Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blowing In The Wind

Ulmus parvifolia

This time of year in other regions, the leaves of the trees are turning the reds and golds we all associate with the season and as the leaves start to fall, folks are out raking and trying to keep ahead of the mess. Since most of my trees are native trees that retain their leaves, I don’t have to get into the leaf raking business.

However, the two Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia) in my front yard are semi-deciduous, and by January, many, if not all the leaves will have dropped. In late November, some leaves become a brown-red color before falling. Others remain green, and if the weather is mild, those leaves will remain.

Right now, the Chinese Elms have formed fruit, called samaras, that are flat, quarter-inch flakes with a seed in the center. I think the trees, with their still-green fruit, are at their most attractive. Soon, these little winged fruits will start drying. Once dry, they will be thin and papery, and easily dislodge and blow in the wind.

Because of location of the trees, the samaras end up in my courtyard on the rough cobblestone pavers. They pile up in all the cracks, and my fountain becomes a sea of samaras. The texture, size, and shape of the samaras make them difficult to sweep up. It seems like they cling tenaciously to any surface. I have to use a blower to get them out of the courtyard. I think raking leaves would be the easier job!

My Chinese Elms are young and currently only 15 feet high, but these trees can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet and have a spread of 40 feet. I can’t even imagine the mess! My courtyard will be knee deep in samaras. I really don’t think I need to worry about that. By the time the trees reach that size, I’ll be blowing in the wind myself.


Julie said...

Very funny!

kate said...

This looks like a beautiful tree. It's hard to imagine the leaves not turning colour and then falling off. From the sounds of it, the seeds alone cause enough of a mess (a bit like elm or maple seeds that cover my garden - grr...)

I had to laugh reading your comment about blowing in the wind yourself. We'll all be doing that some day!

No Rain said...

To borrow from Bob Dylan:
"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind."