One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Another shot of our changing leaves.

Mystery #171

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Any guesses for what they are?

I’ll be back later to check your answers!

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Isn’t that a gorgeous tree! It’s an oak, and common, maybe more so than you humans realize.

Acorn of the Chestnut Oak

Chestnut Oak, Quercus prinus, is easily identified by its large rounded teeth along the margins of the leaves and growing in the higher, drier soils. The acorns are bigger than most oaks, and oval in shape.

And speaking of acorns… We squirrels are having a plentiful year, but as always, it’s a tiring chore preparing for winter. A regular reader asked if we’d be taking our winter hiatus again, and the answer is yes. We have some catching up to do. Nutmeg and I need to pick when, but it’ll be soon.

Get outside while the weather is good, folks!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s fall, how about a leaf mystery?

Mystery #169

We’ll check in later!

~~~

The Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, always turns a beautiful color in our woods–though it might be reds to purples as you see here, or yellows and oranges.

Black Tupelo Blackgum tree leaves

Sometimes known as Black Gum or Blackgum, this native tree blooms in late spring and produces a berry that is high in energy for birds. You humans hardly ever see them because they are so small and get eaten very quickly.

The name ‘tupelo’ comes from the Native American Creek words “ito” for tree and “opilwa” for swamp. We don’t have many swampy areas where we live, so haven’t taken note of that. Maybe if they do live in wetter areas, the tree grows larger. Here in Northern Virginia, the Black Tupelo is a smaller, slow growing tree.

Black Tupelo tree

That’s one, in the center foreground, with the yellowish leaves, right beside the trunk of a mature Black Tupelo tree. Very pretty, and one we’d sure recommend you humans look at if you are picking out something native and helpful for wildlife!

Black Tupelo Black Gum tree leaves

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Ever seen one of these?

mystery #166

 

I’ll check back later for your guesses!

~~~

It is a Chestnut bur–the name for the seed covering–as one of our readers guessed, but not a Horse Chestnut. Those are only a little prickly, not covered with spines like these chestnut burs. The chestnuts themselves are protected inside the burs.

Chestnut burs with chestnuts inside

These nuts don’t look like they fully ripened, but they were all that were left when we ran across them. Probably the local squirrels found and ate the best ones, because we squirrels will eat tree nuts of any kind–that is, once they are free from spines!

Chestnut leaves and bur

The nuts had also fallen from the burs still on the tree. We admit we aren’t quite sure which kind of chestnut tree this is. Nutmeg and I looked it up on The American Chestnut Foundation website and believe the leaves are wide enough the tree was probably an American Chestnut. But we also realize that is unusual. This tree was a good 30 feet high, but it was in a human’s yard, not the forest, so it was planted. Let’s hope whatever clever mix the human scientists used to keep this Chestnut from getting the Chestnut blight keeps working!

You can read more about work to restore the American Chestnut on The American Chestnut Foundation website. It’s so nice you humans are working to bring them back!