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Rolling White Pine Cone

2-9-18 white pine cone 049A2427

Leave it to NC readers to recognize yesterday’s Mystery Photo! I was impressed with the fat tire track guesses – something I would never ever recognize! With the help of the wind and a gentle slope, a White Pine cone rolled down a hill, leaving the imprint of its spirally-arranged scales in a repetitive pattern. The fall cone crop of many conifers this year was extreme, so your chances of coming across this track are great this winter.

All species of pines produce cones with scales that overlap each other like fish scales. During cold, damp weather, these scales close tight to protect the seeds within them from bad weather and hungry animals. When the weather is conducive to germination (warm and dry) the scales open, allowing seeds to escape. Even after cones fall from the tree, their scales can still open and close.

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9 responses

  1. Dick Bennett

    Thank you! Neato!

    Sent from my iPhone


    February 9, 2018 at 7:19 am

  2. Sandy


    February 9, 2018 at 7:23 am

  3. Diane

    Ha ha ha!

    February 9, 2018 at 7:46 am

  4. Bern R

    laughing here. Don’t look at the bottom of the photo and see if you can guess what made these tracks. love mom


    February 9, 2018 at 8:36 am

  5. Rainie

    I’d have guessed FAT-TIRED BIKE. The on the morning of 2017’s first snowfall we walked on the wonderful MASCOMA RIVER GREENWAY . It was clear that a rider, not a pinecone, had preceded us.

    February 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

  6. Cecelia

    It would be fun if there were a prize for being the first to guess the answer to one of your mystery questions—a string of emojis?

    February 9, 2018 at 9:51 am

  7. Jan Linskey

    REI is having a promotion using a logo much like your rolling pine cone aka mountain bike tire tread.

    February 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

  8. What an interesting puzzle that was. I really enjoyed reading the comments …Odd that someone from a non-snow environment would get the correct answer …

    February 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm

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