In Maine, we are fortunate to be able to trek on land that isn’t posted. So, I cut through our woodlot, cross the powerline/snowmobile trail, pass through another small piece of our property, climb over a stonewall and voila, I’m able to explore acres and acres of woods that we don’t own.
Trees are one of my passions. I’m amazed at their idiosyncrasies. These half-inch long hemlock needles are attached to the main twig by short petioles or stems. My photographic skills need some work, so you can’t quite see it here, but the next time you see a hemlock, don’t dismiss it. Stop and take a look.
On the other hand, these are balsam fir needles, which are attached directly to the twig. They measure about an inch in size and some have little divots or notches on the outer edge.
Hemlock trees have a lacy look to me. And the top tends to lean over.
Balsam Fir, on the other hand, stand straight up.
Another of my favorites is Witch Hazel. Like beech trees, they are marcescent–that means the leaves wither, but remain attached to the stem throughout the winter. The base of a leaf, where it meets the stem, is asymmetrical. And the outer edge is wavy.
Here’s another look. This photo also shows the remains of the flower. Witch Hazel flowers in the fall. Take a look at the color of the leaf. It’s almost salmon colored. Generally speaking, however, from afar, it has a brownish tinge.
A Witch Hazel bud is shaped like a scalpel. And the tips of branches almost glow with a golden color. It seems like this shrub just screams, “Look at me.”
Meanwhile, beech leaves have large teeth on the edge. And each vein makes a direct line from the midrib to a tooth, while the veins of a witch hazel appear to be much more random. Winter beech leaves are almost tan in color. These trees remind me of sunshine when I see them in the landscape–bright rays of light against the greens, grays and white.
Right now, Red Maples are standing out in the landscape as well. This tree was pushed over by a logging event last winter, but it’s got plenty of new growth.
Like all maples (and ash, dogwood, horse chestnut), Red Maples have opposite branching.
Other deciduous trees, like this young birch, have alternate branching.
Sometimes I follow trails I’ve already made and other times I slog along–which is what I did this afternoon. I found lots of deer activity, including this deer run.
And deer browse. Because deer and moose don’t have upper incisors, they must rip buds off using their lower incisors and the hard palate where the uppers would be. They are herbivores, so in the deep snow that we currently have, tree buds and bark are their go-to food sources.
Along my journey, I was rewarded with a view of Pleasant Mountain–it’s in the background.
Thanks for traveling with me today.