Monday, November 29, 2010

Take a Look: My Maple Tree

Okay, okay, I just can’t help myself. It’s time to take another look at the maple tree outside my office window.

Right now, you can see that the tree has lost almost all of its leaves. I raked them up about a week ago. And as I was doing so, I took a look at my tree and answered a question I’ve been thinking about for 6 months.

Last spring, I took photos of the tree almost every day while it was leafing out. I started documenting the annual extravaganza in mid-April when the buds started budding.

But, really, I should have started the story of leafout earlier. Much earlier. Back in . . . well, back in November. Maybe even October. I’m not quite sure because even though I kept an eye out for the first signs of buds all through the summer, I hadn’t taken a close look at my tree for a while.

So we’ll just say that autumn is when new buds start forming. You can see them in this photo.

Why do buds form in fall? Because after a full summer of photosynthesizing, the tree has an ample supply of food and energy. But as the winter progresses, that supply gets depleted. So if the tree wants the biggest, healthiest buds possible, it will make them when it has the most stored up energy. That’s in autumn.

Now I’m happy because I’ve seen the whole process from bud formation to fully formed leaves. It’s been really amazing to behold. I can’t wait to see it again, so I’ll keep on watching.

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