Sunday, April 21, 2013

Limb Shadow

Even deciduous trees cast significant shade in the winter, as this red oak shadow shows.

Kentucky Coffee trees--whose pods of coffee bean-sized seeds may have once catered to the culinary needs of now extinct megafauna--have a slimmer profile, due to their strategy of manufacturing very large leaves (3 feet long and 2 feet wide) rather than the more normal approach of growing lots of fine twigs to hold smaller leaves.

This species also loses its leaves sooner in the fall, and buds out later in the spring (in the photo, the Norway Maple on the left has already started to leaf out). The combination of this coarse twig structure and extended period of nakedness (thus the Latin name, Gymnocladus) make it a good candidate for planting on the south side of houses that use passive solar heating.

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