Anybody Know Trees?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Laurence, Aug 21, 2018.

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  1. Laurence

    Laurence Grandmaster

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    Due to the planet’s position and behaviour in the solar system I’ve planned out, the town I’m writing about in my novel gets highs of around 50 degrees C in their summers and -50 in winters.

    I’ve already decided how this affects various traits of people, animals, clothing and buildings, and am trying to figure out what trees would be viable near each other.

    I’m thinking due to the temps I ought to go for zone 2 plants and plenty of these are right up my alley visually. What I need to know is how much I can afford to intermingle all or only some trees from the same plant hardiness zone, whether they would be far apart from one another, whether they’d need vastly different environments etc. This is all within the confines of one enormous forest (around 100km wide). The eastern half heads up some mountains.

    The trees I’m most interested in (mostly because I’m more confident readers would be able to imagine them or they roll off the tongue) are: cherry, chestnut, poplar, spruce, birch, ash and willow.

    So anyone an arborist by any chance?
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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    I know next to nothing about plants, let alone trees but I can see there being a problem with the temperature range. 100 degrees is a lot...
    You can get things to grow at -50 and you can get things to grow at +50. To get the same things to grow at the either end of the range will be interesting.
    Is the swing an annual thing or over a longer time time?
    I can remember that in Brian Aldiss' Helliconia trilogy there was a 25 hundred[?] year "long" year and a regular "short" year. Heliconia [or at least the bit the story took place in] went from Ice age to drought and desert and back. That was long enough for civilisations to rise and survive the summers and winters but not really thrive.
     
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  3. Laurence

    Laurence Grandmaster

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    Hey, thanks for your thoughts.

    Sorry, that was meant to be -30 and +30 in this particular town, which is pretty much the final northern frontier. Still quite a swing.

    The extremes near the equator are half as drastic due to there being negligible planet tilt. Here the temperatures are pretty much constantly between 30 and 60 degrees. So this is where I imagined most of life started off (with natural methods of dealing with heat), and people only made their way north as they created artificial coping mechanisms for the cold.

    I'm currently set up to have 192 days of warming until the planet reaches the point where it's between the two suns, then 192 days of cooling as it heads to the outer side of one of the two suns (figure of eight). So the swing is pretty quick. I'm having fun thinking of bits and bobs that'll help the various civilisations survive in each environment but really need help figuring out how the non-sentient beings do it (because there are certain locations I want to have greenery.)

    Pseudoscience welcome if necessary, ie. a tree that has features of a cactus and of a spruce, to survive both. There's a bit of sun & growth based magic surrounding the town in question so it's not dire but would be cool to at least semi explain / imply some of how this works.
     
  4. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    I know a bit about birch, spruce, and willow. The higher the elevation the more spruce you'll have in thicker quantity--and when you get into windswept zones they'll shrink due to wind damage (also lean) and they will be more thinned out. Although you can find patches of forest with all 3 of these tree types in it, the lower the elevation the more birch and willow you'll have. Also, willows can reach higher elevation (in Alaska they are stunted) and down here in Washington they are large. The species of spruce you get will also depend on your elevation and climatic zone. For example, along the coast and mountains of Alaska by the Kenai Peninsula there is pretty much only Black Spruce, whereas on the Washington Coast (and the Olympic Peninsula) there were no black spruce but Sitka Spruce, which are more prevalent in rainier areas. The Black Spruce is hardy and sturdy and can handle lower temps and higher windstorms like the Chinooks that are common in arctic areas. Does this help some?
     
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  5. Laurence

    Laurence Grandmaster

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    That's great, thanks. I figured as much that as I went up it'd be more of the spruce -- the density's really good to be aware of. I wonder if this is mostly down to wind protection or whether temperature and soil plays a big part in this as well.

    By the way, my mum's name is Catherine Rose Andrews :whistle:
     
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  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    These are almost all deciduous, and won't really tolerate mass swings in temperature. When I think about the temperatures you have given, I immediately think of Northern Canada (or Alaska, like Chessie said), where temp swings like that are common. We don't have as many deciduous, and instead have a lot of pine, spruce, and fir trees.
     
  7. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Temperature does have a lot of play into it. The spruce are physiologically capable of handling colder temperatures as well as higher accumulation of snow. I'm thinking of tundra above boreal forests (usually in the same area just higher elevation and thus climatic zone) where you have larger spruce, birch, willow and alder at the bottom, and as you rise in elevation you lose the birch and the other trees shrink. Willow and alder tend to pair together as you start transitioning to the tundra. That will be where your greater cluster of trees will be. As you enter the tundra, the only trees you'll find up there will either be scattered spruce (usually paired with alder/willow) or just spruce. Think: the higher the elevation the more frequency in storms you'll have. So you need trees that can handle this sort of climate. (I studied Ecology in college, lol)


    EDIT: Also consider your north and south facing slopes. Your north slopes will have cooler temperatures and less sun in the winter months, so they'll have less trees than the south facing slopes.
     
  8. Laurence

    Laurence Grandmaster

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    Amazing, thanks.

    My plan is to use the deciduous trees around town where magic's involved then, as you go further out, more and more evergreens.

    Storms are also pretty frequent in this world on account of the temps so the trees'll certainly need to be hardy.
     
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  9. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Sounds like my elven world. :) Best of luck!
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    I second what Chessie says here. You can find aspen high up, but there needs to be water. Same for poplar. Cherries like foothills but not mountains. Don't forget the importance of water and wind. Also, you can look at each tree individually and can find where each can be found.

    One other factor: species change, but so do names for them. That varies not only by language but even by region within a language. There's not much you can do about it, but be aware that not all your readers are going to envision the same tree you do when you say "ash" or "willow" or whatever. So don't worry about absolute precision.
     
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  11. Yora

    Yora Mystagogue

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    As this is not planet Earth and these are not actually Earth plants, they would have evolved to survive in these conditions.

    Extreme high and low temperature would most likely mean that trees grow extremely slowly, as there are only short vegetation periods during which the conditions are right. This generally results in very dense wood. It doesn't mean that trees would neccessarily be small, as a common side effect is that the trees will get incredibly old. The oldest known trees are most commonly found in dry mountains.

    For some reason I don't know (but I could ask my teacher, he often knows such things) trees in barren and arrid environments often don't grow straight but end up very warped and twisted. Which makes them less suited as construction material for things that require big straight beams.
     
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  12. Laurence

    Laurence Grandmaster

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    That’s good advice - in places I’ll likely even just describe some trees without naming them but it’s nice for me to know.

    That’s great to know regarding density and shape. Really getting a vivid image in my mind of this part of the map now. I’ll look into why some are more twisted - presumably because less trees to compete for height with?
     
  13. Yora

    Yora Mystagogue

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    I think this allows them to get away with it and not having to race for maximum height as in a fertile forest. In other environments, such trees would have a severe problem. There are in fact several types of pines that grow crooked in open surroundings but straight when growing surrounded by other trees close by.
    Growing straight probably takes some extra effort and use of resources, which at least some trees don't bother with when they don't have to compete for light.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  14. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Mystagogue

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    Actually, an urban area would create a microclimate, so different tree species in the city might fare better than out in the wilderness. They might do just fine without any magic.

    As for what species of trees, I'm also seeing more evergreen conifers or deciduous conifers (yes, that's a thing) than deciduous. I'll also add "larch" to the list of trees already mentioned. Don't forget the native shrubs, too!

    You can go to the Arbor Society online catalog and get a really good overview [and pictures if you need visual references] of native trees and their planting zones/ habitat regions. Alaska & Canada Extension Services usually offer native tree lists and their range of zones too if you want to check it out.
     
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Number 17: The Larch
     
  16. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Mystagogue

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    Just in case you need to identify a tree from a long way away... :ROFLMAO: :D
     
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