Saturday, October 29, 2011

one path, four leaves

I've been feeling bad that I haven't been writing and posting more so this morning I figured I would use my phone to snap a few quick pics while on my morning walk setting up my work day. Here's a tiny installment of some of the fall foliage out there these days...
Sassafras albidum (common sassafras)
Called "the mitten tree" by my mother-in-law the leaves of this tree are variable, meaning they can take a few different shapes. Often you will see them like the one above with leaves that have one or two sinuses (the "dimples" or depressions in the leaf) and otherwise those large, rounded lobes. Sassafras love a wet location so you will find groves of them near waterbodies where they can still get some sun. They can be a great understory tree and advantageous colonizer when revitalizing woodland areas.

Quercus alba (white oak)
When beginning to learn species within the massive genus of oak trees, botanically known as Quercus, one of the first steps is learning the difference between the pointed, bristle-tipped oaks and the softer lobed oaks. The one above, with those pronounced lobes that are softer and smoother looking indicate that it is in the white oak group. In this case, I imagine this is a white oak, as they often have this fabulous deep red to maroon fall color. The other oaks, the ones with the more pointed bristle-tips are red oaks and their various relatives, and they too can have remarkable fall color. Most oaks take on a much more earthy bronze fall color but some like this white oak and the scarlet oak, a bristle-tipped oak named Quercus coccinea, show off these rich pigments of deeper reds and purples.

Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Liriodendron, like all the others in this post, is a North American native and wonderful tree to find in the woods. Commonly called a tulip tree, Liriodendron produce a flower in spring that looks like a green, orange and yellow tulip blooming on the large angular branches that grow overhead. The tree itself can often be easily identified in the landscape because they can grow straight as an arrow and reach up to 100' comfortably. In the fall the color of the foliage is a rich, vibrant yellow. I tend to think that the leaf too seems to resemble a tulip's silhouette but I am not sure if that has any link to the common name.

Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
If you didn't know you might think this tree was some kind of maple with that five-pointed leaf and insane red fall color. But alas, it is it's own species, commonly known as a sweetgum. As far as stunning native trees I have always liked sweetgums, and when fall comes around you realize why they always make the various "top ten" fall foliage lists. The tree itself is not necessarily as tough as some of the oaks and maples out there but situated in the right spot they thrive and add great character to our woodland settings.

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