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What's Up With That?!

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David C. Zlelsak


As eastern white pines (Pinus strobus) mature, they tend to develop a rounded upper canopy and interesting asymmetric form to their branches. The interesting branch arrangement, providing rich character to these trees, is due in part to how they have adapted to handle the stress imposed by the weight of snow and ice. The generally horizontal branches of white pine are somewhat brittle, and as they become excessively weighted down, especially in the presence of heavy winds, they respond by snapping and collapsing to the ground. The straight trunk typically remains in tact, helping to keep the tree standing tall. It’s impressive to see forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin where mature eastern white pines typically tower over neighboring tree species.


Photo 1: David Zlesak


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