Sidewalk Nature: Earth Day

Our kid is sick, I’m stuck at home, and it’s too cold and wet to sit in the yard. But, I have been able to get out for two neighborhood walks.
Here is my report for Earth Day:

Saw confirmation the Osage Orange tree we drive past every is a boy. I’m still learning the gender spectrum of tree species: some are male, some are female, some are both. Some have “perfect” flowers with male and female bits, and some trees can surprise you with twigs that morph into one or the other. Osage Orange trees are dioecious: either male or female (usually), and now I know not to expect fruit from this particular specimen. These flowers are male:

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Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera), male flowers

Continue reading “Sidewalk Nature: Earth Day”

Sidewalk Nature: Maple Flower Flurries

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male flowers of the sugar maple

Maple flower flurries.

No sitting on the porch with a teacup today: falling flowers flit past the brim despite my hand as cover.

This is one of those milestones of spring easily missed, especially if you don’t happen to live or walk or park under a Sugar Maple.
I love this moment. It helps make up for the maple flowers leaving, and the maple leaves coming.
If I pay attention to all the steps—from bud to budburst to flower to leaf to fruit—spring feels slower, more manageable, less panicked. Continue reading “Sidewalk Nature: Maple Flower Flurries”

Nashville’s Mustard

There are swaths of yellow right now in Elmington Park: small yellow blooms massed in the lawn. I hope the city doesn’t mow soon, because the yellow is Nashville mustard—our mustard—and it needs to go to seed and spread. I saw it on the way to Hebrew School, and as soon as I could, I went back and parked the car in the lot, then parked my body flat on the grass.

Continue reading “Nashville’s Mustard”

Cedar Apple

To me, this particular “spring ephemeral” is as welcome as a wildflower. It is a sign of the season: a “cedar apple,” doing its wacky thing in wet spring weather. This one is on our volunteer red-cedar tree in the front yard, and I’ve been waiting for the rusty, dry galls to wake from winter. Continue reading “Cedar Apple”

White Pine “Flowers”

Holy pollen, I’ve lived next door to a white pine for years and hadn’t noticed the flowers till today. Now is prime bloom time, so where is your nearest white pine? Surely there is one, or a dozen close by. They are natives here, but are widely planted as ornamentals and living privacy fences. Gated communities adore them because they screen out the riffraff 365 days a year, except when the riffraff comes to mow.  Continue reading “White Pine “Flowers””

Driveway-Crack Flowers: White Clover

clover closeup

White clover seeded itself into our driveway cracks, so I took photos yesterday, the better to learn it.

Each flower is flowers: a globe of up to 50 tiny flowers, each with “a small standard and two side petals that enclose the keel.” So says Illinioswildflowers.info.

Standard? Like the synonym for flag?  Continue reading “Driveway-Crack Flowers: White Clover”