Vegetation: Giant tree species' coastal redwood, big-leaf maple, giant hemlock, Douglas fir, sitka spruce, and giant eucalyptus.
The temperate rain forest on the north coast of California is home to the worlds tallest trees: the coastal redwood. The moderate climate, minimal changes in seasons (the average temperature year round is 60° F, or 15° C), and ample rainfall allow trees to grow all year. Up to 150 inches (381 centimeters) of rain falls in the temperate rain forest each year. Favorable growing conditions allow plants, but especially trees, to grow to enormous proportions. For example, in Washington States Olympic Peninsula, a 420 foot (127 meters) Douglas fir was chopped down in 1895. This tree was taller than a modern day redwood by 60 feet (18. 3 meters). Other giants rival the coastal redwood. In the temperate rain forests of New Zealand and Australia, several giant species of eucalyptus challenge the redwoods height. Other giant trees are found in the forests of coastal British Columbia and southeastern Alaska. The sitka spruce, the world's tallest spruce, is the dominant tree in these forests and towers 165 feet (50 meters) from the ground.
During the spring in the mixed forest, located across eastern Canada and New England states, the temperature remains below freezing. A thin layer of snow still covers the ground and trees, except for the occasional pines and evergreen shrubs, remain leafless and bare. Plants like the skunk cabbage and snowdrop flowers can be seen poking through the snow. Although daytime temperatures are warming up, in the night the temperature can drop below freezing.
Spring flowers are special quick blooming plants called ephemerals. These flowers grow and bloom before shrubs and trees leaf out and cut off their sun supply. They only bloom for a few weeks in the spring. From mid-March to mid-May different types of flowers, all only blooming for a few weeks at a time, take turns living on the forest floor.
Trees and shrubs are always a major part of the temperate forest that survives through each season. The spring is when the trees come to life and start to grow. This is because, in the spring, sap starts to flow in the trees, bringing nutrients to every branch. Sap allows trees to grow and leaf out. Different trees grow at different times. In the woody plants a growing pattern exists. First, the buds on the smaller shrubs open. Then the smaller trees, including the black cherry and dogwood, leaf out. Lastly, the larger trees take turns leafing out. For example, the maple grows its leaves earlier in spring while the oak reserves its leaves for later in the spring when the temperatures get warmer. In mid-June the forest's canopy is fully formed and it becomes a place of life, beauty, and shade.
In the summer plants are fully productive. Plants with fruit become ripe and the fruit are eaten or drop to the ground so seeds can be scattered. Other plants cast their seeds in the wind or have animals help spread the seeds. Among the plants fungi also grows. The humid, moist woods are a perfect climate for fungi to grow. After a rain, more mushrooms grow because any agitation can cause spores to be released into the air. When the spores settle in the soil, or other decaying plant material, a new mushroom grows.
At the end of summer plant and animal life is at its fullest. Animals have matured and plants are fertile and in full bloom. In the fall things change. Animals breed and start getting ready for the winter and plants stop growing. The temperature also begins to drop during the fall as cool, crisp air replaces the hot, humid air.
In the mid-fall trees begin to lose their leaves. Deciduous trees lose their leaves so they do not die during the long winter drought. During the spring and summer, leaves lose a lot of water to evaporation. However, the tree does not die of dehydration because the soil is moist and a sufficient amount of water is available to the roots. During the winter the ground is frozen solid and roots do not receive much water. Trees need to keep as much water as possible from evaporating so they do not die. So, the trees lose their leaves, stunt their growth, and go into a dormant state so they can survive with an insufficient amount of water during the winter. In order for trees to get rid of their leaves, they need to gradually build up a cell wall at the stem of each leaf. The wall slowly grows across the stem and acts as a valve that cuts off essential nutrients, like sugars and chlorophyll, to the leaf. As less and less nutrients are allowed to the leaf it changes colors. It is obvious when a leaf loses chlorophyll because it turns yellow and orange. Later, the remaining sugars in the leaf cause it to turn red and deep purple. After all nutrients are cut off, the leaf turns brown and brittle and breaks off from the tree. The nutrients cut off from the leaves are stored in the branches, trunk, and roots of the tree until the spring.