Can you tell what this is? And why would looking at it be important?
I’ll check in for your guesses in the comments later!
Well, we had a couple of people worried that this was a diseased leaf! No, not at all. A number of leaves, including this oak species, have tufts of hair in the axils of the veins on the lower side of the leaves. In fact, it is one of the ways to identify this leaf.
The second on this tree’s leaves, is the space between the lobes. The oak leaves in this family, the red oak group, are tricky to tell apart. Of course we squirrels, who pick up the acorns each year, find them easy to identify by the shape and size of the acorns and their caps, a third identification method. But acorns aren’t always on the trees.
So, a look at the leaves: These oak leaves have what’s called ‘variable sinuses’, meaning the space between the indentations is not regular. That, plus the tufts of hair on the back, means these leaves come from a Black Oak, Quercus veluntina.
It’s a stately tree, which we need more of on our rapidly changing planet. Maybe this season, you humans can gather acorns and bury them, and then forget to dig them up?