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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mysterious tree

I decided to scan some more old photos today and came across this one taken 15 years ago. It's some kind of tree, probably juniper, that is probably way older than 100 years.

That's me sitting under the tree. Here is the same tree today. It hasn't changed much in 35 years, and probably much longer. The mystery is, how old is it, what kind of tree is it, and who hacked on it for firewood?Prehistoric foragers?

The mystery deepens. I first saw the tree around 1977-78. Then, even though I knew it was on my property, I could never relocate it again. Quite by accident, I rediscovered it 25 years later, more or less. And it's actually within sight of my house!

In the above photo the camera is looking NW. My [earth-sheltered] house is near the center, with basically just the roof showing. In the center left of the above photo you can barely make out the road snaking between the mountain and the arroyo headed toward the oasis, which appears as a dark fuzzy line on the left center of the photo.

Afterthought: Studying the photos a bit I see on the first one some unweathered wood, so I'm thinking some of the Mexicans that helped build my house probably scavenged some on the tree, but there was plenty of mesquite around, their favored wood, so doubtful they took much from it, because it's obviously a juniper of some kind. But most of the hacking activity was very weathered 35 years ago, so someone with crude tools worked on it before then. And in case you're wondering, I employed some undocumented immigrants; I didn't check IDs, but in those days it wasn't illegal to hire undocumented immigrants. I even helped a couple of them get their legal status here. Times change.


  1. My guess, looking at the appearance of the wood and form, is that it is Oneseed Juniper / Juniperus monosperma, or possibly Alligator Juniper / J. deppeana. That was a biggun!

  2. It's really big for this part of the country. I agree with your guess. I forget the name of the juniper in this area (mostly around Alpine these days) with the purple berries. The ones growing wild around here these days don't get that big and have red berries. I'm leaning towards it being the purple berry juniper (may well be the Oneseed) but now I forgot why I thought that.