Throwback Thursday: The Once Awesome Pine

“Until white men with little foresight changed the situation, the plants and animals of the area were adjusted to the physical forces and formed many remarkable ecosystems, according to the descriptions by the earliest naturalists. True, there were many storms, droughts, and fires that left their record in dead trees and logs in the hammocks.”

1971, Frank C. Craighead, The Trees of South Florida, Volume 1: The Natural Environments and Their Succession

The “Awesome Pine”, pictured above in a photo downloaded from the Indian River County Conservation Areas website in 2013, fell over during Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. This humongous south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) was “discovered” — and named — by students from the Sebastian River High School Environmental Studies Program. It was measured and became to be the National Champion south Florida slash pine on the Champion Trees National Register maintained by the non-profit organization American Forests.

Dr. Ken Langeland, now Professor Emeritus, University of Florida Department of Agronomy, posed with the fallen pine in 2005. Note its scale and how the bark is just beginning to come apart …

Fast forward to May of 2014 … The bark is gone, and wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) and cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto) have volunteered around the fallen pine …

Insects remain hard at work at decomposing the pine and recycling its nutrients in May of 2016.