Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Turkish Filbert

The Turkish filbert, or Turkish hazel, (Corylus colurna) is in the Birch family. All members of the family have male and female catkins on the same tree. Here are the filbert's male catkins. They will hang on all winter and mature in the spring.

The leaves are cordate at the base and have double-serrate margins.

The corky outer bark is grey, but when it exfoliates, reveals reddish-brown inner bark.

The tree has a pyramidal form with most limbs perpendicular to the trunk.

The nuts are encased in a stiff, bristly husk called an involucre. They come in clusters, the involucres joined at the base.

Here are some nuts still on the tree in late summer.

And here's one of the filbert's guests. All of its visitors are harmless; the filbert is not susceptible to any major diseases or pests.

winter tree identification

Just as I seemed to be getting better at identifying trees, they went and lost all their leaves. I've started to use bud and twig keys, but it will be a while before all of the buds stop looking the same to me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Excited for the first big snow, I trudged over to the 9th Ave. entrance this morning only to find that the cemetery was closed. I looked in through the gates and decided I'd try later.

But this afternoon, no change...

Saturday, December 19, 2009



Even completely leafless, the beeches are beautiful. This one was drying off after a morning rain...

and this one was starting to get covered in snow earlier today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum, like Metasequoia, is a deciduous conifer: unlike most cone-bearing trees, its changes color and drops its leaves in the fall. The feathery leaves are made of needles that appear two-ranked but are actually arranged spirally on branchlets.

The globular cones are covered with peltate scales.

Here are two bald cypresses side by side. The far one has turned red ahead of its neighbor.

Bald cypress has a conical shape when young. At maturity, it has a more cylindrical form with a rounded top. Bald cypress is also called swamp cypress because of its occurrence in low, wet land. When it grows near or in water, woody knobs protrude up from the roots. These "knees" were thought to help with oxygen intake, but the current dominant theory is that they help provide stability in loose substrates.

These cones are closer to maturity.

Behind each scale, there are two seeds. Although bald cypresses are known for their ability to live in flood-prone areas, seeds immersed in water will not germinate. Seedlings have to establish themselves in well-drained or saturated soil before they are able to survive in standing water.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This sourwood was at peak fall color about three weeks ago with candy pinks and peaches on the ground...

and some redder leaves still on the tree.

Oxydendrum arboreum, a member of the Heath family, gets both its common and its scientific name from the sour taste of its leaves.

Sourwood bark has deep irregular fissures and is gray with reddish tints in the crevices.

The ovate leaves are about five inches long.

The fruit, in woody capsules, stays on the tree throughout the fall.

Here are two photos of another sourwood from late summer. There are still a few blooms on each raceme. The flowers are reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley.

All the leaves are green, but the flowers give hints of white just as the fruit does in the fall.