|Our ECOS class examines the leaf growth patterns on a sugar maple.|
Our usual ECOS class destinations are nature preserves, but our intrepid instructor, Ruth Schottman, had chosen this more open space for us on Wednesday.
We were to begin our study of trees here because, Ruth said, "Open spaces are where trees can express themselves." That is, without crowding or competition, trees can achieve their natural form.
After some background information, we began with something fairly easy. Ruth pointed out the distinctive bark pattern of a sugar maple.
"See how the bark curves away in plates," she told us.
|The bark of a mature sugar maple.|
Although our primary topic was trees, we did pause to admire and identify other things we found as we roamed the park. Above, we looked at the silky, cobwebby, partial veil of a Cortina mushroom. It had such a lovely, pale lavender color.
I am getting more confident about our local native asters, which have really caught my fancy. I want to work at learning more about them. I just love them. They are so simple and pretty, yet tough and persistent.
|White Panicle Aster|
|White Wood Aster|
|New England Aster|
Throughout the morning, we looked at and compared the maples: the sugar maple; the ash-leaf maple, also called box elder; the silver maple. We looked at white pine, the shaggy bark of black cherry, and the deep-furrowed bark of black locust. We saw white ash and examined the leaves of cottonwood, a species of poplar, below.
|Bitternut hickory fruit.|
|Bark of Musclewood tree.|
|Beech branch with leaves and its long bud.|
But best of all was this: an American elm! How wonderful to see this tree growing and looking healthy in our region. Perhaps there is hope for the future of this species.
One final note:
Because I still have much to learn about native plants, I often check the USDA websites when I write blog posts like this one. The USDA plant profiles are very helpful to a beginner like me. But on this day, here is what I found at the United State Department of Agriculture websites:
Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.
After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to
become available again.