This year, we had a balmy January that made me think spring had sprung, complete with flowers in bloom. We know what happened next, in February: Snowpocalypse.
Now it’s the end of February and most of the snow is gone. How are the trees doing? Are the leaves budding as expected?
Here are photos from the past few days of buds on native trees/shrubs of the Pacific NW. See whether you can identify them!
These twin buds, slightly reddish, are on a large and fast-growing native deciduous tree. The tree is abundant west of the Cascades and on Vancouver Island. The leaves that emerge from these buds will be huge and deeply lobed. Later in the fall, seeds will twirl down from the tree like helicopters. What tree is this?
These twin buds, also slightly reddish, are on a much smaller tree—often a shrub—in the same family as the first tree shown above. This tree/shrub is abundant in the understory, generally west of the Cascades. The leaves that emerge from these buds will be small, with multiple lobes. And like the first tree shown above, later in the fall, seeds will twirl down like helicopters. What tree is this?
This blunt bud is on the Pacific NW’s most-common broadleaf tree. The tree has smooth mushroom-colored bark, though more often than not the bark is covered by white lichens that look very much like white paint. This tree is critical to the region’s ecosystems because it hosts nitrogen-fixing bacteria in tiny nodules on the roots. These bacteria are able to convert gaseous nitrogen from air bubbles in the soil into nitrogen ions that plants and animals need to grow. What tree is this?
This long, sharp bud is on a fast-growing broadleaf tree. This species is the largest broadleaf tree in western North America. It grows in or near wetlands, lakes, streams, and other water bodies. It is a favorite food-trees of beavers, along with aspens, alders, and willows. Young bark is thin and whitish. Old bark becomes thick, gray, and corky. The leaf that emerges from this bud will be somewhat triangular. Leaves are glossy green on top and whitish on the bottom. They flip back and forth in the breeze, making the tree sparkle. Later in the spring, seeds encased in cotton-like balls will drift around like snow. What tree is this?
These buds are on a tall shrub that typically has many arching stems. It is abundant west of the Cascades. It is often the first shrub or tree to leaf out and flower at the beginning of the year. That’s why these buds are much more developed than the buds in the other photos. This shrub bears fruit that resembles a small plum. What shrub is this?
This sharp bud is on the most common tree in the Pacific NW. (This photo shows the bottom side of a twig.) This species is the most important timber resource in the world. It is one of the tallest trees in the world—possibly second only to coast redwood. In the early 1800s, David Douglas, a Scottish naturalist, collected live seeds from Washington state and shipped them to England, introducing the tree to European cultivation. Bark on mature trees becomes thick and deeply furrowed. The tree bears cones that have “mousetails” protruding on top of each scale. What tree is this?
The tiny bud shown here will double in size before it is ready to open.
These two photos show two different species of related shrubs. They grow in wet areas, often next to water bodies. The furry elongated balls are the beginnings of male flowers. They are among the earliest catkins to emerge each year. The fuzz acts as insulation from February’s chill. The leaves will emerge from different buds later in the spring. In the Pacific NW, there are about 50 different species of this type (or genus) of shrub, only a few of which are likely to attain “tree” size. What are these?
All of these buds look normal to me. I am unable to tell whether they have been delayed by February’s Snowpocalypse. Do you know? Please comment!