Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Last Leaves

Many oak trees grow in the shire, much as they do points north and west.
Mainly white oaks 'quercus alba'  and pin oaks 'quercus palustris'
and some live oaks 'quercus virginiana' are here.

I have always found it interesting the way the white oaks 
often hold onto their leaves through winter into spring.

A little research tells me this is a phenomenon called marcescence,
the retention of leaves in deciduous trees.
This is described as more common in the younger parts of the tree,
so that's why the upper branches are usually shed of their leaves.

Here's a good example:

In the wetlands, the leafy oak trees are the only hardwoods with leaves. 

In our patch of woods, the persistence of the oak leaves really stand out.

The mystery of marcescence is that one day in spring,
the steadfast leaves will drop away quietly, supplanted by tender green.
And one day soon I will look out my window and wonder
when the last of the copper oak leaves disappeared.

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