Thursday, October 1, 2009

Festival of the Trees #40, the benefits of trees

Northern New England autumn leaves, courtesy of Letters from a Hill Farm

Aspen gold by Priscilla Stuckey, PhD of this lively earth is the perfect kick-off to this edition of Festival of the Trees. First, it feels like fall in New York City where this edition was written. Second, Priscilla's post perfectly captures some of the psychological benefits of trees. She writes,

A photo cannot capture the sensation of being surrounded by a thousand twinkling prisms of golden light.
and
And then there is the special aroma of aspens. Sniffing an aspen grove sometimes makes me imagine that I’ve discovered an ancient wooden chest that sat empty for centuries, and I suddenly lift the lid.

After all, trees are usually preserved and planted because of their appeal to our senses.

DN Lee of Urban Science Adventures! is working on her PhD dissertation; she's 72% there according to her dissertation progress meter. Lee writes about the shade-giving Mimosa Tree in her paternal grandmother's back yard.

I remember this tree as magical. Shorter than the other trees in the yard, but much, much taller than me, this tree always provided a cool, shady spot in the backyard.

And a Mimosa at the War Veterans Memorial in Rennes, France.

Yes, it still can do important jobs like provide food and shelter for animals and insects, but we plant it because it's pretty and provide shade to people.

In another post about trees seen in France, DN Lee remarks that she did not see acorns last fall in the U.S. Well, this year she might.

Courtesy of Hoarded Ordinaries

Lorianne of Hoarded Ordinaries has noticed a big acorn mast in Newton, Massachusetts and throughout New England. Why the bumper crop in New England? According to a Boston.com article,

Scientists say oak trees produce bumper crops of acorns every two to seven years, but that the record snowfalls and rain over the past year have helped the acorns bloom larger and in greater numbers than they otherwise would have. No one in the state tracks the actual number of acorns every year, but observers from the Blue Hills to the Berkshires say they can’t remember a larger crop.
Wildlife are the beneficiaries of this bumper mast. Also from Boston.com,
...the extra acorns will probably reverberate across the food chain, enabling more squirrels, skunks, chipmunks, mice, deer, and bears to survive the winter. As a result, predators such as hawks, coyote, foxes, and others are also likely to flourish next year, when there is more prey.

Courtesy of Rock Paper Lizard

Acorns may be wildlife booty, but horse chestnut fruits are wind-given "kid treasure" writes Hugh of Rock Paper Lizard. You cannot eat horse chestnuts but you can eat the fruit and sap of the Palmyra Palm or nongu (in Tamil). Arati of Trees, Plants and More writes,

The fruit is edible, is similar to the flesh of the lychee and is very cooling. Very refreshing in these incredibly hot and humid summers! The sugary sap from this tree is used to make an alcoholic beverage (toddy) and a concentrated sugar, used in indian cooking (jaggery).

Another Tamil treat can be made from the flowers of the neem tree. Head to Trees, Plants and More for the recipe.

Courtesy of Rambling Woods

Rambling Woods's beautifully illustrated post about a wetland woods "in a western NY suburb" was written specifically for this issue of FOTT. The woods, pictured above, provide habitat for

... a pair of horned owls and they nest every February finding small rodents to feed their nestlings. Black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatcheds, tufted titmice, northern cardinals, blue jays and other species call this area home....

But all is not well in the woods. Fewer "large tracts of mature trees" mean less habitat for large woodpeckers like the Pileated Woodpecker and increased conflicts between humans and wildlife such as coyotes, white-tailed deer, and "even black bears." Another walk through the woods, this one more upbeat, is provided by Seabrooke of the Marvelous in nature. Seabrooke's "artifical" natural forest houses

A total of 141 species of birds have been tallied from the forest, including such rare or threatened species as Evening Grosbeak, Northern Goshawk, and Whip-poor-will. Other groups, including herpetiles, mammals, butterflies, odonates, vascular plants, and others, have also been documented. They’ve even got a moth list, which stands at 211 species, probably representing only a handful of nights of effort, given that any mothing parties would by necessity need to be brought in and run off of a generator.

This Festival ends with a return to the city with one of our - local ecologist - posts. We travelled to Chicago this summer and fell in love with the city all over again.

The city is lined with street gardens which not only beautify the streets but also mitigate Chicago's urban heat island. With the cooler temperatures of fall here one might want as much heat as possible. But these gardens help cool Chicago during its famously hot summers. And during rain events, their permeable surfaces not only absorb rain but don't contribute to runoff.

The November Festival, FOTT #41, will be hosted by Juliana of Blog do Arvores Vivas. The theme of FOTT 41 is "If I were a tree" and submissions are due to arvoresvivas (at) gmail.com by October 29, 2009. I enjoyed compiling your submissions for FOTT 40; thanks to Dave Bonta for the opportunity to do so, again!

5 comments:

  1. very nicely put together. thank you georgia,

    arati

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  2. A good collection and enjoyable read. Thanks for including me in this month's carnival! Once again, I'd missed the submission deadline.

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  3. Lovely narrative to weave all the posts together. I hope I wasn't too downbeat in my post. I was trying to illustrate some the challenges with sprawl in our area. But nothing puts a smile of my face faster than getting out and enjoying the woods... Michelle

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  4. Thanks for this lovely collection, Georgia, and thanks for including me. I love hearing about others' relationships with trees and seeing appreciation for trees condensed into such beautiful photos.

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  5. Great Festival - I especially love the images and news about nuts. Thanks for hosting for October!

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Thank you for commenting on this post and hope to hear from you, soon.