TAMARACKS: Trees of Smoky Gold

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The wind-swept, snow-laced dawn of November did not bring a total end to the magnificent kaleidoscope of colors that bathed October woodlands in the raw beauty of seasonal change. The brilliant leaves of sassafras, red maple and sugar maple are now huddled together on the forest floor offering shelter to tiny creatures underneath. Oak leaves are now brown and crackle in cold winds, but they do not fall to the ground until spring, for that is their way. Yet, in our healthy wetlands, a tree of subtle and brilliant beauty has reached peak color and seemingly illuminates the landscape at sunrise. Again at sunset, the view calls to mind shimmering lanterns of smoky gold.  The tamarack tree (Larix laricina), also known as the American Larch, went virtually unnoticed and unsung, until now. Continue reading

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The Woods are on Fire; with the Blaze-Orange Color of Sassafras

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) has set our woodland edges on fire with leaves that transformed from a dull green to a brilliant flame-orange color. The history and lore of this beautiful native tree of Oakland County is as rich and eye-catching as the autumn color of its uniquely shaped leaves. Three differently shaped leaves appear on the branches of this aromatic tree. As Michigan residents, we all recognize the mitten shape, the simple-looking leaf is known botanically as ‘entire’ and then there is the unmistakable three-lobed leaf.

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