Posts Tagged 'trees'



Graffiti

The tag of a bark-boring beetle, or something similar…?

Franklinia BK

I discovered recently that Green-Wood Cemetery has a couple of Franklin Trees (Franklinia alatamaha). One may be the largest specimen in the country. But don’t get too carried away: this is not a giant species. This one might be all of 20 feet tall. It sure does have fine autumnal foliage, though. Windfall fruit and seeds.

Franklinia is extinct in the wild, and all examples today are supposedly descendants of the ones the Bartarms collected in Georgia. Here’s one in bloom in the botanical parking lot.

Hickory Yellow

Traditionally, red leaves get most of the glory in the fall*, but don’t forget the yellows of beeches and hickories in the sunshine. A sight on the Jerome Wetlands Trail in Van Cortlandt Park: giant and youngsters of different Carya species. (Reproduced a little too orange above by the phone camera, though.)This image, with a camera camera, looks more like it. But there is no substitute for the human eyes.

*This weekend, many a leaf in Green-Wood came down in the cold snap green, as if fall hadn’t happened.

Ah, nuts!

“Filbert? Filbert? Where is that boy?”Turkish filbert or hazelnut (Corylus colurna). Shell and two halves of another.

The frilly husk, or bristly involucre to the hort pros, of the nut dries out to a gnarly, tentacled beauty. I was late this year and found only two twisted, nut-less examples under this Green-Wood tree, so here’s one from my wunderkammer:

Galls

You may know of my fascination with galls, the structures created by plants in response to insects. In the Botanisk Have in Copenhagen and in the Alnapsparken at Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, the Swedish agricultural college, I found these lovely knopper oak galls. They were growing on acorns of Quercus robur, the great oak of Europe, which we usually call the English Oak (cf. hearts thereof), but when in Rome, or more specifically Sweden, it’s skogsek. It is, of course, thanks to a Swede, one Carl von Linne — the family name comes from the lime (linden) trees on the family estate — who is better known as Linnaeus, who codified the binomial naming system that is supposed to be universal. So the full binomial for this oak is Quercus robur L., the initial standing for the namer, yup, Linnaeus. One of L.’s students was the founder of the precursor institutions of the SLU.A gall wasp, Andricus quercuscalicis, causes these oaks to form these when they lay their eggs on the emerging acorns. These wasps need Turkey Oaks (Quercus cerris L.) to complete their life cycle, so finding them in botanical garden settings makes a lot more sense then finding them out in the “wild,” where these other oaks are a lot less common (Q. cerris is native to southeastern Europe and Anatolia/Asia Minor).

Galls like these are full of tannin, a gallic acid which has been used for centuries as a component of iron gall ink. The Magna Carta, Beowulf, and the Lindisfarne gospels were all written in this stuff, which is made from the galls (Oak Apple galls in these cases), iron sulfate, and water.

In Sweden

I particularly wanted to see some sloes, the marble-sized drupes of the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). My walking stick, which saw me around Dartmoor, is made from the storied wood of this shrubby, hedgy, sometimes-tree. There’s much legend associated with this species; and (black) magic, like, for instance, how they find a long straight piece for a walking stick… Meanwhile, Slån is the Swedish name for this source of sloe gin. The drupes are not very palatable until they’ve been soaked in gin and sugar… but we did see some young Wood Pigeons gobbling them up.I hadn’t realized that hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) or Igelkott was on the menu, so to speak, of sights. But our nighttime safari-leader Evan turned one up not two blocks from our lodgings in Skanör. The animal was bigger than expected, about the size of an American football. They bulk up for winter hibernation. After we determined it was not a rock on the lawn, the critter took shelter in a mess of rose and ivy and some kind of diptera aroused by our light. We searched again the next two nights but found no others; this source says they can forage for up to 2 km during the night.

I haven’t yet downloaded my camera camera, as opposed to my phone camera, so pictures of the Kingfisher will have to wait. One was definitely on my list of things to see (we saw two)… But here is a fine consolation prize, worth two in the camera:A Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) after being ringed (or banded, as we would say) by members of the Falsterbo Fågelstation bird observatory. This little songbird is on its way to central/southern Africa, presuming it survives the gauntlet, including the Sahara, along the way.
And then, all things being just, it will return north in the spring.

Great numbers of migrating birds fly over the Falsterbo peninsula, which sticks out like a T from the southwest corner of Sweden, during the fall. It’s the shortest distance over water to Denmark and non-pelagic birds don’t like being over the water too long. The observatory keeps a daily count of passing birds and rings a few in the lighthouse garden and the nearby Flommen reedbeds, where the warbler above was netted, ringed, sexed/aged, weighed/checked for body fat, recorded, and released.

North Woods

We were in Skåne, Sweden’s southern-most county, largely flat and agricultural. But there were certainly pockets of woodlands.And mushrooms.And the fabled Röd flugsvamp (Amanita muscaria), which the Vikings used to get up and go… berserk in the morning.


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