Well NJ Flora enthusiasts, the 2011 growing season has all but come to a close. The leaves have fallen in all of our southern counties and the Tipularia leaves are visible again: the two signs that say to me its time to brush up on your winter botany skills.
From Dichanthelium basal rosettes to berries and fruiting capsules of all types, the winter is a wonderful time to enter the NJ botanical world. The ticks are slower and the other biting insects are all but invisible. The winter leaves of perennials, winter skelletons of annuals and buds on trees and shrubs are now best studied for their characteristic shapes, colors and other characters. The winter allows a botanist time to ponder the simple things, like “what in the world is this shrub, I know I would know its name with leaves“!
For those experienced with the Quercus genus, now its the time to test your bud ID memories: the red oak group is a great place to begin. Black, scarlet, red and southern red are visible in all southern counties and all except southern red oak is visible it the rest of the State.
Don’t stay home an pout about the lack of floral displays, get out into the field and discover a fourth season when a whole new set of identification traits are learned. JRA 11/2011