Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Leaf Scars and Other Intriguing Items from the Frozen Woods

It was far too cold in the woods this evening to crouch down and peer closely at the skeletal remains of summer.  So I grabbed a handful of the most interesting things I could find and drew them at home in the good warm kitchen. At the top are two drawings of a very small bean pod, two perfectly spaced round black seeds, very cozy as two peas in a pod, delicate as baby fingernails.  In the middle are two views of what I think is the skeleton of a daylily pod.  It looks like a finely woven basket and encloses a single black seed.  Possibly there were other seeds that have fallen out of this cage.  At the bottom is a sketch of a twisting vine that has dry little buds at intervals, alternating sides of the stem.  This vine was twirled around a fat twig that had another, finer vine springing off of it.  The twig has very large shield-shaped leaf scars.  Drawing 892 shows an enlargement of one of these.

Dominating this page is a papery hosta leaf with its veins raised and some small holes.  The veins merge at the stem end in a perfect twirling motion. Drawing 895 is a small piece of a bittersweet vine with its tri-part yellow pod popped open revealing the red berry.  The red smears on the page are from the berries-- a nice color, but it fades to a yellow quickly.

More leaf scars are in drawing 894.  I took a nature study course as an undergraduate and learned that trees in winter could be identified by their leaf scars!  Did you know that?  I made a dichotomous key to use in identifying winter trees by these curious shield-shaped scars that are left when leaves fall off of branches.  The bud of next season's leaf is a little bump just above the scar.  I suspect this twig is from a red maple tree, based on the information at the following url.    Go to to learn more than you really want to know about identifying trees by their leaf scars!

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