Cook pines lean conspicuously to one side. Krishnamani Ananthanarayanan/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

California’s Mysterious Cook Pines

All of California’s Cook pines lean conspicuously in the same direction, as though buffeted by strong winds. The quirk of the otherwise unremarkable tree was discovered a some years ago by Matt Ritter, a botany professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He reached out to a colleague in Australia to ask about the Cook pines there. “He said, ‘Yeah, they all lean north.’ And I said, ‘You mean south,’” Ritter told a campus publication.

After more research, Ritter concluded that Cook pines around the globe all lean toward the equator — and the further away they are, they greater the slant. The trait had never before been documented in the plant kingdom. Why is another mystery altogether. L.A. Times | New Scientist

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