Dying Torrey Pines

On a recent, spontaneous visit to Broken Hill at Torrey Pines State Preserve it saddened me to see two of the smaller Torrey Pines on the hill dying. I don’t know what is causing it, but with California’s ongoing drought I would assume the lack of precipitation is one reason.

The two photos below were made in different weather, times and months. The first one is from May 2013 in the late afternoon and it was overcast and looked like rain. The second one from February 2015 was made around noon and it was foggy. Click on either image to open it larger to see the difference.

I’d like to add that, unlike a lot of other photographers, I do not climb around the eroded hills to “get the shot”. I always see footprints in the soil there, and I see enough photos online that were clearly made from a position that is off limits. It’s a nature preserve, folks. Stay on the trails. Your friggin’ photo isn’t that important, and it won’t look that different either at that spot.

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3 thoughts on “Dying Torrey Pines

  1. The cause of death is usually bark beetles. When the trees receive adequate water, they produce abundant sap that deters bark beetles from establishing residence within the tree. Without that sap, the larvae of the bark beetle will feed on the trees cambrium (the living inner layer of the bark). The loss of cambrium prevents the tree from receiving water, which kills the tree. This is a common problem with Torrey Pines. The smaller trees do not have the same extensive root systems as the older trees, and therefore they run out of water faster. Most mature trees have root systems that are as much as 4-5 times as deep as the tree is tall. Many trees have root systems that reach into the Penasquitos Lagoon.

    An additional problem is that Torrey pines receive a fair amount of their moisture from fog; the needles on the tree form a type of straw, upon which condensation forms and “slides” into the branch, nourishing the tree. Along with a lack of rain has come a lack of fog, which has deprived many Torrey pines with a secondary water source.

    1. I agree with what you just stated and that was my first thought. However, just to the south of Torrey Pines State Reserve at the Torrey Pines Lodge & Golf Resort, they have lost around 66 Torreys. Now what is odd about that is that the ecosystem scenario is not that of a dry Southern California with higher temps and prolonged drought conditions, but rather the unique ecosystem presented there is more like a mild meadow type of ecosystem setting of high rainfall scenario provided by the surrounding constantly water golf course lawns. So the more water available should allow the trees there to manufacture massive amounts of sap & pine pitch to drown out beetles and their larva, but that doesn’t seem to be working. Clearly something else is wrong here than lack of water and so-called higher temps. The higher temps are also a nonissue since numerous giany old growth extremely tall Torrey Pines exist throughout all the much hotter drier interior inland valleys and mountain foothills where people have planted them several decades ago. All from what I have onserved are doing just fine. I’ll take more photos this April/May when I come back there for aa visit in 2018.

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