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Posts Tagged ‘Maple’

This post is about finding beautiful things in unexpected places, which seems to be happening a lot lately.

1. Curly Dock Seed Head

Curly dock (Rumex crispus) is a roadside weed that wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but the seeds left from last fall were very beautiful indeed.

2. New Maple Leaves

The orange color found in these new spring maple leaves gives just a hint of the brilliant display that will come later on in the fall.

3. Flowering Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) blooms when the trout lilies do and can be seen everywhere right now. The upper, creamy yellow parts are the male stamens and the lower white, string like parts are the female pistils. The leaves look a lot like course grass, so this is an easy plant to miss when it isn’t blooming.

4. Furry Fiddleheads

These are the fuzziest fern fiddleheads I’ve ever found. I think they are interrupted fern (Osmunda Claytoniana.)

5. Indian Pipe

I like looking for last year’s Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) plants because they look so very different than the pale, ghostly things they once were. This one looked like it had been carved.

6. Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knot weed (Polygonum cuspidatum ) is one of the most invasive plants known but in early spring, just as the new shoots are coming up, they are amazing things to behold. I always want to sit beside them and draw them so I can gain a better understanding of their remarkable curves, twists and turns.

7. Lilac Buds

The just opened buds of lilac (Syringa) look like tiny grape clusters.

8. Pink Lady's Slipper Shoots

A man stopped while I was taking pictures one day and asked me what I was doing. After talking for a while he gave me a tip about where I might find some ram’s head lady’s slippers (Cypripedium arietinum) which the Forest Service lists as “rare and critically imperiled” in New Hampshire. Needless to say if the man who told me about them was correct, it would be quite a find. Unfortunately, he also told me that people used to dig them up at that location. In any event, I’m watching the shoots of the pink lady’s slipper in the above photo, hoping they’ll tell me when I should look for the ram’s head orchids. They are a very beautiful flower that is rarely seen.

9. Pink Lady's Slipper Seed Pod

The woody seed pod of a pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule.) Several of these plants have colonized my yard and I’m very happy to see them producing seeds.

10. Striped Maple Buds

Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum ) buds show hints of pink, rose, and even orange, according to my color finding software. I don’t see all of those colors when I look at them, but they seem to have an aura, almost as if they were lit from within.

11. New Beech Leaves

 At this time of year it looks as if someone had traveled through the forest with a basket of green and silver feathers, hanging them on the branch tips of all the Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia.)

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness. ~Michelangelo

Thanks for coming by.

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For this post science has bet set aside in favor of the beauty of things we might not think of as beautiful. Spring is certainly the time for wildflowers but there are many other things happening in the forest as well. One of those is bud break, when leaves of every kind begin to unfurl. Sometimes emerging leaves can be every bit as beautiful as spring flowers and sometimes not, but beautiful or not, it is always interesting to see plants at this stage.

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Buds. These are often called candles in the nursery trade. New Norway maple (Acer platanoides) leaves. More new maple leaves. I think the contrast between the leaves of the red maple (Acer rubrum ) shown here and those of the Norway maple in the previous photo is amazing.

Japanese knotweed is an invasive species, but I thought its unfurling buds were very beautiful. Unfortunately this plant spreads rapidly and chokes out native species. It was imported as an ornamental in the 1800s from Japan. Maybe the side of it seen here was the reason why. New Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) leaves and flower bracts from last fall’s blooms. It takes a full year for witch hazel flowers to become fruit.

 New leaves of box elder (Acer negundo.)  The box elder is in the maple family and is the only maple with compound leaves. It isn’t hard to see why “stag horn” became part of this sumac’s name (Rhus typhina.) The fruit of staghorn sumac is an important winter emergency food for birds and other wildlife. I thought that these American beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves were every bit as beautiful as a flower. They seemed to have a gray ‘aura’ along their outside edges, or maybe it was just the way the light was shining on them. These and many other plants are showing their leaves up to three weeks early. A hard freeze now would do a lot of damage, especially to fruit trees. Orchardists are anxiously waiting for mid-May when the danger will have passed. Emerging fiddleheads of Maidenhair fern. I think that these are the most beautiful and delicate of all the ferns, and are one of my favorites.  They grow in hardwood forests in soils with relatively high levels of moisture, nutrients, and high-quality organic matter, so they aren’t often seen in the wild. I have some growing in a shady spot here in the yard. At this stage they are a magical thing to see. What I think is cut leaved toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) seemed to be caught in a strong wind, even though there wasn’t even a gentle breeze blowing.  I was fascinated by the movement in these leaf buds as they opened and sat studying the plant for quite a little while, fully absorbed in its world and lost to my own.

“Now is the time of the illuminated woods … when every leaf glows like a tiny lamp.”  ~ J. Burroughs 

I hope that you have also had time to see the wonders of nature unfolding. Thanks for stopping in.

 

 

 

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