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.

All images and content © by Alexander S. Kunz, unless otherwise noted. No re-use without express written permission. Most images are available as prints and for commercial licensing. Please contact me if you’re interested. Prints and licensed images are NOT watermarked, of course.

Strictly non-commercial usage (ie. no monetization through ads, referral systems etc.) on private blogs and websites is allowed if proper credit and a back-link are provided in the form of “Photo by Alexander S. Kunz – www.alex-kunz.com“. Thanks!

Torrey Pines art for sale



  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.

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