In going across the Range from the Tuolumne River Soda Springs to Mono Lake one makes the acquaintance of the curious little Nut Pine (Pinus monophylla). It dots the eastern flank of the Sierra to which it is mostly restricted in grayish bush-like patches, from the margin of the sage-plains to an elevation of from 7000 to 8000 feet. A more contented, fruitful and unaspiring conifer could not be conceived. All the species we have been sketching make departures more or less distant from the typical spire form, but none goes so far as this. Without any apparent cause it keeps near the ground, throwing out crooked, divergent branches like an orchard apple-tree, and seldom pushes a single shoot higher than fifteen or twenty feet above the ground.

The average thickness of the trunk is, perhaps, about ten or twelve inches. The leaves are mostly undivided, like round awls, instead of being separated, like those of other pines, into twos and threes and fives. The cones are green while growing, and are usually found over all the tree, forming quite a marked feature as seen against the bluish-gray foliage. They are quite small, only about two inches in length, and seem to have but little space for seeds; but when we come to open them, we find that about half the entire bulk of the cone is made up of sweet, nutritious nuts, nearly as large as hazel-nuts. This is undoubtedly the most important food-tree on the Sierra, and furnishes the Mona, Carson, and Walker River Indians with more and better nuts than all the other species taken together. It is the Indian’s own tree, and many a white man have they killed for cutting it down. Being so low, the cones are readily beaten off with poles, and the nuts procured by roasting them until the scales open. In bountiful seasons a single Indian may gather thirty or forty bushels.

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