Leaf Identification

by Carolyn Henderson

Saturday, January 15, was a very windy day, as everyone in Central Texas knows. That wind deposited approximately eleven diverse types of tree leaves in my garage. I say approximate because neither I nor iNaturalist have been able to accurately identify some of them. 

Why are they all in my garage? It has something to do with the aerodynamics of the layout of my house, location, and wind direction. There is a wall that extends from the outer wall of my garage down my driveway quite a few feet. When the wind blows from the north or northeast, all the leaves in my immediate neighborhood blow around that wall into my garage. My neighbor swears this happens to him, too. I’m pretty sure they’re all in my garage. 

There were so many Saturday evening, that I became curious about what had found its way there. I have two types of trees in my yard – Live Oak and Texas Ash. The Texas Ash had literally dropped all its brown leaves Friday. Directly below the trees. None of them were there Saturday. Live Oaks are called evergreen, but they do drop large amounts of leaves while replacing them almost immediately. This usually occurs in February. Those leaves were blown off the trees in a green state – mostly.

So, what did I find and identify? 

  1. Buckley’s Oak also called Texas Red Oak
  2. Bastard Oak also called Post Oak
  3. Rzedowski’s Sycamore (not at all sure of this ID)
  4. Eastern Cottonwood
  5. Live Oak – Don’t know if it’s Texas, Southern or Coastal 
  6. Magnolia – it’s an evergreen but does drop leaves
  7. Texas Ash
  8. Four others I could not get an ID on. 

I did a little research on oak trees in Texas since there seemed to be an abundance of them in my garage. Texas has 50 species of oak trees. Central Texas hosts 6 of them natively. We have Red Oak (Buckley’s), Mexican Oak (abundant on the UT campus), Live Oak, Lacey Oak, Chinquapin Oak and Bur Oak.  Needless to say, other types of oaks are here, but those are the ones considered to be native to the area. 

I have to give the wind a little credit. It took all the Texas Ash leaves and blew them into one large pile in my back yard up against a fence.  And, it blew all the leaves off a nearby Chinese Tallow into another neighbor’s yard. 

Can you identify the trees these pictured leaves fell and blew from? After you give it a shot, the answers are below. And if you can identify them more accurately or at all for the unidentified ones, I’d like to know. 

The identifications are in the order shown: 1> Buckley’s Oak or Texas Red Oak 2> Bastard or Post Oak 3> Rzedowski’s Sycamore 4> Eastern Cottonwood 5> Southern Live Oak 6> Magnolia 7> Texas Ash 8> Texas Live Oak. The other three are unidentified.

Keep Those Leaves!

by Donna Lewis

Fall is slowly arriving, and the leaves are starting to fall into our gardens.

Some of you are thinking, “How messy! I’ll need to rake or mow them up.”

I used to think like that, too, especially when I lived in the city. Now that I live in the country, I have learned better. My bad back has also learned to take it easier.

Mother Nature also has made those leaves fall for a purpose, to protect the new plants that will emerge in the spring and to protect little critters that live and sleep away the winter among the fallen leaves. Those are two good reasons to just let them lie.

Today (October 24, 2021), I walked through my garden to catch one of the last monarchs heading south, lovely and gentle as she had a little sip from a milkweed in my garden.

After I left the garden, I went over to the Celeste fig tree that has frozen back every winter, and has just put out the first edible figs ever!  I was so happy.  A little snack for me.

Remember, leaves are the baby blankets for next year’s new plants. So leave them….