Sunday, April 26, 2015

Taking a Closer Look

 Our morning hike up Boyle Ravine was mostly shady and cool.  Lots of dew.  In contrast, a ray of sunlight shone through the branches of Douglas-fir and Incense Cedar and brightly illuminated this Mountain Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii.  Interesting that this is not one single flower, and those large white expanses are not petals.  However, there would be no harm done if you called them petals.  Click on the second photo for a close-up and you'll see that the central
disk is actually a cluster of individual little flowers.  The white expanses surrounding the disk of flowers are bracts.  The is a great tree to follow throughout the seasons as it will have bright-colored leaves in the fall and eventually bright red berries when the flowers and bracts fall off.  The pattern of leaf venation is also very distinguishable in most, if not all, species of Cornus.  I remember many years ago while hiking above the treeline on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, my brother and I came across some ground cover that intrigued us.  The plants were only six or so inches tall, and the leaves looked like miniatures of the Dogwoods we have in California.  We remarked "it looks something like a bonsai Dogwood, but it couldn't be."  After our hike we purchased a Field Guide to White Mountain Wildflowers, and it turns out it was a dogwood!  Neither of us is a botanist.  We're just plant enthusiasts, so it was fun to have noticed the relationship.

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