Wednesday, April 29, 2015

15-Jul-2011 Ravenna Park, Seattle, Washington

Site location
In Washington state, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) grows almost exclusively east of the Cascade Range crest.  The only* naturally-occurring ponderosa stand west of the Cascades grows, unfortunately for me, completely within the bounds of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base in Pierce County that uses the forest for live ammunition practice.  It is theoretically possible to get permission to tap cones there, but the request process has so far proven too cumbersome.

There are, however, a few places in Seattle where ponderosas can be found.  One is located in Seattle's Woodland Park.  Nobody seems to know how the ponderosas got there.  According to the park's vegetation management plan, "As yet it is a mystery how the mature ponderosa pine became established in Woodland Park".  Whatever their origin, a fairly extensive grove of ponderosas now grows in the park.  Unfortunately I found no fallen cones to tap when I visited the park earlier in 2011.

A few ponderosas also grow in the southeastern section of Seattle's Ravenna Park.  Conveniently for me, not only were they were located a short walk from Hogan's Corner Laundromat where I was doing laundry this day, but they had dropped open cones in a scruffy area apparently ignored by groundskeepers!

Dashing into the woods first while my clothes washed and then again while they dried, I tapped 33 cones and collected 8 spiders and 2 species.  Although one of the species, Enoplognatha thoracica (Theridiidae), is introduced from Europe, I only found one individual.  The other identifiable species, Phrurotimpus borealis (Phrurotimpidae), is native, as were the genera of the other spiders I collected.  This was quite a departure from my springtime cone samples from Seattle's Green Lake Park (here and here) and Golden Gardens Park (here), which were teeming with introduced species.

*Ponderosas reportedly have grown in isolated patches in Clallam County and Mason County.  However, I've not found any modern confirmation that they still grow there, and haven't yet checked the areas myself.

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