The Loss of a Tree

by Donna Lewis

I am sure I am not the only one here in Central Texas who lost trees in the recent ice storm. It was a masterpiece of art, with everything encased in ice. A magical scene for sure. But also, a terrible thing, and deadly for nature.

I have many trees down. I will miss them all. But one was very special to me and Linda.

The tree with ice on it.

She was the mother of all the standing tree people who lived on our property. I talked to her and listened to her breathing every day.

Trees communicate with each other through electrical impulses. This has been proven.  So the other trees were aware of those who fell. But I know there is much more than just a mess to clean up, if you love and listen to nature.

After it warmed up.

The trees watch our busy lives and never complain. They stand quietly as the years go by. I will miss her and all the others and thank them for being here.

Facts from the US Forest Service also place monetary and health value on trees.

  • The value of a single tree can provide $73.00 worth of air-conditioning, $75.00 worth of erosion control, $75.00 worth of wildlife shelter, and $50.00 worth of air pollution reduction.
  • A single tree can produce 260 pounds of oxygen each year.

There are some beautiful poems about trees, just too long to print here.  Poets Joyce Kilmer and Maya Angelou have some very nice ones.

I have shed tears about my friend, and on Earth Day, I shall plant another friend to replace my fallen one. I have done this since 1970.

This is a good thing for everyone to do on Earth Day, which is April 22nd.

Early Nectar for the Pollinators

by Donna Lewis

Here are a few bushes and trees that bloom early.  The bees and butterflies love them.

A Yellow Tiger Swallowtail on Henbit, Mexican Cherry Tree, Coral Honeysuckle vine, wild native Plum Trees, and a Peach tree.

There are many more that bloom early.  Fruit trees are always good for pollinators and then for us with fruit, nuts, or berries.

Put some of these in your yard and the wildlife will be happy.

Remember… who are you gardening for?

More Signs of Spring

by Carolyn Henderson

Flowers are not the only signals that spring is here. Today (March 12) a very cold front is moving in, but yesterday, Thursday, March 11, was sunny and warm, and that brought out some frolicking squirrels and some sun-bathing Red-eared Sliders. These two were observed at lunch time at Orchard Park in Cameron. There were ten or so squirrels playing chase all over the park while the turtles lifted their heads toward the sun. 

I also found an Eastern Redbud in full bloom in my neighbor’s yard. I also have Henbit Deadnettle growing in large blooming clumps in my yard, but so does everyone else, it seems. 

I hope spring is here to stay after this cold front.

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.