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.