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”

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Field Trip Leavings (Meadow Tree Trail)

honeylocust
Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Field Trip Leavings is a short essay I wrote after an autumn ramble through the Meadow Tree Trail at Warner Park Nature Center. I’m delighted to report it has been published in The Fourth River“a journal of nature and place-based writing published by Chatham University’s MFA in Creative Writing Programs.” Continue reading “Field Trip Leavings (Meadow Tree Trail)”

Crepe Myrtle Confetti After a Storm

Last night’s quick storm left evidence, but mostly of the subtle kind. We didn’t have to leap over any downed hackberry trees on our morning dog-walk. We did step on confetti, and lots of it.

Crepe myrtle wins as leading indicator of subtle disturbance because blooms are at their peak, and the neighborhood—and the city, and the South—has plenty of crepe myrtle. The flowers are available to be ripped in quantities and spun where directed. Red, pink and white confetti line streets and sidewalks, and in more than one lawn lie atop as if sprinkled by a careful hand.  Continue reading “Crepe Myrtle Confetti After a Storm”

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””

Willow oak flowers

willow oak leaf bud burst
leaves just emerging
willow oak female flowers
in the leaf axils: female flowers (future acorns if fertilized)

Willow oak (Quercus phellos) leaves emerging.
Remember how the elms flowered and fruited first, and then leafed? Oaks let it all hang out at the same time. And unlike elms, oaks are helped by pollinating insects.

I’ve loved three willow oaks so far: Continue reading “Willow oak flowers”

Black locust bloom

black locust sapling
Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Look around the interstates right now, and the white trees you see are black. Black locust. There may be dogwood lingering, and I hope there is, but the two can’t be confused. Locust blooms are not little white plates stretched on graceful branches in the understory: rather, they are white bunches of grapes drooped from scraggly canopy. And they smell divine. Continue reading “Black locust bloom”

If You Like Wisteria

wisteria 21st
Wisteria floribunda at 2400 21st Ave. South

If you like wisteria,

If you can momentarily forget this is the exotic wisteria classed as invasive here,

If you need to lie on a blanket and see sky through cascades of blue-violet racemes,

and if allergies permit fragrance in Surround Sound,

go to the front lawn of the old Catholic Diocese on 21st Avenue South. Evening air intensifies the scent.

* Continue reading “If You Like Wisteria”

When Leaves Don’t Leave: Marcescence

beech leaves
last year’s beech leaves and bud for this year’s leaves

Quick. I have to talk about old leaves before new leaves happen. Saw a tulip poplar headed toward budburst this morning, so I need to hurry.

Have you noticed how some deciduous trees drop every leaf in fall, but others hang on to leaves all winter? Oaks, for example? I’d wondered about oaks for years, and was never satisfied with the “they used to be evergreen” explanation, despite seeing always-green Live Oaks just one state over. Continue reading “When Leaves Don’t Leave: Marcescence”