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May 13, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Greening of the Hardwoods

I found a new area for hiking west of Madison and I am thrilled with my new tramping grounds. There is a rolling long field, overgrown with wild things, and currently covered with yellow rocket in full bloom. I know the plant is considered an invasive pest, but it was a rather pretty sight nonetheless.

Yellow Rocket Field

On either side of the open land are woodlands, mostly Maple, Ash, White Oak, though quite a few Elm, and a large stand of Shagbark Hickories. The trees are just greening, as evidenced by these photos of their unfurling leaves.

Unfurling White Oak Leaves

This White Oak grows in eastern and central North America, 100 feet, sometimes up to 150 feet tall. This is one enormous, mind-boggling tree.

Shag Hickory, Unfurling

I love the unfurling of the Shagbark Hickory leaves. Take a close look at the marvelous structure of the tree and her leaves at this stage. The hickory is my favorite tree – the bark is a spactacular show of evolutionary wit. After the tree has matured-30 to 40 years-the bark begins to peel off in shaggy, curly strips. This presents a sharply angled obstacle course for the squirrels who come to feast and ‘squirrel’ away the acorn nuts.

Bursting Forth from an Ash

And here is a leaf from a younger ash tree, just beginning to open-looks quite like a leafy green rosebud

I recognized dozens of different wildflowers, many in bloom – I probably saw a thousand Jack in the Pulpits. I’ve never seen so many in one place before, plus there was a carpet of Hepatica (Bloodroot) dropping down and across a large ravine, though not yet in bloom, and seas of Mayapples, their little umbrellas now fully extended. I’ll put the photos of the flowers in the next post. But now, I may just go take another short hike before the weather cools.


  1. HeyJules / May 13 2008 9:21 am

    Beautiful area! These photos really do it justice.

  2. Gandalf / May 13 2008 10:01 am

    Lucky you with respect to the new tramping grouds. Enjoy them and send pictures.

  3. Robin / May 13 2008 12:48 pm

    It looks like you found a beautiful new area to capture in photos. 🙂

    The shagbark hickory is one of my favorites, too.

  4. Anna Surface / May 13 2008 7:29 pm

    I really like the photo of the tender and young White Oak leaves. It’s really nice to find a new area that inspires. Beautiful photo captures. 🙂

  5. montucky / May 13 2008 7:53 pm

    Isn’t it great to have a new place to explore and enjoy!

  6. Bo / May 13 2008 9:34 pm

    Jules – I’m always excited to explore, especially when I can have the place nearly to myself.

    Gandalf – I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

    Robin – that hickory is a tough guy tree.

    Anna – It was pretty interesting, with all the trees just opening in the warmth.

    montucky – yep!

  7. amelia / May 14 2008 1:14 am

    I never really look at trees when the leaves opening. They are really neat, aren’t they like different plants.


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