The Vanishing Chestnut
On yonder hill
A twisted silhouette against a leaden sky
With limbs forever bare
A giant chestnut stands,
A gray ghost gesturing of years gone by.
Tassels of velvet cream no more it bears
Nor notched leaf, nor smooth brown-hulled nuts;
No rising tide of earthen drink
Stirs twigs to growth again;
No more the sleek brown sprouts are ventured forth
In quest of sun and air and life;
The very roots are dead.
The wind in its gaunt branches whines a tune
Of grief for fallen fellows of its kind:
“No more, no more, tall trees, no more,
Lone remnant of a broken line!”
Eunice Y. McAlexander–The Mountain Laurel (1983)
The autumn leaves are tracing
Wild patterns in their flight,
Cascading, swirling in the wind,
Reluctant to alight.
The ground now crisply covered
In shades of red and gold,
Is like a splendid carpet,
Enchanting to behold.
This autumn beauty, soon to fade
Will feel cold winter’s sting
As all the trees now barren
Await the kiss of spring.
Glenna Wallace Moles–The Mountain Laurel (1983)
A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.
Out of My Life and Thought, An Autobiography
Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources… the history… the romance, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let the selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.
The following helpful hints for plant identification come from the blog of Amy Hruska at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
. . . note the habitat your plant species of interest is in: is it in an urban setting (and likely horticultural) or is it in the forest? It is a good idea to take note of specific geographical information, such as known landmarks, trail names, or street names. Geographical information is always useful when identifying any plant or animal.
. . . do not remove the plant. In the age of cellphone photography, you can take pretty informative pictures if you know what you are photographing. This is both for your safety and the plant’s. WARNING: one photo of your mystery plant will probably rarely be enough. Here are the type of photos you will want to take:
1. Photograph the reproductive parts. Flowers are most helpful, followed by fruits.
2. Photograph the leaves. One leaf could be made up of many leaflets. Look for a bud where a leaf meets a branch or stem to determine if it has one or many leaflets. Knowing whether a leaf is made of one leaflet (simple) or many leaflets (compound) and the arrangement of leaflets is extremely helpful.
3. Photograph where leaves meet the stem. There are three main arrangements that leaves can have around a stem: alternate, opposite, and whorled.
4. Take a picture of the whole plant. This is important for knowing if this mystery plant is an herb, shrub, or tree. It also provides context for where the plant is growing, bark characteristics, etc.