RE: Butresses    Roman Dial
   Oct 04, 2005 21:22 PDT 

Thanks for this photo. It's very dramatic in its revelation of the
underwater buttressing.

There is quite a large literature on buttressing in tropical trees that
proposes so many hypotheses for why there are buttreses in the tropics
that it's a bit overwhelming.

However, tip-ups seem to be more rare in tropical forests than bole
snaps that it's hard not to go with the support hypothesis for
buttresses in the very shallow tropical soils.

Tropical buttreses are of the plank variety, mostly (although flying
buttresses and stilts are there). That's what I like about the photo. It
shows a big butt swelling, rather than the rocket-ship fins of tropical

On a different note -- is there a book out there like BVP's book, except
on Eastern trees instead? A book that has images and maps of the
wonderful hardwoods of ENTS?

My son is in college on the East Coast and it would be satisfying to
combine a visit to see him with a trip that visits the big & wild wood
of the East.

They don't have to be forests that have the champions or the most
volume. For instance, my favorite Giant Sequoia grove is not home to the
biggest tallest or most famous. What' s really neat about it is that
when you get up into the trees, all you can see in every direction are
more Sequoia and the distant ridges are covered in more big trees.

Wild watersheds of old growth -- it seems that is what ENTS members look
for and enter as well, worshipping the groves by making mysterious and
magical calculations that speak to the wonders they find there.

Buttresses, forest musings, and music   Robert Leverett
  Oct 05, 2005 06:18 PDT 


   You express what it is that we do very well: "it seems that is what
ENTS members look for and enter as well, worshipping the groves by
making mysterious and magical calculations that speak to the wonders
they find there." Your lyrical description captures the essence of what
drives every Ent. Yes, we revere the bizarre forms and the long shadows
cast. We seek the elfin-like places where the forest elixir is potent
and we're driven to set the objects of our adulation to numerical
cadence. On occasion a new direction to scientific inquiry is pointed to
by our obsessions, (we rely on the PhDs in our midst to do that - most
notably Lee Frelich). We also have our critics. A curmudgeon scientist
friend of mine finds little of value in our numbers and the way we
pattern forest dimensions. Perhaps he is right from a strictly
scientific standpoint, though I am far from convinced of that, but I,
for one, believe that just being in the forest, communing with it
through numerical patterning represents a higher form of communication
and needs no justification. Great forest citizens never lose their
identity or individuality in the ENTS world of numbers.

 ... material deleted
Re: Buttress Musings   Edward Frank
  Oct 06, 2005 19:06 PDT 


I always find it refreshing when someone posts a message or reply with a
philosophical bent. It is an expression of something other than simple
reporting of activities. But I am afraid I must take a different view of
your two types of ecologists. I can't envision someone who is fascinated by
the fact the rainbow forms when the sun comes out during a rain, not also
being equally fascinated by the diversity of color. I would be interested
in both aspects. I see the two as being complementary and not divergent

There is in some circles a idea, a mistaken idea in my opinion, that by
trying to understand how beauty works somehow detracts from its
appreciation. I understand Snell's Law, I know of the myriad of tiny water
droplets in the air, the angle of refraction of the sunlight, the continuum
of colors with dark absorption bands interposed. I know of legends of
leprechauns and pots of gold, legends of rainbows harkening a great event.
I think knowledge enhances the appreciation of the beauty involved. If I am
taking a numerical approach to something like buttress size, it helps me
understand what is occurring and enables me a greater degree of

Take the art of painting. If someone knows nothing about art they may look
at a painting and say "nice colors, but the images are not very realistic."
A Picasso may be derided for its cubic perspective. Van Gogh may be
described as colorful and dramatic, but the thick paint will be looked at
askance. With some knowledge of painting, the viewer better will understand
what the artist is trying to achieve. He will be able to see subtleties in
the works that are not apparent to the casual viewer. He will have
perspective on the time and place of the painting. Knowledge of art
increases the ability to appreciate its merits and beauty. Scientific
knowledge likewise enhances the ability of the viewer to appreciate what
they are seeing in nature.

Ed Frank

"What you see depends mainly on what you look for." Richard J. Vogl