Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Cross Mountain Trail, June 12, 2006.
In the photograph above, the view is
across Lizard Head Pass to Yellow Mountain and Vermillion Peak
from the Cross Mountain Trail. Breezy days cause pollen-bearing
male cones on the lower limbs of Picea engelmannii to release clouds
of pollen that engulf nearby trees ensuring that the female seed cones
at the top of the
trees are pollinated.
The dark spots on the male pollen-bearing cones (in the photograph at left) pull back a fraction of a millimeter and release clouds of pollen in the wind. Several of the male cones, especially evident in the one to the right of center, still have the shiny brown sheath which covers each young cone until the pollen is fully developed. Then the sheath drops off the cone to allow the pollen to spread. You will find thousands of these sheaths at the base of Spruce trees.
to see Picea engelmannii in its krummholz form.