Spring Unfolding

For many people, spring is their favorite time of year—the long, cold winter having given way to warmth, sunshine, and flowers. I love spring as well but find myself frustrated sometimes by its Jekyll and Hyde nature. This spring was particularly frustrating—the cold and rain seemed at times interminable, delaying the onset of the spring flora several weeks past normal. Once the sun finally did appear, the entire forest exploded in a cacophony of simultaneous leaf and bloom. Plant phenologies were so compressed that there was almost no time to appreciate the season before it was over. Nevertheless, as I waited patiently for those warmer days, I was still able to find beauty in the pre-bloom forest among its nascent leaves—their development put on hold for the time being but taking on an almost floral quality in the absence of the true flowers that they preceded. As a student of wood-boring beetles, I’ve had to become also a capable botanist, at least with regards to the woody flora, and pride myself on being able to identify trees not just by their mature leaves, but also their wood, bark, growth habit, and natural community—characters that are always available when leaves may not be (as is often the case with dead trees). Nascent leaves, on the other hand, are like flowers—ephemeral and often colorful. One must make an effort to see them, but it is effort well spent.

The photos below were taken on a cold, overcast day in late April at Holly Ridge Conservation Area in extreme southeastern Missouri. How many of them can you identify to species? This is an open challenge (i.e., no moderation of comments), and the first person to correctly identify all six will be declared the winner (remember, spelling counts!).












Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2013

6 thoughts on “Spring Unfolding

  1. I’ll give this a whirl, though I am not confident I’ve got them all.

    #1 Common Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
    #2 Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)
    #3 Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa)
    #4 Water Oak (Quercus nigra)
    #5 Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
    #6 Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata)

  2. 1.Quercus palustrus (Pin oak) 2. Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) 3. Carya ovata (shagbark hickory) 4. Quercus stellata (post oak) 5. Acer rubrum (red maple) 6. Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak).

  3. Just a guess from west of the Rockies (and perusing diagrams in Steyermark):
    1) Quercus velutina
    2) Quercus marilandica
    3) Carya laciniata
    4) Quercus alba
    5) Acer rubrum
    6) Quercus marilandica (another morph)?

    • Been warned that you might knock off points for no common names and no Italics (Thanks Brady!!)…if ANY of them are correct…one more time:

      1) Black or Yellow-barked Oak (Quercus velutina)
      2) Black Jack Oak (Quercus marilandica)
      3) Big Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) (spelld species name rong in ferst poste!!)
      4) White Oak (Quercus alba)
      5) Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
      6) Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)..different morph..

      Any extra points for completely picture-keying?

      Hope to make it to your neck of the woods someday…

      • By definition, scientific names are properly spelled only if they are italicized. However, I have never dinged a person for no common name (unless I specifically asked for it). 😛

  4. Looks like this quiz was harder than I expected, as nobody got all six correct. Ben came closest with four, followed by John with three. Here are the correct answers:

    1) Quercus velutina (black oak)
    2) Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)
    3) Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
    4) Quercus lyrata (overcup oak)
    5) Acer rubrum (red maple)
    6) Quercus falcata (southern red oak)


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