A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
March 15, 2001 

Page 4: Wild Grapes, Ash Buds, & the Southeast Path

AArchives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

The developing leaves on this small tree (at right and below) are pinnately-compound (sometimes referred to as feather-compound) with an odd number of leaflets; pairs of leaflets emanate from the midrib of the leaf, but the leaf terminates in a single terminal leaflet. Sometimes this is referred to in the literature as "odd-pinnate". The presence of the terminal leaflet is one key to the identification of the species. 

Three species of Ash are commonly found wild in Texas. Two of these, the Water Ash and the Green Ash, are generally associated with swamps and shorelines and would not find Fern Bluff Park very enticing. That leaves the White Ash (Fraxinus americana), noted for having round twigs, furrowed bark, and deeply notched leaf scars. We will have more to say on this after next week's walk.

At right is a view to the south of the southeast path through the park. 

Go to Page 5.

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

 

The tiny flower buds of this grape have not yet opened. When they do, they will add more information that will help us identity the species of this vine.

Note also that the leaves are opposite, that is, they are positioned on the green twig so that a line drawn perpendicular to the twig, through the center of the attachment of one midrib, and through the center of the twig, will intersect another midrib on the other side of the twig. This is a very important key, because there are only a few trees in our area with this feature. Most other trees found here with pinnately-compound leaves arrange their leaves so that they alternate on the twig (a line drawn as previously described will not intersect another midrib on the other side of the twig, but will fall approximately midway between two midribs on that side, one higher and the other lower on the twig). When we find opposite pinnately-compound leaves on a tree, we may safely assume the tree to be either an Ash, an Ashleaf Maple, or a Japanese Corktree .     

Ashleaf Maples (commonly known as Box Elders) have white twigs and 3-5 leaflets to each leaf. Since the mature twigs of this tree are brown, and the leaves have 5-7 leaflets, we will expand our search. The Japanese Corktree has reddish twigs, 5-13 leaflets to a leaf. Its leaflets are uniquely toothless, but our tree has toothed leaflets. We must expand our search further.

At least three shrubs (specifically, species of Bladdernut and Elderberry) have leaves similar to our specimen, but they are rarely found in Texas. If we eliminate them from consideration, we are left with the Ashes.  


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