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|Crater Lake National Park|
Trees There are about 600 species of plants in the park, all of which have colonized the park since the eruption of Mt. Mazama. The predominant soil types in the park are still pumice and ash from the eruption of Mt. Mazama. Much of the park is heavily forested, and as can be seen in the picture below the rim provides beautiful views of the forests and meadows.
Much of the forest contains mountain hemlock and Shasta red fir. The rim of the lake contains several varieties of trees, including the whitebark pine, in addition to the mountain hemlock, and Shasta red fir.
Another of these trees along the rim is pictured below.
The mountain hemlock is easy to identify because of its droopy top. It depends on the deep snow pack found in the park to insulate it from extreme temperatures and to provide it with adequate moisture.
The Shasta red fir is easy to identify because of the way its cones stick straight up from the tree's branches. This tree is a true fir which does best in sunny, open areas. As such it will invade recently open, burned areas. The Shasta red fir is a prolific distributor of seeds, and is able to come back quickly after forest fire.
At the highest altitude, such as on Mt. Scott and the northern rim, the whitebark pine is commonly found. Typically, this tree is found above an altitude of 6500 feet. It occupies niches on exposed slopes with dry, rocky soil. It is a "pioneer species" which may be been the first species of tree to colonize the pumice covered slopes of Mt. Mazama after its cataclysmic eruption.
This aromatic tree has soft limbs which are able to bend with the wind, which may be intense on the rim of the lake or on the high slopes of park mountains. Its compact size also helps it handle the extremes of temperature and exposure characteristic of the environments in which it grows.
Because of the wind, and the pliability of the wood, the whitebark pines often affect wild shapes, with branches on the leeward side of the tree. On the exposed, windward side of the tree, dead limbs there protect and provide shelter for limbs on the other side.
The rugged shapes of the whitebark pine result from the strong wintry winds to which the trees are subjected. The dwarf, twisted form of many of the trees is referred to as Krumholtz
The prevailing direction of the win on Skell Head or Cloudcap and other areas where the whitebark pine grows is from the southwest.
The seeds of the whitebark pine are spread by the ubiquitous Clark's nutcracker, which will pry seeds from the cone in the autumn.
In the lower portions of the park lodgepole and ponderosa pine predominate. Both species are pictured below. The lodgepole pine is a common tree in many western national parks because of its ability to colonize land after other vegetation has been destroyed by fire. It is also able to survive in the hostile environs of pumice flats, common in the Crater Lake area, as well as accommodating extremes of moisture and temperature.
Other trees which are found within the confines of the park include white fir, Douglas fir, and sugar pine. In montane meadows and on the banks of streams other trees which can be found include subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, black cottonwood, and quaking aspen.
Other Plants Crater Lake National Park contains a wide variety of animal and plant life. Among the plants are lichens such as the staghorn lichen which grow on the bark of trees and on the forest floor.
Wildflowers also grow along the lake's rim, although because of the altitude, climate, and snowpack in the winter flowers may only have a couple of months to grow during the summer. A closeup of some of these wildflowers, possibly heather, can be seen below.
One interesting plant found in various places in the park is the false hellebore or corn lily, shown below. This plant prefers boggy or wet meadow areas.
Trees along the rim frame many spectacular views of the lake.
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