well, crave idly no more, as the SEFS Seminar Series is back for the 2013 Spring Quarter!

Starting tomorrow, April 3, the series kicks off with a scorcher: “The Second Solution to Climate Change: Mobilizing Nature to Reach Target 350 ppm.” For this talk, we’re especially pleased to welcome Rhys Roth and Patrick Mazza from Climate Solutions, and Amanda Stanley from the Wilburforce Foundation.

Held on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223, the seminars are open to the public, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend! (Graduate Students will get 3 credits registering SEFS 550C).

After the seminar, join your colleagues over in the Forest Club Room for a casual reception from 4:30-6 p.m. We’ll have snacks, and this spring we’ll be offering selections from the Fremont Brewing Company (for those of age)!

Check out the rest of the spring schedule below:

April 10
“Connections Between Environmental Science and Health”
Professor Susan Bolton, SEFS

April 17
“Ecological Restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand”
Mel Galbraith, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand

April 24
“Connectivity for the 21st Century: Planning for Climate-Driven Shifts in Biota.”
Professor Josh Lawler, SEFS

May 1
“Forest Health in Washington”
Professor Emeritus Bob Edmonds, SEFS

May 8
“The Dynamics of Photosynthesis and its Significance for Modeling Plant Growth”
Professor David Ford, SEFS

May 15
“Conservation Biology of the Endangered Huon Tree Kangaroo in Papua New Guinea: A Community-based Approach”
Lisa Dabek, Woodland Park Zoo

May 22
“Landscape-scale Effects of Fire Severity in Yosemite National Park from LiDAR and Landsat Data”
Van Kane, SEFS

May 29
“Reconciliation—A Personal Journey of a Nez Perce Trying to Manage Nature”
Jaime Pinkham, Native Nations

June 5
“SEFS Student Enrollment: Past, Future and National Trends”
Michelle Trudeau, SEFS

Professor Bob Edmonds: A World Apart

“Never a dull day, never boring,” says Bob Edmonds—that’s the life of a professor.

That certainly seems true of Edmonds’ career, which has spanned an incredible spectrum of fields within the forestry community. In 37 years of teaching and research, his studies have covered everything from forest pathology and aerobiology to soil ecology and microbiology. He’s delved into water and watersheds, including a long-term project investigating the effects of air pollution and acid rain on forests and aquatic ecosystems on the Olympic Peninsula. He’s also explored the influence of biosolids on forest soils, as well as the ecology and management of root diseases.

Bob EdmondsThrough all of his interests and inquiries, he says, runs a passion for forest health, and trying to understand and manage healthy forest ecosystems. “What am I?” he asks with a wistful smile. “I’d probably say I’m an ecosystem ecologist.”

Edmonds, professor emeritus with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS), began his academic work the early 1960s. He grew up in Australia and earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Sydney in 1964. Two years later he moved to Seattle and enrolled at the University of Washington to study forest pathology. He earned his master’s in 1968, and then his Ph.D. in 1971. Initially, he figured he’d return to Australia afterwards, but when he met his future wife—who was from Juneau, Alaska, and also in school in Seattle—he decided to stick around.

A postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan soon had Edmonds studying aerobiology with the US/IBP (International Biological Program Aerobiology Program. “It was pretty interesting work,” he says, “because it involved a lot of international travel, lots of meetings, going to Washington, D.C., and serving on national committees.”

When the Michigan program ended three years later, he managed to secure a staff position back at the University of Washington, and then shortly after he became a member of the research faculty and associate director of the US/IBP Coniferous Forest Biome Program.

Some of that early biome research contributed greatly to the global understanding of how ecosystems function, and the importance of old-growth forests. Many of the practices they came up with—involving the management of wildlife and other elements of the forest ecosystem—are still respected standards today. “You can’t predict where you’re going with life, but it was very interesting to be involved in big science at the time.”

One of his first research projects at the College of Forest Resources in the 1970s involved some dirty work with soil science with fellow faculty member Professor Dale Cole: an experiment to figure out whether the city’s treated sewage sludge—now called biosolids—could be repurposed as fertilizer to improve forest soils. Using several stands in Pack Forest as test grounds, Edmonds and colleagues discovered that the sludge, which had a consistency like “chocolate cake mix,” worked marvelously with some plants and trees but was disastrous for others, like hemlock. (“Douglas-fir responds like crazy,” he says. The evidence is still on display at the front desk of Anderson 107, where you’ll find a cross-section of a young tree with rings that explode with growth after the introduction of sludge.)

Bob EdmondsAfter a few missteps, including an occasional mini-mudslide of sewage, their work led to the design of an ecologically safe, sustainable program for the disposal of large quantities of biosolids. “It was an example of how the work we do here [at SEFS] is used around the world. We were the first to use these biosolids in a forest environment. It was successful, and many of the people who run the program in Seattle today are grads from our program—and they’re still putting it in forests today.”

During his long career at the University of Washington, Edmonds says he had the privilege of working with 48 graduate students and teaching hundreds of others in his many courses. He is now officially retired, and while he doesn’t necessarily miss the big classes he taught (survey courses like “Forest and Society”), he absolutely loved the smaller groups. “The nicest classes to teach have about 20 students with a lab, and everyone wants to be there. They hang on every word you say, and then you have field trips where you can go show them what they’ve been learning in class. That’s really satisfying teaching.”

One of his regular field excursions involved a trip to the east side of the Cascades to examine forest health issues. “We’d explore stressed forests that had damage from insects, fire and disease,” he says. “You could actually show students what was happening on the ground.”

Another favorite trip, he recalls, was a tour along the Interstate 90 corridor. On a Saturday, he and his students would make seven stops to mark changes in the different forest ecosystems as they traveled east through urban, suburban and forest environments. “It was usually a big hit.”

Next up for Edmonds? He’s planning to tackle a new history of SEFS. He’ll draw from The Long Road Traveled, written by Henry Schmitz in 1973, yet Edmonds wants to expand the narrative to include more personal stories and anecdotes from the many talented people who’ve passed through the college and school since its founding in 1907.

“Things have changed over time,” says Edmonds, “but this place has had a very big influence on what’s going in forestry throughout the world.”

*If you want to see Edmonds in action, he’s giving a lecture tomorrow, January 15, as part of the Water Seminar series. His talk, “The Role of Trees in Modifying Water Chemistry,” starts at 8:30 a.m. in Anderson 223. It’s open to the public, no registration necessary, so come check it out!

Photos courtesy of Bob Edmonds.