I found myself in a pocket of beech trees one day and took a few photos. Beech and oak and a few shrubs are all we have for colorful foliage now.
Beech colors don’t last long though, and before you know it the leaves turn brown and curl. Like some oak leaves most beech leaves will stay on the younger trees through winter, rattling in the wind. Some believe that the beech hangs onto its dry leaves to hide its young buds from browsing animals.
Some shrubs still have good color too, like these burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) that grow in great long swaths along the river. They’re beautiful, but also one of the most invasive shrubs in the state. They grow in such impenetrable thickets that native plants can’t get a start. Another name for this one is winged euonymus and you are not allowed to sell it, import it into, or plant it in New Hampshire.
This is what makes the burning bush so invasive. Birds love its fruit and spread it far and wide. Introduced in the United States from Asia in 1860 as a garden ornamental, it is now present in 25 states and parts of Canada.
Another invasive plant is Chinese Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus.), It is a vine so tough that it can strangle young trees and topple older ones by growing in and adding a lot of weight to their crowns. Burning bushes and Chinese bittersweet are in the same family and both are very invasive. The bittersweet was introduced in 1879 and has made it as far west as the Rocky Mountains, as far south as Louisiana, and north to Maine. There is an American species of bittersweet (Celastrus scandens ) and the two plants hybridize naturally, making eradication close to impossible.
Usually deer will come along and chomp the entire head of berries from a Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum ) stem, but in this case it looks like both the deer and birds have shunned these examples. They look a little deformed so maybe the birds and animals know something about them that I don’t. A similar plant, also in the arum family, is called lords and ladies in the U.K.
Our native holly that is called winterberry (Ilex verticillata) looks nothing like the evergreen hollies we grow in our gardens. In fact for most of the year it is unremarkable and if you weren’t looking for it you wouldn’t pay any attention to it. Even its tiny flowers are hard to see, but in autumn after the leaves have fallen this plant announces its presence with a loud, red berried shout. Birds don’t eat these berries until very late in winter because they have a low fat content, so many people cut the branches and bring them inside for the holidays. I like to see them against the snowy background.
We’ve had both frosts and freezes here now so I took my camera out one icy morning to gather the evidence.
Actually, the evidence of frosts and freezes is everywhere you look, as this contorted fern frond shows.
This helianthus didn’t even have time to drop its petals before being flash frozen.
One frosty morning even though the Ashuelot River was steaming it still looked dark and cold. It won’t be long before ice forms along its shores and slowly creeps toward its middle.
If months were marked by colors, November in New England would be colored gray. ~Madeleine M. Kunin
Thanks for coming by.