Wanderings this weekend took me through an ageing pine forest. The tranquility of the vast stand was a welcome relief from the confines of “Stay Home, Stay Healthy”, mantra. As you enter, the embrace of spice takes over your olfactory. The cinnamon scent of the Ponderosa Pines. Go to the warm, sunny-side of the tree. Stick your nose into one of the bark cracks. The smell, the smell. It reminds me of snicker doodle cookies or hot fresh baked cinnamon rolls.
The stand is an ageing forest. But being brought to it knees all too soon. This stand is being attacked by Pine Bark Beetles. The little buggers leave their trademark attack.
Many of the Inland Northwest Pine wood that I have turned have a magical blueish-grayish tint. At first look it may seem like spalting. But when you look at a tree felled, you can see the bugs trademark discoloration as well as their tunneling tracks. Because of the under bark destructive burrowing, it is difficult, not impossible, to get pine wood that has tight bark for live edge work. The bugs that are infecting many of the Pacific Northwest forests as well as the Inland Pacific Northwests’ forests are in a state of strong infestation. Already, when flying, you can see their handy work. Live forests next to the orange/golden needles of a dieing forest.
The image below is from an older turning I did in Ponderosa Pine. You can see is the discoloration emanating from the heart wood. In contrast, the image above-right shows the fungus discoloration in the live-wood and the heart wood is left untouched. Although the wood can be challenging to work with, the variation in grain and stress visuals is worth the effort. Locals love their pine, in bowls and or vessels. If they can get a live-edge object, even better.
I have written about this before. But find it worthy of mentioning again. The tree dieing from needle discoloration and needle drop is the first sign that the forest is in peril. The link below is from a “Mother Jones” article. It includes a graphic that visually shows the devastation this little bugger is causing.
Article by Story Editor Maddy Oatman: https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/bark-pine-beetles-climate-change-diana-six/