Posts Tagged 'trees'


Sassafras albidumThese two giants surprised me in Green-Wood recently. They’re Sassafrass (Sassafras albidum), usually seen as a rather smaller tree. Sassafras albidumI did a double-take or three. But there they were, the distinctive three leaf-shapes. And check out this bark, characteristic of old specimens: it is deeply, deeply furrowed, like the Southwestern canyon-lands.

White Oak

Quercus albaThe pale underside of some Eastern White Oak (Quercus alba) leaves found on Mt. Taurus.Quercus albaThis is another specimen of the tree, two weeks later, in Green-Wood. It’s been a spectacular fall. Q albaSame tree, with some Hedgehog Galls. I also explore these fuzzy galls a little more here.


resinA fist-sized clump of resin. Usually associated with coniferous trees, this frozen waterfall of hydrocarbons, and several others, were on a deciduous tree I couldn’t identify on the Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown. (The grounds are a 19th century landscaper’s dream, rich with exotica.)

Resins seem to have a defensive function, battling insects and smaller threats. Better living through chemistry? Humans have long used such resins for incense (as in the biblical frankincense and myrrh) and perfume, varnish, and glues. Honeybees certainly exploit the prophylactic value of resin in their product propolis, which is used to reinforce their hives against harmful bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

And over the long, long haul, the wondrous substance amber is just resin plus time. The choicest pieces of fossilized resin, at least outside the jewelry world, have insects perfectly preserved inside of them. Insects tens of millions of years old and preserved down to the finest detail.

“Amber” is from the Arabic ‘anbar, and originally referred to what we now call ambergris, the strange intestinal product of sperm whales. There was a lack of knowledge over the source of ambergris, or grey amber, and since ambre jaune, or yellow amber, was also found washed up on the shore, they were thought to be related. As Melville noted, it was hard to reconcile the perfumes made with ambergris with the guts of a whale, probably harder to reconcile than rich scents from the blood of trees.

What a fall!

LullwaterThe Lullwater. Wood Ducks and a Pied Grebe and turtles and meadowhawks.Red MapleRed Maple (Acer rubrum) burning up the Vale.


IMG_8469One last boating trip of the year.p2The Commodore headed up the Hudson for a look at the leaves.p4A hazy afternoon made for some impressionistic views.p3


BeechwoodThis is an approximation of the light on this appropriately yellow-blazed trail on Saturday afternoon. It was a tonic that cured what ailed us. Whatever it was that ailed us. The sun had a been a little spotty before this, and the scrubby oaks atop the hill were mostly fallen, so coming into this batch of American Beech was absolutely magical.

The forest for the trees

TaurusTreesA hike in the fall woods is always a sensual and philosophical experience.KatydidI was in a yellow light under oaks and beeches in an overcast sky, later speared through by shafts of sunlight.Yes, both the woods and I were speared. My eyes kept shifting from the whole to the parts. Walking over even relatively smooth trails still requires at least one eye on the path for rocks and roots and unexpected katydids. You can just see one of the animal’s tympana, or ears, on the top foreleg, just under the joint, here.Shroom1And of course you must stop, and catch your breath, which has run away from you, and turn around. I mean all the way around.Shroom2This Chicken-of-the-Woods, with its cascade of yellow and orange petticoats, wouldn’t have been noticed otherwise.


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