Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Color-Coded Forest

Even this late in the fall, some shrubs and trees announce their identities by the colors of their leaves. They can appear as if a child carefully colored in a number-coded landscape-- oaks and blackhaw Viburnums bronze, the Asian photinia a golden yellow that turned to dark brown in the hard frost. Here is a photo of Pettoranello Gardens, with native oaks bronze above a shrub layer of still-green exotic honeysuckles.

The logic here is that the honeysuckles evolved in a milder climate on another continent, whereas plants native to America adapted to longer winters by dropping their leaves earlier.

Just upstream of Mountain Lakes, the extent of exotic invasive shrubs is especially revealed this time of year, as the vistas open up. The pink of winged Euonymus has just fallen, but the invasion of honeysuckle shrubs can easily be tracked by their persistent green.

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