Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time to Relearn the Basics: Leaf Buds as Teachers

Every now and then, something happens that causes you to rethink everything that you thought you knew.

In my case, that happened this morning when I looked out at the house from the fenced-in area of my backyard.  I found this:

Horribly blurry green bud poking out from the tip of a branch.

Yeah, I know... it's a really bad picture.  Try to ignore that.  Instead, look at that green fuzziness in the center.

That's a leaf bud.

See, I always thought that trees started to form buds at the end of winter.  You know... so that when Spring hit, they could burst out with gorgeous leaves.  I mean, that's the way it happened on the Mexican-American border.  It's also what I had always seen/inferred through television.

Yet, there I was... staring at a leaf bud a few days before Winter even truly began.

Shows what I know, right?

At first, I figured it had to do with that one tree.  I went off to take a look at a few other types.

Many red buds poking out from the branches of a pussy willow brush

The pussy willow had a huge assortment of buds.  This one, however, was in the same area of the yard as the tree I had just discovered.  It was also the first piece of large vegetation to burst into life last spring, so I decided to move on to something else.

Walnut leaf bud in close-up, with budding Maple branches in the background

Yep.  The young walnut tree by the driveway was starting to bud, as well.  In fact, the maple in the background appeared to have a plentiful amount of buds.

Clearly, I need to relearn what I thought I already understood.  If it was a single plant displaying buds, I could brush it off, assuming that it was specific to that individual plant, but four different trees?  This was... eye-opening.  Clearly, I didn't know what I thought I knew.

Funny how life works out that way sometimes, right?

It's time to hit the books!  I need to relearn basic botany.

Looks like maybe I shouldn't have slept through Biology 101, right?

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