Sunday, April 14, 2024

The enchantment of evergreens in Northern Nevada’s backyards and gardens

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Evergreen trees, such as pines and firs, have a fascinating ability to stay green all year round, even in harsh winter conditions. A recent article by Gale Rankin in the California Native Plant Society newsletter explores the survival strategies of these conifers.

The article delves into how conifers, despite not having traditional leaves, are able to thrive in winter. Their needles or scales have evolved to minimize water loss and shed snow efficiently, reducing freeze damage. Additionally, conifers have a thick waxy coating that helps retain water and protect the leaf pores from drying out.

One of the challenges conifers face in winter is the formation of ice inside leaf cells. However, these plants have developed a mechanism to supercool their cells, preventing ice formation by creating an antifreeze solution within the cells. Furthermore, conifers have the ability to save chlorophyll from excess winter sun, utilizing plant pigments to dissipate the excess energy as heat.

For those interested in learning more about conifer adaptations and native plant societies, Rankin and other authors offer valuable information through the California Native Plant Society’s website. Consider joining the society to participate in wildflower hikes and lectures. The Nevada Native Plant Society also offers great plant hikes and talks for nature enthusiasts.

JoAnne Skelly, Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, can be contacted at skellyj@unr.edu for further insights into plant survival strategies in different seasons. Joining these plant societies can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the magic of evergreens in our backyards and gardens.

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