Prunus mexicana

A Long-Overdue Walk in the Woods, Part I: Adventures in Tree ID

Sleipnir’s fetlocks!  The human female has ACTUALLY shoved her trotters into hiking boots and dragged her saggy fundament out into the woods.  She’s out at Lick Creek Park, helping some Honors Biology students who are learning how to run transects, census trees, and measure weird things like Diameter at Breast Height. (I don’t want to know.)

Because of all the cold weather and gray skies this winter, the local flora is LATE.  Things should be leaping into flower right about now, but nary a blossom is in sight.  The human female is having to dust off her knowledge of Trees in Winter Condition.  I’m letting all the talk of bud scales, leaf scars, and lentils go in one ear and out the other, but Sigyn is hanging on every syllable.

Oh, well, I guess I am hanging too.


Now that I look, this is very interesting.  We have here crustose, fruticose, AND foliose lichens, all on one branch.  Not precisely plants, but they are at least green.

Now we are getting to the trees.  This is winged elm.  No leaves, but the twigs are good and weird.

winged elm.jpg

They are all flat, and.. bacony.

Hold!  What’s this?!  Finally, something in bloom!  And it’s not some tiny, timid, little spring wildflower, it’s a big tree!   Mexican plum doesn’t look like much when its wearing its leaves later on, but it’s surely showy now.


Time for some serious dangling. Sigyn’s out of practice–we both are–but look at that form!


She’s perfection.

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A Foggy Walk, Part II: I spy, with my little eye…

…something beginning with "T"

Why, yes, Sigyn, it is a tree. Fancy that.

It appears to be the season for the trees to put forth their new foliage. Look how shiny these new leaves are. The human female says this is a "chokecherry." I am filing this tidbit of information away because I think it may be useful later. For example, if my sister-in-law comes to tea…


The oak trees are flinging out their catkins, which exist for the sole purpose of filling the air with as much pollen as possible. The human female is allergic to oak pollen. Also elm pollen, pecan pollen, hickory pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, and pollen pollen. (It takes a certain monolithic stubbornness to become a botanist when you are allergic to practically anything with chlorophyll. I am –grudgingly– impressed.) Fortunately, my dear Sigyn has no such frailties and finds that young oak twigs are good to swing upon.


I think I will gather some of these slender pollen-bomb catkins and shake them thoroughly into the human female’s pillow case.

This oak is still wearing last year’s leaves, even though it is of a deciduous variety. Clearly, it is confused.


By Fandral’s mustache, what is that?


The human female says it is the "emerging inflorescence of a popular." Well, I don’t know how popular it is, but it is certainly bizarre-looking.

Oh, I see. Here is one that is a little older. More pollen!


That is considerably less nightmarish.

Oh, here is a tree with actual, recognizable flowers. Sigyn thinks it smells delicious and I concur. Ehehehehe! Her climbing is making the tree shake down a snowfall of petals.


Look what else has fallen! I am so glad Sigyn wasn’t standing under it when it fell!


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