Live oaks are not 'true' evergreens because they do lose their leaves immediately before new ones comes out in spring. Those leaves are shiny on top and pale gray on the underside. They can live for hundreds of years. The "Angel Oak" on Johns Island (just outside Charleston, SC) is estimated to be 400-500 years old and has a 28 foot circumference. The "Cleveland Oak" on Avery Island, Louisiana is about 300 years old with a 23 foot circumference. [Pictured below is the Cleveland Oak, visited by President Cleveland in 1891.]
Live oaks are native to the Southeastern part of the United States. They can be found in the extreme southeast of Virginia, along a thin strip of coast in the Carolinas, the southern 1/4 of Georgia, all of Florida, about half of Texas and a strip along southern Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Live oaks are often hosts to Spanish moss, ball moss, mistletoe and Resurrection ferns. [Pictured below are close ups of Live Oak bark.]
When I used to drive past trees in the Spring and saw them colored so beautifully, I used to assume those colors were due to buds and flowers. Lately I have been looking more closely -- and have discovered that much of what I used to perceive as flowers are actually 'samaras.'
Samaras are technically known as 'winged achenes' which means they are composed of a bit of papery tissue attached to a dry fruit containing a seed. These samaras are dispersed by the wind. They are also known as: wingnuts, helicopters, whirlybirds and whirligigs.
In my ignorance, I also thought that the only types of trees to produce samaras were maples. They are also produced by elms, ash and bushwillow trees. Apparently the samaras of the Siberian Elms are edible, but I don't intend to try them any time soon.
On a related note, I called these winged seeds "samsaras" for years. Until today, actually. But I think it is worth sharing that the word "samsara" is used in the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems to mean the cycle of of death and rebirth. Which seems somehow fitting for these flying seeds of the trees which throw their fates to the winds in hopes of rebirth.
It has been less than a year since my book, These Trees, was published in June 2017. It has been an extremely busy time since then for promoting and distributing this book of tree photos and poems.
The first store to carry THESE TREES was A Walk In The Woods in Hendersonville, NC. Today a TENTH store, Highlands Books (Brevard, NC) began carrying the book. The other eight places in North Carolina you can buy the book in-person are: Asheville -- Malaprop's Bookstore, Mountain Made Gallery and NC Arboretum; Belmont - Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden; Pisgah Forest -- Cradle of Forestry (near Pink Beds); Morganton - Burke Arts Council; Tryon - Tryon Painters & Sculptors and Tryon School of Arts and Crafts.
The book can also be purchased on Amazon.com The bookstore on this website will be closed April 12 - July 1, but will reopen on July 2.
Many, many thanks to all of you who have helped to make this 'valentine to the arboreal world' a success.
Photos from top left: Dogwood, Japanese spurge, Koko wood, ???, Red Horse Chestnut and far bottom right Tulip Poplar. All photos taken at South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University in South Caroilna.
Notice the ??? for the beautiful 'twinned' pine tree? It is ??? because it was not labelled. It was particularly galling to me not to have a tree identification for this specific tree because it DID have a plaque at its base, a METAL plaque, a rather expensive looking plaque commemorating Frederick Thone and including a portrait of the man. But nary a scrap of information as to the identity of the tree!
I don't expect recreation parks to have identification tags on their trees. But when a site holds itself out as a botanical garden and/or arboretum and a tree this splendid and this close to the paved road goes unidentified it really irks me. Yes, I did ask a staff person about the tree, showed him the photo on my iPhone. He was able to confirm that the tulip poplar was indeed a tulip poplar -- but didn't know anything about this pine.
Tree identification is NO picnic in general. When I was making my book, These Trees, I sat down with a forester and a botanist and they book just shook their heads over most of the photos I had and were unable to identify them. Apparently bark is an unreliable clue to tree identity. This is why I strive so diligently to find identification markers for trees where I am taking their picture. Because I am just fooling myself if I think I will be able to do it later at home.
I want to take a moment here to commend Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte, NC for their tree identification. Not that they have every tree identified with a tag. But because they have business cards made up including an email address that you can send a photo to for help in tree identification. I sent them three photos last month and they identified all three. Thank you!!! I wish all botanical gardens offered this service!!!
The calendar said it on March 21. The vernal equinox said it on the 20th. But the weather kept saying, "not yet!" Finally, here in North Carolina, the weather is also saying "Spring is here!" I took these photographs last week at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, NC. (upper left is a Japanese flowering apricot, upper right is a dwarf peach, bottom left is Prunus persica, and bottom right is a yellow azalea.
It is still way too early to think about planting flowers. But not too early to take Anne Lamott's resolution and make it my own, "I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen."
I hope you will get a chance to do that too.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
October 13 from
11am - 3pm
Mountain Made Gallery
Old Airport Rd.
November 16 - 18
"Tis the Season"
Holiday Fair at
David Event Center
761 New Boyleston Highway
333 Thompson St.