The Last Discovered Tree in North America
Wednesday April 20, 2005
By Nancy Salucci
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
We all know Oregon is famous for its amazing trees. But did you know that the last tree species to be discovered in North America was found right here in our area?
It was in 1884, in the Klamath-Siskiyou bio-region-also known as the Klamath Knot by geologists and the State of Jefferson by many free-thinking locals-that Thomas Jefferson Howell, a self-taught botanist, noticed an unusual conifer-a spruce with pendulous, drooping branches.
Eventually named the Brewer's or Weeping Spruce, it's found only on exposed mountain ridges in northern California and southwestern Oregon. The forest around Babyfoot Lake in the Kalmiopsis is almost the only forest in the world dominated by the drooping branches and reddish, jigsaw bark of this weeping spruce, which once grew throughout the West. It is said to "weep" because so few people ever push into the high solitude of Siskiyou, Josephine, and Curry counties to glimpse its beauty.
And many tree hunters-botanists who, like birders, will travel thousands of miles to spot that rarely seen species-come to the Klamath-Siskiyou region to add a sighting of Brewer's spruce to their list.
History is not limited to people and events; it often involve the natural world around us.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Nancy Salucci, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Jensen, Edward Trees to Know in Oregon, Corvallis, OR: OSU, 1994 Wallace, David Rains The Klamath Knot San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1983 Trail, Pepper, The Jefferson State Traveler Ashland, OR, White Cloud Press, 2002