Monday, August 24, 2009
100 Species: the first 10
These are easy ones. I ran out just now and took some photos and voila. Actually, a few of these photos are older--obviously we're not in the middle of an ice storm, and my kids are a little older than they look in the last photo. But still.
1. Liquidamber styraciflua: The sweetgum tree. Most people hate these trees because they drop those big sticky balls (meaning sharp, not gooey) all over their lawns. I actually had a neighbor offer to cut mine down. But it's a street tree (meaning only half mine, and half belonging to the city), plus, I LIKE THEM. I may be the only person in the whole world, but I think they're gorgeous. The fall colors range from orange and red through yellow all the way to purple. They are huge shade trees and since there are no wires out in the front of my house, let it be. Let it grow and shade my living room window and make me happy.
2. Platanus occidentalis: the sycamore. I love these trees.
3. Quercus velutina: black oak. It has other names, too, but I'm going to call it that. These are across the street, other tree lawn trees. It was in looking at these and the others on my block that I began to realize that oaks might just be impossible to classify. At least by the typical layman like me. They hybridize like mad teenagers in the back of a car and produce mysterious specimens that are also fertile...but I'm pretty sure this one is velutina. It's full of acorns right now. Sit on the front porch and listen to them fall on the cars.
4. Tilia americana: American basswood. We lost THREE of these in the storms of 2006. Our street, I mean. I don't have any myself. What I like about these is their seeds, which have a little flag on them like another leaf (just another way to propel). But this means the tree looks like it has two different kinds of leaves in the late summer, the dark green true leaves and the little capes in light green. Cute.
5. Zelkova serrata: A new street tree two doors down. It's the answer to Dutch Elm disease--it's related to the elm, but doesn't succumb. It seems to be growing rather slowly, but maybe it's because I'm sitting here watching it all the time. It's a pretty little tree, replacing a beautiful red maple that just up and died one day. Seriously. Suddenly all the leaves were dead and the thing started falling apart. This one looks sturdy.
6. Quercus palustrus: the pin oak. These hold their leaves through the winter, and when the wind blows through them, it's just lovely. One neighbor dislikes them for this reason, which shocked me because they're gorgeous trees. But then again, I don't rake my yard. Leaves fall for a reason.
7. Acer saccharinum: the silver maple. This one will be leaving our yard soon. It splits too early (low) on its trunk and is in our front yard. Silver maples are kind of a scourge. Not like Tree of Heaven or something, but they are annoying in many ways. The worst part seems to be the cracking and the splitting in thunderstorms. But I will admit I like the way they look when a storm is coming, the wind catching the underside of the leaves and the white-silver flash.
8. Acer x freemanii: this is a red maple-silver maple hybrid. It's stronger than the silver, with a good solid center trunk. We're hoping this one will make a good tree house location in the near future.
9. Quercus rubra: Northern Red Oak. I usually refer to the oak here as a velutina, but it is probably a Red Oak. Or perhaps, as I mention above, a hybrid of the two (which would be a Quercus x hawkinsiae, a Hawkins Oak). Perhaps I shouldn't count it. But I think I will because I think about this tree a lot and wonder and read and look things up and still it is a minor mystery.
10. Magnolia × soulangeana: The Saucer Magnolia, although I was always referring to it as the sugar magnolia like from the Grateful Dead song? But this is its real name, and it's the pink flowering tree in springtime. We have one on our western fence line (doesn't that make it sound like we have acres and acres of yard?) that is my absolute favorite actual tree (I have favorite types of tree, but the reality is this tree represents everything lovely about my house.