Spruce Twigs and Needles

I have been doing some research lately into plant life in Alaska, and was most recently reading up on White Spruce. So, I got the idea to clip the end of a branch from off a spruce tree here in my yard (in Fairbanks) and take some photos with the coin microscope. I believe the tree is common White Spruce, but it was twilight and I didn't get too good of a look at it before clipping off the branch.

Here are the photos, using the ANNLOV coin microscope. As usual, I had to re-encode them in GIMP.

Spruce Photo 0

Spruce Photo 1

Spruce Photo 2

Spruce Photo 3

Spruce Photo 4

Spruce Photo 5

Spruce Photo 6

Spruce Photo 7

Spruce Photo 8

Spruce Photo 9

Spruce Photo 10

Spruce Photo 11

A few thoughts presented in random order:

I was reading up on White Spruce and the various critters that depending on it for food. Some, like the Spruce Grouse, prefer to eat the needles, while others like the cones. IIRC, squirrels eat the seeds, and bears enjoy the bark. I believe, as written in Genesis 1, that originally birds and animals ate only plant life[1] so it is interesting to see the variety of ways White Spruce provides sustenance to animals.

My wife was commenting on how juicy the needles and stem cross-sections look when viewed with the coin microscope. We could see how animals would find that a nourishing meal in the winter. Of course, they don't taste good to people, but you could boil a tea out of spruce needles if you were in the wilderness and desperate for nourishment.

Also the White Spruce is an interesting tree in how it flourishes in colder environments where many other trees don't do well. Another example of God designing his creations to be adaptable and to fill diverse environments.

I'm curious about what appears to be white fungal growth on the stems and needles — if this is a parasitic growth, or a mutually beneficial relationship.

End Notes

[1] Some further discussion could be had here about the diet of bugs, or animals eating bugs.

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