Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tree Sleuth

For awhile I've been, with varying degrees of effort, trying to find out what some of the trees in our yard are. I recognize the leaves of the oaks and maples and the needles of the pines and cypress but there are more that are a complete mystery to me.  It was made a bit more urgent today when I pried an immature fruit/nut from one of the unidentified trees out of Lightning's mouth.  Luckily I happened on a website called Native Plants for Georgia and found some quick answers!

They identify this as a Tulip Poplar, a member of the magnolia family, and is one of the leaves I've been curious about.  I've seen 3-4 of these in the edges of our woods.  All but one of ours are about 2 feet high, but the website says they can grow to 80-100 feet and have these orange-yellow tulip-like flowers in April and early May.

The green nut I took away from the dog appears to be from a Mockernut Hickory tree.  At least it's not something that will poison them!  Two of the three trees nearest the house have leaves like this (the other is an oak) and have been dropping green, though growing, nuts when the wind blows the last week or so.

I also learned we have one or more Sweetgums, most easily identified (to me, anyway) by these spiky seed husks that I think will make great additions to pine cone laden Christmas wreaths!

And our plentiful pines are Long Leaf Pines.  Their habit of only having needle bundles on high branches, an environmental adaptation from enduring fires on the coastal plains, makes them a good canopy tree in our woods.  Unlike the shallow root ball I'm accustomed to seeing on pine species, these have a deep tap root.  Learning that makes me feel better about a couple of them that are clinging to the edge of where a former inhabitant of this property graded for better drainage around the house.  Their large cones will also make welcome addition to the wreaths I'm dreaming about making for the coming holiday season.

This leaf was a contender when I was trying to identify the figs... which I'm beginning to doubt are in my yard.  It's a Sassafras tree.  Best collected in the fall, the dried and crushed leaves can be used to flavor gumbo.  I'll have to keep that in mind and gather some...

And it seems we have 2-3 different varieties of oak. Some produce acorns of a good size and others are so small that 3 will fit on the surface of a quarter... Another interesting addition to the holiday wreath building.

As you can see we have a pretty diverse woods.  And I'm excited to see that many of the trees have leaves that turn colors in the fall.  I bet the display of yellow, gold, amber, and red will be beautiful!

1 comment:

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