Does this look like an elegant poinsettia?

Tree catawba leaves

We usually think of the colors of leaves in the fall. But the young leaves of spring contain equally magical colors.  The leaves in the photo are from the catalpa/catawba tree. When I was a kid we called them cigar trees and Indian bean trees because of their long, bean-like seed pods which were fun to play with. The leaves of this native flowering tree eventually become heart-shaped or three-lobed.  They are the sole source of food for the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar. When caterpillars are numerous, infested trees may be completely defoliated. Due to their large leaf size, catalpas are a popular habitat for many birds, providing them good shelter from rain and wind.

Because the caterpillars are an excellent live bait for fishing, some dedicated anglers, particularly in southern states, plant catalpa mini-orchards for their own private source of “catawba-worms”.

Catalpa is occasionally used as a tonewood or sound board in guitars. Who knew?



Tree huggers beware!

Tree points 2

Not designed for tree huggers but all those sharp points might make a great shield!

Tree points 1

Hand for size.

Tree points 3

This dying maple has bigger points.

Tree point 5

I think the points are left by tiny branches like this one that don’t survive.

tree point 4

This tree trunk keeps producing tiny branches even though most of the tree is dead.

You can buy used beetle wings on Amazon!

Insect Emerald Ash borerOne look at this Emerald Ash Borer and you can understand why the elytra, or stiff front pair of wings on a beetle have been popular since cavemen discovered they weren’t just delicious but also useful for trade.  What wouldn’t you give to possess something so amazingly iridescent?

Helicopters, earrings or parrot beaks?

Tree Swamp maple

These are Swamp Maple seed pods. We have all watched maple trees drop seed pods in pairs that twirl like tiny helicopter blades as they spin toward the ground.  Now most young girls have pierced ears. But when I was a kid and we wanted earrings, we split open the seed part of the maple helicopters and carefully stuck them on our ear lobes. My neighbor who is 96 said when she was a kid they stuck them on top of their noses and called them parrot noses.  I had never heard of that! I wonder how many kids today have even heard of making maple pod earrings, much less parrot noses!

In honor of the drive-thru Sequoia

Our country lost The Pioneer Cabin Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It was toppled in a massive storm system 01/08/2017. I have never seen the incredible sequoias of the West coast. But there are some pretty large and ancient trees here in southern Maryland in Chapman Forest.  Please visit them if you get a chance. They don’t live forever. Storms will topple them eventually.big-tree-1

I think that’s some kind of oak based on the leaves at the bottom of the tree. Please tell me what it really is if you know! It looks like 2 trees but it’s one. I’ve got to learn to take better pictures of these big trees and also to do a better job identifying them when I see them. It’s embarrassing that I can’t identify trees at my age… It’s not like they’re wild flowers…


Same applies to this one. Notice dog checking out burrow in right side of tree trunk.


This is a beech tree for sure. Finally! One positive identification! Don’t you love the color of the bark and the base of the tree? Normally we see small beech trees in succession forest areas. Their leaves look like parchment paper this time of year. You may notice them when you are driving. You may also see small holly trees with them.


This is top of same beech tree.


Maybe a sycamore? The other trees around it are dwarfed but they are not small trees.


Here’s the tree’s top. I thought it was a tulip poplar because the trunk is so straight but the top is white like a sycamore and I don’t see any tulips up in the branches.

I will try to do a better job of photographing these trees in the spring.