The Gymnosperm Database


Here I am standing in the crown of a very large Pinus longaeva in the White Pine Mountains of Nevada [R. Van Pelt, Sep-2001].


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About the Webmaster (Me)

When I was a kid I used to bring home every wounded animal, strange-looking piece of wood, interesting rock or whatever else might be in the woods and waters around our house. If it was too big to bring home, I took a picture of it. Our house moved around, as dad's company liked to transfer him, but mostly it was in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, California or North Carolina. When I got to be a teenager, I took up backpacking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, technical mountaineering, ice climbing, desert travel and international travel, more or less in that order. I read all the natural history I could lay my hands on -- Edward Abbey, John Burroughs, Charles Darwin, Colin Fletcher, Joseph Wood Krutch, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Wallace Stegner, Henry David Thoreau. Also a lot of Taoism, which fits in, in its way. Everywhere I went, in all the best places -- timberlines, deserts, the Rockies, the Sierra -- I found great trees, most of them conifers. So this gymnosperm business got off to an early start.

Now I'm a middle-aged white guy with a respectable job. I still climb mountains and run away to distant lands, but not enough (it was never enough, really). I know a lot about nature and the earth and how things work and something in me says its time to stop just acquiring all this knowledge and start spreading it around. I might do it by teaching but I've never been a teacher and thus am unlikely to find a position doing it. So I have a website where I display some of my knowledge about one of the things I know a fair bit about; conifers, and forest ecology. This website includes all the gymnosperms, not just conifers, but it's the trees that get the most attention. Things like Lepidozamia and Welwitschia are in here because they also are fascinating and moreover, many of those lesser-known plants are in danger of extinction simply because too few people know and care about them. But the focus has always been the big, ancient trees that still survive in western North America and that people come from the world over to marvel at. Those are the trees that I came to love as a child, and I suppose that if it weren't for them, this website would be about carnivores or corals or some other corner of the living world that has engrossed me in the past. It would surely be about Life, though, for I am a complete biophile.

Last Modified 2017-11-07