After a month of warm weather, these cherry trees were fooled into blooming in early January at Carnegie Museum.
Then last Monday the temperature dropped into the single digits and hit everything that couldn’t get out of its way. Nothing could protect those delicate pink flowers.
Unlike plants, birds can get out of the way and some of them decided to leave this week. In my neighborhood, there were many American robins in December but most of them have left since the cold snap. Did your robins leave, too?
Meanwhile, don’t be fooled by today’s warmth. Here’s a graph of Pittsburgh’s actual and predicted morning low temperatures for the first two weeks of January.
The project, fittingly called trees, attaches sensitive microphones to trunks, branches and even leaves, then records the sounds and analyzes them in light of simultaneous environmental factors such as drought. Click here and scroll down to hear the clicks, pops, hisses and taps made by a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Closer to home our trees are getting ready for spring, the sap is running, and it’s maple sugaring time in North America.
And so I wonder …
If we had those special microphones could we heard the sap rising in the maples? Or is it so loud that we can hear it by putting our ears to the trees?
I’ll have to see.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the originals)
These very different leaves came from the same tree.
Sassafras turns red and yellow in the fall showing off its unlobed leaves, two-lobed “mittens” and three-lobed “paws.” All three shapes grow on the same tree including both right and left-handed mittens (I checked).
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is a medium-sized tree native to eastern North America from southern Maine to Florida to eastern Texas. In Pennsylvania it grows everywhere except on the central high plateau of the Northern Tier.
The tree’s roots, bark, shoots and fruit were used directly in many foods, drinks, perfumes and medicines (think “root beer”) until the essential oil, safrole, was discovered to be carcinogenic and outlawed by the FDA in 1960. Sassafras by-products can still be used in food and cosmetics as long as they’re certified safrole-free. Safrole is used in pesticides.
In Europe people plant sassafras as an ornamental for its aromatic scent and unusual leaves.