the last mature monkey puzzle on the US east coast

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by davidrt28, Oct 4, 2022.

  1. davidrt28

    davidrt28 New Member

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    Maryland, USA
    ...soldiers on. I heard of a beltway backup on WTOP while driving from the 703 back to my home last weekend, and wondered "how can I kill some time in Bethesda?" Given that it had been a few years since I saw this tree, decided to drop in on it again. This tree is in a cold hollow in central Maryland and has surely seen below 0F many times...the one in Baltimore has died, as has the one in Philadelphia. I'm not aware of any others that are big enough to be coning. If I go down to SE VA to look for water tupelo seeds next fall, I will try to check on the one at the Norfolk Zoo.

    I'm not going to go find my old pictures of it from 1998 but this tree has roughly doubled in size since then. That would be slow by PNW/UK standards, probably, but with plants in marginal climates, slow and steady wins the race. It actually looks a bit better than I remember it looking 3-4 years ago. Hardly any visible branch dieback. I was lucky enough to catch the owner as she was walking her dog. Main pertinent part of our conversation was that she never fertilizes her lawn because it's zoysia and "zoysia does not need fertilizer". Whether that's true or not, I advised her that a too nutrient-rich soil can hasten the onset of root rot, which is what kills them in our area, and that she should probably continue to leave the soil alone and unfertilized.

    mp tree1.jpg mp tree2.jpg
    If we were a nation with the horticultural zeal of a commonwealth country, someone would be grafting this onto A. angustifolia or perhaps Agathis, to at least preserve this clone somehow. (Remember Professor Jason in FL has the only living Wollemi in that state, cause he grafted onto Agathis) This upscale residential area is becoming a bit of a tear-down zone and it's easy to imagine that in a decade or two some dunderhead wants to cut it down because it's in the way of his mini Taj-Mahal crammed onto a .25 acre lot.

    She said it produces cones that have no nuts, which makes sense since the nearest male pollinator might be several thousand miles away. Given that A. angustifolia has no issues with root rot, is proving hardier than generally known, and severe winters might become less common, one solution might be convincing various homeowners around it to plant them...with the hope of a male parana pine pollinating it! The parana pines currently grow fine in central NC, and a couple survived -4F in east Texas in the TX megafreeze. That doesn't guarantee they'd survive that up here of course. I have one, wanted more, but sadly missed the latest batch of seed from Sheffield that sold out really fast. (of course, I've sworn I'm done bothering to grow things from matter how rare) I'm going to give it a few years of sizing up before even considering planting it in the last sheltered south slope area of my garden.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2022
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Britain zone 8/9
    One option for cones might be to collect pollen from specimens elsewhere and blow it into the crown of the tree. Timing would be critical, though (and it's not easy to see when the female conelets are receptive!).
    davidrt28 likes this.

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