Pine Tree Parents

by The Old Scot

It is the nature of all living things to reproduce themselves, to produce the next generation of their kind. But when trees in dense forests try to do so, they often encounter a serious problem: there is no place for their offspring to grow. Even though there may be plenty of room on the forest floor, the leafy canopy overhead blocks out the essential sunlight. The result is that seedlings cannot get a real foothold on life.

The parent trees attack this problem in various ways. Some produce "winged" seeds, or seeds with "parachutes," which can be carried away by wind currents. Others depend upon birds or squirrels or other small seed-nibblers to carry away and hide more seeds than they will eat. Still others equip their seeds to lie dormant for many years until the right conditions for sprouting exist.

But perhaps the strangest provision for the next generation of trees is that made by some species of pine. These trees hold their children close in the womb until a forest fire clears a space for them.

While the cones of most conifers open when they are ripe to allow the seeds to fall, the cones of these pines remain tightly closed. Only one thing will cause the cones to spread their scales and release the seeds within: extreme heat. Frequently it is only the heat generated by the torching of the parent tree which opens the cones. These pines give birth only in the throes of death!

Only thus can they insure living space for their progeny. And thus also is provision made to heal the forest fire's wound and reclothe the blackened hills with new growth.

But we must ask: How did this come about? Is this the end result of an evolutionary chain of adaptations, as many would claim?

The theory of evolution would have us believe that little by little, as eons passed by, these pine tree species moved further and further from the normal summer-time dropping of seeds, toward never dropping them until calamity strikes. Could intermediate methods have worked? They could not! The first changes toward requiring ever-greater heat for seed release would have meant that any little fire, or lightning bolt, or even a hot sunny day, would have triggered the dispersal-without creating the necessary break in the forest canopy overhead.

No, we see yet again that there is really no place for trial-and-error development, nor for incremental development-though both of these concepts are required by the evolutionary theory. To function at all, the finished system had to be in place and operational.

This points, of course, to the Master Planner, who lovingly fashioned each individual element of Nature, and gave to each species the unique properties which would sustain that species, and at the same time create a harmonious whole. We are looking at the handiwork of God.

Our Creator watches over every blade of grass, as well as the cows which eat the grass and those who drink the cows' milk. And, lest we think too highly of ourselves, His Word reminds us that: "As for man, his days are as grass: As a flow of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone" (Ps. 103:15-16).

We are not here forever, nor are we here without a purpose. Purpose is inherent in the design of every leaf, every rock and rill, every creature-and not least, every human being. The Bible tells us what this purpose is, in Revelation 4:11: "Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."

We were created to give God the pleasure, the joy that a father feels-that parents feel, when their children return their love.

While man's rebellion against the peace and purposes of God has forestalled this fulfillment at present, the Bible foretells a time coming when Jesus Christ, our Lord, will step dramatically back into history to bind up Nature's wounds and bring peace again upon Earth. But we do not have to await that time to make our individual peace with God. He gives heart-peace and joy, even in the midst of perils and persecution, to all who call in true faith upon the name of His Son.


Biology of Plants, 2nd ed., Peter H. Raven, Ray F. Evart & Helena Curtis, Worth Publishers, NY, 1976, p. 334. Plant and Planet, Anthony Huxley, Viking Press, NY, p. 164.

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