Botanical Skills by Matt Ritter, Ph.D, A Great Workshop!

With the intent to continually learn new information, stay up on new industry trends, laws and practices, I attend lots of seminars, workshops and continuing education courses. Most of the seminars have been informative and useful, and for the most part, the speakers have been entertaining in presenting their material.

Lets face it, learning new information is not always fascinating or interesting, especially when the topic is technical in nature. Or, the topic might be informative but the speaker might not have the best oratory skills to keep one fully involved and listening or absorbing the message.

When I attend an industry seminar, my intent is not only to learn new information, but to hopefully gain knowledge and facts that I can integrate into my consulting practice. Typically, I manage to come away with a tidbit or two that I might be able to incorporate into my practice, sometimes more, sometimes less. After all, when a seminar is advertised, it usually comes with a schedule of speakers throughout the day, and a brief line or two about what they will present during their allotted time slot. From that brief description, you make your decision whether the speaker and seminar is worth attending.

About a year ago, I got word of seminar about Eucalyptus tree identification, taught by Matt Ritter, Ph. D., a professor of Botany at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. Colleagues told me to not miss the opportunity to attend the seminar because Matt was an incredible, knowledgeable, and entertaining speaker and I would learn a great deal of information.

So, I signed up and attended the seminar, it was in San Diego at Balboa Park. I was astounded, blown away and extremely impressed by Matt. He presented Eucalyptus tree history, biology and identification in an easy to understand, creative and entertaining manner. He provided handouts, identification keys and practical, useful information I incorporated into my practice immediately and continue to use frequently.

About a month ago, I received an email informing me Matt would be teaching a one day workshop in botanical skills and tree identification in San Diego at Palomar College in San Marcos. I signed up immediately and attended the seminar yesterday. WOW!! Once again Matt provided a powerful workshop discussing a wide range of topics including an introduction into the history of scientific and common plant names, botanical nomenclature, how plants get their names, why plant names change, plant morphology, keys, and identification. We had mini workshops and quizzes, worked outdoors practicing tree identification using keys designed by Matt, learned online resources for plant identification, names and inventories. It was an action packed, informative, practical seminar that was presented in simple, basic terminology we could all understand.

You can really get a sense of Matt’s love of botany, trees, and plants and his enjoyment at teaching and sharing his knowledge and experience. He provides manuals and handouts that are useful, practical documents that I put to use immediately in my consulting practice. He is accessible and willing to share his information rather that horde it and not allow others to use the information he teaches, a trait not often seen in other university educators. How many speakers do you know who encourage you to contact him or her concerning tree and plant issues or tell you it is okay to take his printed information and teach it to others?

In closing, just wanted to thank Matt for providing such a great learning environment. If you are interested in trees and plants, whether a student, consultant, arborist, horticulturist, landscape architect, agency or park representative, you owe it to yourself to attend one of his seminars. You won’t be disappointed. Visit his website at Matt Ritter Website

Is Global Warming Affecting Redwood Trees in California?

I read a very interesting article in the L.A. Times concerning possible affects of global warming on both the Giant and Coastal Redwood tree populations in California. There might actually be some good news associated with global warming, recent scientific studies have documented growth spurts in both the coastal redwoods and giant sequoias.

Since the 1970’s, taking corings from trees more than 1,000 years old, scientists claim certain coastal redwoods have experienced the fastest growth ever. “The forests are not experiencing detrimental impacts from climate change” stated Emily Burns, science director at the Save the Redwoods League.

A variety of factors besides climate change could explain the increased growth rates said professor Stephen Sillett of Humboldt State, one of many researchers. Scientists established 16 research plots in old growth redwood and sequoia forests throughout their respective ranges. They took pencil width corings from 78 redwoods, studied the tree rings and developed a chronology dating back year 328. They also took corings from sequoias, analyzed the rings and dated the trees back to 474!

The data revealed redwood trunk growth in recent decades has “shattered” all records. The global warming records and effects on regional precipitation are less clear, indicating highly variable precipitation but overall no significant decline in the recent study areas. One theory is old giant sequoias might be growing faster because rising temperatures have extended the growing season in the Sierra Nevada.

Other theories include redwoods receiving more sun due to reduced fog in coastal climates yet still getting the precipitation they require or getting more sunlight due to a reduction in air pollution in north coastal areas from reduction in wood processing plants.

A great side benefit of the research was discovery of an ancient tree that corings revealed the oldest coastal redwood on record, 2,500 years old, besting the previous record holder by 300 years!!

When is comes to climate change, Professor Sillett added “I’m more worried about humans than I am about redwoods. I think they’re going to hold their own”. Very glad to hear this positive redwood assessment although a bit concerned about the human race.

Click to read the full article Is Climate Change Affecting Redwoods?