Friday, May 20, 2011

Quercus and Curiosity

Of all the fabulous things we have seen this month, rare birds, endangered plants, interesting people...

.. the pink and frosted green leaves on this tree at the edge of my drive has captured my attention.

Curiosity has propelled me to the books, oaks. Ugh. Oaks are a tricky lot in my book, remember I have never claimed to be a botanist, but rather a plant enthusiast- a mere "Weedpicker."

The rounded leaves tell me "white oak" and the dry upland habitat say Quercus alba, White Oak. I seem to remember these pink hues high in the budding oaks at Shawnee, but again fear of Oaks seems to paralyze me.

After all, I have another white oak in my yard which is nothing like this. It is in the wetland area of the side yard, and that is a Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor. One could get confused with these similar common names. Not only are there a myriad of oaks, but they have a tendency to interbreed- and leave me questioning what I "think I know."

So forgive me if my brain is foggy after several weeks of a mind-bending schedule, fabulous bird chases, and a botany filled spring.

Today let's just look at the beauty, like this vista from a favorite spot at Sheldon's Marsh.

Sometimes it can be enough to appreciate the many curiosities of biodiversity and to marvel in the beauty of nature without needing to name every one. After all- as the Amish say, "It ain't the things you don't know that get you into troubles; it's the things you know for sure that ain't so."

For today, the beauty alone is enough.

1 comment:

  1. I share your uneasiness about identifying oaks. I remember an anecdotal account of E. Lucy Braun arguing that leaf characteristics were too variable to be useful in determining species. One of her colleagues disagreed, so she brought him a collection of leaves and asked him to sort them by species. After he had identified several distinct species, she informed him that she had collected all of the leaves from the same tree.