How I Got Started with ConiferGuide.com
I am a "nature guy" and thus interested in the full range of sciences from botany to zoology,
from geology to astronomy and even anthropology, but I really like trees. And
among trees, I especially like conifers. I speculate on this attraction in more detail below. Although,
I rarely have ever "hugged" a tree, I do find enjoyment in studying them. I get excited
standing beneath them, looking up the trunk and taking in their height. I like to examine the foliage; crushing
the leaves and smelling them or feeling the bark - both rough and smooth. The cones of conifers are
particularily fascinating to me and, I find, quite easy to collect!. From the simple flower-like Incense
Cedars (Calocedrus decurrens) to the heavy-duty Coulter Pines
(Pinus coulteri), each is unique.
Had I the opportunity, I'd plant a representative of each conifer species on a large plot of land and watch them grow to
maturity before my very eyes. However, since I have neither the time, nor the space, I decided the next best thing was
putting together ConiferGuide.com. Here I can catalog the photographs and other information gathered of species that
I've seen in habitat or at various arboretums.
Growing up with Conifers
I grew up on a 200 acre farm in central Minnesota. The land there was either deciduous
woodland or open fields. The only conifers being Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
and Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Tamaracks (Larix laricina) also
occurred naturally there, but were all cut down by beavers before I was old enough to even know
what a tree was.
In 1988, while I was still in grade school, we planted 3000 trees on several acres as part of
the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This included 1000 Red Pine (Pinus resinosa), 1000 White
Pine (Pinus strobus), 500 White Spruce (Picea glauca), and the last 500 being a mix of diciduous
trees and shrubs. Sadly, because of a terrible drought that year, many of the seedlings died and
we planted an additional 1000 Red Pine the following spring. After this, our conifer plantings
were much smaller with at most 30 trees at one time, however we did plant a wider variety of species
including: Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), Eastern Arbor Vitae (Thuja occidentalis),
Black Spruce (Picea mariana), Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), and even the lost Larches or
Tamaraks (Larix laricina) that the beavers had cut down.
If planting these trees sparked my interest in conifers at a young age, then watching them grow over the
years has fanned that interest into a flame. Although, I moved out of Minnesota more than ten years ago,
I still make it back on a regular basis. One of the most enjoyable things I look forward
to on my return visits is to check on the progress of the trees. Remembering when they
were nothing more than twigs with a tuft of needles, how neat it is to be able
to walk underneath the pines on a bed of needles shed from previous years growth while listening
to the sound of the wind whispering through the branches overhead!
Conifers in California
Moving to California put a lot of distance between me and those trees I helped plant with by brother,
father, and grandfather. At the same time, I found myself living in a state that boasts the
most conifers of any other state. Yet, not only did California have the most different species, it also
had some of the most unique species. This includes the worlds tallest tree -Coast Redwood
(Sequoia Sempervirens), the worlds largest tree -Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum),
the worlds oldest -Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) as well as a number of endemics
such as Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), Santa-Lucia Fir (Abies bracteata),
Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata), and other unique species. For more information on the wealth of California's
Conifer variety, see (article on California Conifers).
ConiferGuide.com is a spin off of CactiGuide.com -my first web site dedicated to
the identification of members of the Cactus family. Most of the hard work of
building a web site about a particular group of plants was done on that site and
I've simply transferred what I've learned over to ConiferGuide.com.
Much like CactiGuide.com, ConiferGuide.com is destined to be a work in progress. I
have a full-time job and a whole host of other commitments that require my time and
resources making this site a spare-time job. Regardless of these limitations, I get
much joy from working on the site when I can and am happy to be able to share this
hobby with others.
If you'd like to visit my web site on cacti, click: www.CactiGuide.com
A Statement of Personal Convictions
An astute observer will notice that this web site is devoid of any references to origins.
This is in contrast to the vast majority of science-related web sites which unabashedly
reference evolution or evolutionary beliefs as facts which need simply to be discovered.
It is my personal belief that all matter -including conifers- was created by the God of the
Bible and that the Genesis account of recent supernatural creation is the more believable
explanation for the origin of all things. I do not believe the earth is billions of
years old and therefore do not believe in a world created through evolution either. The
creation/evolution views are mutually exclusive of each other by definition and cannot
consequently be combined in an attempt to honor both sides of the issue.
Despite my personal convictions, I also recognize that because neither view can be
scientifically proven it will continue to be an unresolved matter of debate. In addition
because of the moral and philosophical implications of the subject, it is often accompanied
by strong emotions and few are without a staunch opinion one way or the other. I realize
that today the majority of the scientific community presents Darwinian Evolution without
consideration of its possible errancy or that there are alternative explanations of origins.
This situation does not in turn confirm the veracity of the view point, but simply reflects the
popular opinion of a particular group in a specific point in time. Indeed, if popular opinion
constituted proof, the Evolution Hypothesis would never have been posited within the
Creation framework which preceded it.
With that said, I have decided not to address the topic of origins on ConiferGuide.com beyond
these three paragraphs. This does not mean I think the subject is not worth thoroughly exploring.
In fact I would urge all to invest a considerable amount of time examining the evidence against
the interpretations of both view points without bias. I also will openly discuss my beliefs
with anyone who is inclined to bring it up. Meanwhile I will continue to develop ConiferGuide.com
in accordance with its Primary Objective.