Christmas Tree Ornaments Idea - Nativity Scrolls

I know it may be a bit early to be thinking about Christmas tree ornaments for this years tree but just in case you are looking for something new and interesting to hang on your tree this year I´ve come across an interesting ornament idea that might interest you. They are called Nativity Scrolls. Each scroll has a special text written in both Hebrew and in English with an elegant calligraphy.

"These scrolls are inspired by the event of Christ's birth and the numerous prophecies in the Bible, foretelling hundreds of years beforehand, who the Messiah would be and how he would come into this world." - quote from Papuan Lass´s Etsy shop.

Spruce Pineapple or Pseudocone galls

"Pineapple" or "Pseudocone" galls occur on several species of Spruce trees including; Norway, Sitka, Englemann and Colorado blue. They are a chemically induced growth distortion caused by a small aphid like insect called a "Pineapple gall adelgid" that lays up to one hundred eggs, one of each of up to 100 Spruce needles at the tip of the new growth. When the new aphids hatch they begin to suck on the soft new growth needles which in turn provokes the gall like growth reaction as the needles begin to swell and end up morphing into each other.

At first glance these pineapple shaped galls can be easily mistaken for cones (thus the name "pseudocone"). The image above shows a newly formed gall beside a seed cone on an Englemann Spruce tree.
The inside of the gall is rather fibrous and "woody" with small pockets. Spraying the galls to get rid of the insects is to no avail as the aphids are usually well protected inside the gall structure.
The pineapple galls end up drying out and dying leaving a dark brown carcas behind that does not do any real harm to the tree but can stunt growth to the branchet it has grown on. In some instances the branchlet will keep growing past the gall while in others the gall halts the growth all together for that branchlet.

Harry Potter Tree look alike

Do you remember the tree in one of the Harry Potter films that was alive and had these long, wicked looking arms that swung around and almost did Harry in?

Well, I recently came across a tree near Segovia, Spain that reminded me of the Harry Potter tree. It´s not quite a big or as old but the "arms" and gnarly clumps at the end of the arms look just like the ones I remember in the film.

What do you think?

Pacific yew - Taxus brevifolia

The Pacific yew tree (species: Taxus brevifolia) is common in the forests of the Northwestern United States. It also goes by the common names of "Western yew" or "Oregen yew". The images in this post come from trees that I found in northern Idaho Western red cedar forests. This tree species is somewhat unique in that it is an evergreen with a berry like seed cone. These are called "arils" and are about 8-12 mm in diameter. They have a round shape but have an opening on the bottom side (see image below)

The berry like seed containers mature to a red color and contain a single seed. The seeds are dispersed by birds who eat the aril and then deposit the seed in their excrement. The leaves of the Pacific yew tree are flat and needle-like similar to some fir trees. The leaflets are about 2-3 cm in length and have point on the ends. The leaves are also arranged horizontally on the branches.
One of the distinctive features of the Pacific yew is that neither its main trunk or branches are straight but rather tend to be somewhat curvy and irregular. In western forests these trees grow in the shade of much larger trees are also most likely impacted by deep snows in the winter.
The bark of the Pacific yew tree is light brown in color and exhibits a flaky texture that peels off in thin strips. The main trunks on these trees were about 8 inches in diameter.

The Pacific yew tree is one of the tree species used in the making of wood archery bows.
This tree is a relative of the European Yew.