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Not a native. The names say it all: Atlas cedar, from the Atlas mountain range in Algeria and Morocco, and Cedrus atlanticus for the same reason. But it has been planted along the Pacific coast of the US. It is said that we have a Mediterranean climate, so maybe the Atlas cedars planted as ornamentals here feel at home.

The search for a good photo of subalpine larch needles led me to this article by Michael Kauffmann, an ecologist whose CV reveals a body of research on conifers of the western North American continent. These particular needles are so short that I thought I was looking at newly emerged leaves–baby needles–but Kauffmann says something else is going on: an extremely varied and subtle response to the needs, not just on any particular slope of foothills, but on a particular branch or twig of the tree. “At any given place on the tree, the subalpine larch allocates needles–how long or how many–to optimize the energy balance based on availability of resources.” He took this photo, and others on the same tree showing needles half the length of these, double their length, triple their length. Nature is amazing.

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