My bur oak branch in the spring

Is it really spring if you still pull the long johns out every morning and give them serious thought?

Almost six weeks after my calendar declared spring sprung, my bur oak branch on the University of Minnesota campus has finally shown enough budding action to warrant a progress report.  Here’s how it looked in this morning’s sunshine:

I wouldn’t say those buds are bursting. Maybe just budging.

But compared to February’s protective scales,

today’s buds definitely look alive.

This bur oak tree, just outside Eddy Hall, had no leaves on it throughout the winter. Some oaks do tend to hang onto their leaves in the fall. I tried to find out which ones do and which ones don’t. I heard so many conflicting things that I decided it wouldn’t be smart for me to make any pronouncements about 1) what oak trees do with their leaves, 2) when they do it, or 3) why. But I can recommend a very readable article on the subject written by a Vermont forester.

All oak trees, no matter which type, should be grateful that budding in the spring is not a competitive sport. The willows in my neighborhood were much, much further along several days ago:

Arnold Lobel’s lovable Toad encouraged the seeds in his garden to sprout by singing and reading to them. In that spirit, I send a warm message to the oak buds in the languages studied by the students who trudge past the tree and through the door of Eddy Hall.

Abrete, capullo. Ya es primavera!

Abre, botão! É primavera!

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5 Responses to My bur oak branch in the spring

  1. Joyce Sidman says:

    Buds are buds. I’m for ’em! And can’t wait to see that special, delicate chartreuse of new leaves . . .

  2. LisaPeters says:

    Thanks, everybody. I tried out the new monopod today and quickly discovered its advantages (less wear and tear on the soil and shrubbery underfoot) and disadvantages (whoa, it wobbles, there goes the focus).

    Yup. Marcescence: oaks hanging onto dead plant organs (leaves) for unknown purposes. I might have to look a little harder into this whole idea. Seems like a mystery.

  3. Vicky says:

    OMG, Lisa! I’ve always known you’re an excellent writer, but those photos–WOW!!! Those prints should be enlarged and hung on your wall!

  4. Anne says:

    Gorgeous, Lisa! I hope you keep us updated on those buds. I always think it feels like New Year’s Day the day that the trees first appear with their earliest green coats.

  5. Dave says:

    A wonderful word — marcescence. Retention of dead matter. I’ll try to work it into a sentence this weekend.