Posted by: Kate | March 19, 2012

The World of the Forest at Our Feet

Although it is hard to resist looking up at the tall trees as we walk in the forest, sometimes it is interesting to watch the ground. (Sometimes it is safer, as we often stumble over roots or fallen branches in the path.) Many small plants are to be found along the edges of the path, and most certainly we will find tree cones (like most other people, we call them pine cones but they often aren’t from pines). I’m fascinated by these seed pods of the conifers, and love to identify the trees around us based on the cones on the ground.

Tree cones collected March 2012.

Above we have the little cones, or catkins, of the alder tree, which isn’t even a conifer but is always plentiful in our more northern forests along waterways. Next we have the cone of the Douglas Fir. Most island children (and I’m guessing west coast children) have been taught a version of the first nations story of the mouse and the cone – there are many variations but all end with the mouse stuck in the cone! The last one I’m not as confident on, but am fairly certain that it comes from a Sitka Spruce, another conifer native to Vancouver Island and commonly found with Western Hemlock and along river and shore (where these cones were found).

I love that our surroundings provide constant interest and learning opportunities – lifelong learning is a delight of mine and a lesson for Bushboy that I think is very valuable.


  1. I have a tendency to look down more than up actually! Not because I trip (though I do!) but because I’m such a plant person and love to ID plants anywhere I go (which then morphs into thoughts of whether I think elk will eat them or not…too many years doing this so I now have a one-track mind!). I also love tree cones and trying to figure out which tree they belong to. This past summer we were in sugar pine country and those were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen (easily over a foot long). Very cool!

  2. what fun!
    we love collecting pine cones (and rocks, and twigs, and leaves, and …..) over here but are not as good abut actually identifying them when we get back home.
    we should be better about that – thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. There’s something so intriguing about tree cones. I often pick them up, wanting to make something from them. So far, I have a little corner in a bookshelf filled with different cones, twigs, leaves, flowers, rocks, etc. I like the ‘wild’ look so will probably not change a thing.

    I haven’t noticed any large Douglas Fir cones nor the Sitka Spruce, thx for showing them, they’re beautiful. I’m pretty sure I have some tiny Alder Tree cones, not entirely sure though. I’m constantly amazed at all the different varieties of trees out here (in Kelowna).

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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