Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"FLOWERS" THAT AREN'T


When are spring flowers not flowers? 

When they're not blooms, but rather buds. Or more specifically in this case, the leaf buds of an Ohio buckeye tree and a box elder.

A week or so ago, during the time when about all I could manage was an occasional short-term gimp around the yard, I made several photos of just-opened leaf buds on a Ohio buckeye tree. The medium-sized tree grows up by the road at the top of the steep bank, and is so surrounded by other trees that I didn't even notice it the first year I moved here. 


I think the buckeye's terminal buds—its now peeled back yellowish outer layer of protective scales, tipped with rusty-orange, which covered everything while the bud was dormant over the winter, and the still tightly furled green leaves—are as pretty as any wildflower.


The box elder—one of many, big and small, on the property—grows a few yards away from the buckeye. Its axillary bud clusters, a contrasting Christmasy mix of red-and-green against a clear-blue April sky, are nothing short of spectacular. Don't you agree they'd give any spring ephemeral a run for its money? Of course the deep-red color of the brand new leaves will only remain red for a brief period before turning vernal green.

Blooms? Buds? Who cares? Both are part of spring's magical beauty.
———————

18 comments:

ellen abbott said...

gorgeous pictures. the buckeye is stunning.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We have a very similar sort of bud on our horse chestnut tree Grizz - we always call them sticky buds and often bring some into the house to open in awful weather.

Do hope by now that you are getting better.

Bonnie said...

Stunning in their symmetry and grace. Great shots, Grizz.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ_
these pictures are exquisite. My goodness! :-)
I don't think we have box elders here in Connecticut. And also, I have a question - I saw a news clip about an all American made flag company in Ohio. I didn't catch the name. Do you know of it?
thanks....
Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

Well, I certainly think so…and am pleased you agree. These buckeye buds are, IMHO, just another example of one of those really lovely things we overlook because of not paying close enough attention.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

Closely related trees, dear Weaver. I've never heard of bringing them in to open, though, but it sounds a really great idea for next spring, providing I can remember.

Thank you, I am doing and feeling much better.

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

Overlooked "flowers," really. And the buckeye buds are indeed quite well formed, almost sculpted in their look sometimes. Either of the images would probably make a great candidate to run though one of your neat textures.

Robin said...

You bring up a smile via memory.

In my twenties I took a friend 'home' to Kentucky and my mother and I drove him down the (beautiful) back lanes of the Bluegrass.

At one point my mother exclaimed from the back seat, "Chestnuts!", and I have many photos of all of us at the roads edge of a horse farm gathering them.

We proudly brought gallons of them home. My stepfather, an old mountain man took one look and said, "Honey, these are Buckeyes".

Thanks for the memory.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Thank you. I have lots of box elders here along the river—they're quite common. And actually, I do believe you have box elders in your state, though you're on the northeastern fringe of their range and they likely aren't very common.

As to your flag question…not long ago, while working on another story, I toured the Annin Flagmakers company in Coshocton, Ohio. They are said to be America's oldest flagmakers and makers of the best-quality American flags. I believe they're headquartered in New York, but the Ohio plant is their largest.

Neil Armstrong and "Buzz” Aldrin planted one of their flags on the moon. Commander Robert E. Peary's expedition to the North Pole did the same in 1909, as did Admiral Richard E. Byrd's expedition to the South Pole in 1930. Their flags are the ones that draped Lincoln's coffin, are flown at most presidential inaugurations, and are used at practically every historic or news event. In that famous WWII photo, the flag raised atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima in 1945 is one of theirs, and so's the one hoisted above the rubble even as the dust was still settling from the World Trade Center on 9/11.

I'll bet that's company the story you saw was on.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

That's a lovely story, and quite bittersweet considering the tragic plight of the American chestnut, which was once one of the most useful, mighty, and dominant trees throughout the Eastern woodlands—before the "chestnut blight" wiped all but a handful away. If your mother was old enough to have once gathered chestnuts, it's easy to see how she might mistake a buckeye for one, as their nuts look rather similar, though smaller I think, and enclosed in different looking burrs. Chestnuts, a member of the beech family, and buckeyes are not closely related. Apparently, your step-father either knew his buckeyes or his chestnuts…or both. :-)

Great memory, though. And in some ways the pictures you took that day are even better. Thank you for sharing; I love it!

Jenn Jilks said...

We don't have any terminal buds on some of our trees. The deer have enjoyed them! Cheers from Perth.

Grizz………… said...

Jenn…

Yeah, I've seen plenty of the "browse lines" in the northcountry…so I can believe the only buds you'll have are up too high for a rearing whitetail to reach. Which probably puts them a bit on the high side for easy photography.

Tramp said...

The horse chestnut, which I believe is a close relative of your buckeye, has always been a favourite of mine. As children we picked twigs with the large "sticky buds" and put them in water.
Here in the horse chestnut trees have been suffering a disease causing it to shed it's leaves in mid-summer. The advice is to completely remove any fallen leaves which can contain the pupa of moths that carry the disease.
A couple of years ago while canoeing we saw a surprisingly healthy tree late in summer and realised that from its position its leaves had probably been carried away by the river.
...Tramp

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

You're right, horse chestnuts and buckeye trees are close kin, though horse chestnuts are not native to the U.S. Also, the winter buds, which as you know on the horse chestnut are sticky, are not sticky on the buckeyes. Around here we have both Ohio buckeyes and yellow buckeyes. The nuts are quite pretty, dark and polished, and in my father's growing up time and before, boys often carried them as "pocket pieces."

Incidentally, home candy makers make a popular and IMHO delicious candy called a buckeye which looks astonishingly like the real thing. Peanut butter and powered sugar, with a bit of added (dairy) butter to help harden when chilled, is mixed and formed into little balls about 20 mm in diameter. These are chilled until they harden, then you stick the ball onto a toothpick and dip the sweetened peanut-butter ball into melted chocolate, dark or milk, but leaving a bit of the interior undipped for the buckeye's "eye." Looks like the real thing, and even your mistakes taste great.

George said...

These are gorgeous shots, Grizz, each of which reminds us that every stage of nature's cycle holds a unique beauty. As a current resident of the Chesapeake Bay region, I was struck at the resemblance of the first shot to a crab claw.

Thanks again for your very kind and generous comments on my post today.

Grizz………… said...

George…

I was thinking crawfish pincer when I made the shot, but your analogy is even better.

Re. post comments…you're more than welcome, my friend. Life's vicissitudes get the better of all of us from time to time—but they, too, shall pass.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ
thank you for so much for the fascinating information about the flag company - I knew you would know and I have made note. I SO appreciate you taking the time and telling me even way more than was shown on the TV piece I saw.
Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail...

You're welcome, always. I was just hoping I had the right flag company. Glad to know I got it right and that you now have the info you wanted. Be good...