Hickories in Fall

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The fall has totally descended and some of us are more into it than others. I am borderline too cold.

The colors have been lovely though. I have been planning to photograph and write about the Black Gum Nyssa silvatica (also called the Tupelo). I first noticed them turning a very bold and beautiful red in early to mid-September while collecting milkweed to feed some very hungry caterpillars. My Winter Tree ID teacher had said that they were the first to turn and were a gorgeous color.

I have gotten familiar with non Winter Tree ID (aka leaves!) and could recognize the compound Ashes and Hickories and the opposite Dogwoods and the lobed and wavy margined Oaks, Sassafras, and Maples. But a tree that just had a simple oval shaped leaf left me not absolutely certain. But let me stop myself there and return to the Nyssa in the near future-before the leaves have all come down.

I mainly want to give a shout out to the Hickories. I remember sitting on a stump and picking up a fuzzy leaf to puzzle over late this last spring. I would have recognized the Mockernut Hickory’s bud, but to see its actual huge and leaflet covered leaf, only a sparkle in the tree’s eye while I studied it all winter, was unearthly. With a little help from my friends Kim, Alex, and David Allen Sibley the ID was more or less settled on, and all summer I would catch the widest of the Hickory leaflets, 5-9 on a leaf, while biking by. Bitternut and Pignut, who I am getting to know as well, have thinner leaflets.

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Bitternut Hickory leaf (7 leaflets).

This is one that I pressed under my nursing school textbooks. I knew they had to be good for something!

But fall is here, hear the bell? And like so many friends this one went through some changes. Now, and for the last couple weeks, whole trees of all three species have been covered with bright yellow leaves. Although various leaves are coming down now, and the trees are really changing colors more universally, the red Nyssas and yellow Hickories have been a sight to behold.

This is one friend I pass while walking back from class every other day. I took this picture yesterday, one yellow dude in a sea of non-Hickory green.

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PS: Some of us are stilllll dreaming about that apartment we did not move into that was really cute and had a working fireplace. If you find yourself lucky enough to have a wood-burning scenario please do us all a favor and choose the wood that burns the best. (I am talking, yes, about Hickory).

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