Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Many Fall Colors of Herrontown Woods

Late season color along the Princeton ridge:

Orange and Red

Shall we have a shrub of the month for October? Hearts a' Bustin' wins hands down. Rarely seen due to it being a favorite food of the deer, we discovered a few remnant populations ten years ago in Herrontown Woods, and have since brought it to our Botanical Art Garden, where it can grow unbrowsed upon to its full glory. 

Flowering dogwoods call attention in the fall. This young one along a path at the Barden was particularly colorful.
This young tupelo (black gum, Nyssa sylvatica) in the Barden is shaped like an umbrella draped across the path. 
Tupelo turns bright red or orange one leaf at a time. Here, one part of a leaf has turned color before the rest.
Sumacs growing along edges of a woodland can turn brilliant red or orange. I've experienced this most vividly in Michigan, where clones of sumac along roadsides would show brilliant red, with the equally brilliant orange of sugar maples as a backdrop. We have three kinds at the Barden--staghorn, smooth, and winged--two of which popped up on their own. As they get established, they may put on quite a show in future years. 
Anyone know what sort of tree this is, with its bright orangey color?
Poison ivy can grow up a dead trunk and pretend it's a tree. The "harry-is-scary" stems meander up the trunks while branchlike lateral shoots extend outward to form flower and seed. Few people have seen poison ivy flowers because, like many vines, it only flowers when it's climbing something. 
Don't take my word for it, but this looks like a fine feast of Chicken of the Woods found while cutting invasive shrubs near the red barn. 
Orange on top, yellow on the bottom--surely this has meaning beyond being a convenient transition in this post from orange to yellow.

Hickories, along with tulip trees, provide the high yellows.
Closer to the ground is wild senna, a native floodplain wildflower that has been proliferating in the Barden, making for a beautiful mottled effect en masse. The deer don't seem to eat it.
Another distinct mottling effect can be found on spicebush. 
There's a stretch of the red trail near the Veblen farmstead that we call Spicebush Alley, particularly pretty this time of year.
Blue tags you may occasionally see at Herrontown Woods mean either native shrubs that volunteers should not cut down, or a potential reroute for a trail.
White pines also look mottled this time of year. A white pine weevil caused the dieback of the tip on the left, but the yellow needles mixed with green are last year's needles being let go.
Other conifers like arborvitae are also shedding last year's growth.
Late-Season Flowers

Always a treat to find a new population of turtlehead along a stream.
Obedient plant popped up in the Barden this year.
A new find is this aster. I'm calling it crooked-stemmed aster for now, blooming in full view along the red trail, somehow unnoticed in previous years. With scientific names under constant revision, it's sometimes fun to go retro and look in an old Peterson field guide, where the plants I have yet to find are as interesting as the plants I do.

Meanwhile, a katydid is having nothing to do with all this changing of color. 

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