The Beauty of Autumn

Few things are more beautiful than trees in their autumn colors.  The image above is of a ripe acorn of a Portuguese oak in fall color.

A heart shaped poplar leaf resting on a moss covered rock.

An old wood gate in a rock wall beside a Walnut tree.


Looking up into the branches of a Large Leaf Linden in full Autumn color.

Spotten leaves with a Leopard like pattern.

Montpelier Maple leaf in red fall color.

Cottonwood leaf floating in a stream.

Horse Chestnut - Buckeye images

I came across a Horse Chestnut tree (also called Buckeye in some parts) earlier this year at a moment when the spiky green seed pods were at a very intriguing stage in their formation.  They looked like what you might imagine a bacteria would look like under a powerful microscope, with an almost alien look.  The lighting conditions were such that I was able to take few pictures in which the soft lighter green spikes really stood out against the background.  Perhaps these images speak for themselves without further explanation.

Some of the little spiky balls had just formed from the flower stage and were not much larger than a marble.

I also got a couple of interesting shots of the Horse chestnut leaf margin (below) and the leaf stem.
In this image one can see how the Horse chestnut palmate leaf attaches to the stem.  This is one good way to help distinguish this tree from the true Chestnut Castanea sativa.

Chestnut Season

It is Chestnut season once again which means that this is a good time to revisit the question of how to tell an edible Sweet Chestnut from a non-edible Horse Chestnut (also called Buckeye).  I will first provide some images to help accurately identify the edible Sweet Chestnut and then I will provide some for the non-ebible Horse Chestnut.

First the edible Sweet Chestnut from the Castanea sativa tree...

The image above is of the Sweet Chestnut leaf

The seed pods of the edible Sweet Chestnut are very easy to distinguish from the non-edible Horse Chestnut.  Those of the edible chestnut are very "spiky" with sharp, pointy, needle-like spikes that are about 2cm long.  The spikes completely cover the surface of the edible Sweet chestnut´s seed pod.

Non-Edible Horse Chestnut of the Aesculus hippocastanum tree...

The seed pod of the non-edible Horse Chestnut (also called Buckeye) is quite different.  It has short stubby points that are not as stiff nor as sharp as those of the edible Sweet Chestnut.  It´s stubby spikes do not cover the whole surface of the seedpod and are only about half a centimeter in length. 

The image below is of the Horse Chestnut seed outside of its seed pod.  These round but somewhat irregular shaped seeds range in size from approx. 2-4 cm in diameter.  One way to tell them apart from edible chestnuts is by the fact that these seeds have no pointy end whereas the edible Sweet Chestnuts always have a pointy end.

A word of caution for chestnut hunters who live in areas where both the Horse Chestnut and Sweet Chestnut trees grow.  Don´t trust a chestnut just because you found it near or under a sweet chestnut tree.  It is not uncommon for these two trees to grow in close proximity to each other in city settings.  Edible chestnuts always come from very spiky seed pods and always have a pointy end on the seed.

Swedish Whitebeam - Sorbus x intermedia

Common name(s):  Swedish whitebeam
Scientific name:  Sorbus x intermedia (triple hybrid between s. aucuparia, s. torminalis, s. aria)
Family:  Rose - Rosaceae
Native range:   Southern Sweden and nearby areas
Type: deciduous
Non-native range:  Planted as an urban ornamental tree
Average height range:  10 - 20 meters
Forest or habitat:  
Wood density and quality:  
Leaf shape: orbicular - obtuse (almost circular)
Leaf arrangement:  
Leaf margin:  lobate - serrate
Leaf venation:  pinnate
Leaf stem:  1cm approx.
Leaf surface:   dark green, glabrous, (Reverse - grayish-green, pubescent (hairy))
Inflorescence: Corymb
Flower: White, 5 petals, 1cm
Reproduction: tetraploid apomictic
Fruit: Orange to read oval pome
Edible?:  no
Seed dispersal mechanism:  birds (Thrushes and Waxwings)
Bark:  Gray  and fairly smooth
Traditional uses:  ornamental
Commercial uses:   ornamental
Invasiveness:   unknown

Árboles madrileños, Antonio López Lillo y Antonio López Santalla, 2007, Obra Social Caja Madrid.

Norway Maple - Acer platanoides L

Common name(s):  Norway maple
Scientific name:   Acer platanoides L.
Family:    Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)
Native range:  East central Europe to southwest Asia
Type: Deciduous
Non-native range:  widely planted as an urban tree in cities and parks
Average height range:  20-30 meters
Forest or habitat:  
Wood density and quality:  hard, good for furniture, color is pale-yellow to reddish.
Leaf shape:  palmate
Leaf arrangement:  Opposite
Leaf margin:  lobed, spiny (1-7 teeth-like points per lobe)
Leaf venation:  palmate
Leaf stem:  5-8 inches, 8-20 cm
Leaf surface:  glabrous (smooth, not hairy)
Inflorescence:  corymb like panicle
Flower: five sepals and five petals 3–4 mm, inconspicuous
Pollinating agents: ?
Fruit: double Samara pair
Edible?:  no
Seed description:  flattened disk-like with “wings” (samara)
Seed dispersal mechanism:  wind blown Samara
Bark:  gray-brown, grooved
Traditional uses:  ornamental, shade
Commercial uses:  furniture and wood-turning  (banister spindles etc.)
Invasiveness:  Moderate in some areas, (banned in New Hampshire and Massachusetts)
Threats: Asian long horned beetle,
Iconic or symbolic value:  Maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada and is represented on its flag.

Large-leaved Linden mite leaf galls

 These are images of some rather bizarre leaf galls on a Large-leaved Linden (Lime) tree in Madrid, Spain.  I believe that the little critters who caused these galls are some sort of mite (see bottom images).

 I opened up one of the galls and found about 20 or so of the little mites inside.

Tulip tree flower

 Getting good images of the Tulip tree flower can be quite a trick due to the trees tall height and the fact that the flowers are usually so far off the ground that you can only get a glimpse of them.  A few days ago however I came across a fairly young tree that had flowers as low as five feet off the ground.  These images are from that tree.

Fig leaf - Ficus carica - shape, venation, margin, texture

 Fig leaves are probably most famous for the biblical mention of Adam and Eve covering themselves with these leaves after they sinned.  Personally I can´t imagine anyone wearing these rather rough and sandpaper textured leaves.  Or perhaps the first couple covered themselves with the leaves of another member of the ficus family.  These fig leaves come from the Edible Fig - Ficus carica.  As can be seen from the images Fig leaves are very deeply "lobed".  The edible fig does drop it leaves each year.  The image below is of the autumn colors.
 The following image shows the bright green color of the fig leaf as well as its lumpy surface.  What is not see easy to see from the image is its rough, sandpaper like texture on the top side.
 The image below is of the reverse (underside) of the leaf, which is a lighter green color and is also rough but with stiff pubescent hairs.  It is also very "rugose" with the veins being very visible and pronounced.
 The venation of the fig leaf is "reticulate" with the secondary veins forming a network pattern. Each of the lobes also has a main vein that branches of from the rachis.
 The margin is "serrate" with rounded teeth that point slightly forward.
Shape: Lobate
Margin: Serrate
Consistency: thick and stiff
Venation: Reticulate
Texture top side: Rugose
Texture reverse: Pubescent
Color: bright green, yellow-orange in autumn
Petiole: 2-6cm

One fig growing out from inside another

 I came across a fig tree with a bumper "breva" (first crop) crop of figs.  As I was taking some pictures I noticed several figs where on fig was growing out from the inside of another fig forming a sort of double fig.  The images speak for themselves.