Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree! Fraser firs throughout the Appalachian Mountains have been decimated by the balsam woolly adelgid, an aphid like insect. I captured these images on a backpacking trip to Grayson Highlands Virginia with my Boy Scout Troop last September.
This Fraser fir stands as a monument in a large open area between two balds on Wilburn Ridge along the Appalachian Trail. Despite the disparaging loss of so many of these beautiful trees, there is a haunting beauty found in these lingering ghosts.
Ironically, there is a thriving Fraser Fir Christmas tree industry in the surrounding highlands. While short-term chemical treatments protect specimen trees sold to consumers, there are several research efforts underway to develop long-term strategies to protect the Fraser fir. These include development of disease resistant variants which one day could be reintroduced to eastern highland forests.
For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday observances!