Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Morning Gold and Friday Quiz Results (with Confessions)

I found this lovely male American Goldfinch early this morning as I was leaving Roundtop. My first confession of the day is that I didn't notice this lovely bird until I thought I had already snapped my morning photo for this blog post. I was taking a photo of the mother of all thistle plants. It was much taller than I am, as tall as a small tree. When I finished, I turned and discovered Mr. Goldfinch, who was probably wondering what in the heck I was doing in his thistle patch. He stayed long enough for me to take a few photos of him.

Now for my next confession. I thought I knew what the species was of the tree with red berries that I posted for my Friday quiz, but I am no longer sure that’s the case. I even asked a person I know who knows a lot about trees, and I ended up with yet another answer. Of course, all the people I asked saw the photo and not the tree itself, so that may be part of the problem with the numerous identifications.

Here’s the rundown of possible species. I though it was a black cherry tree (also known as wild cherry). I confess, however, that I didn’t pay much attention to the tree when I took the photo, as I was actually photographing something else and suddenly saw the berries over my shoulder, so I quickly grabbed the shot and moved on. I did think I could relocate the tree to confirm the identification, but that has not proved to be the case. Serviceberry has also been mentioned as a choice, as has hackberry and dogwood. All these choices have at least a few issues, so let’s go through the choices and see where that takes us.

Hackberry: Twigs are hairy, the base of the leaves are rounded and one side of the leaves are toothed. In my photo, the base of the leaves are as pointy as the tips. The leaves have no teeth, and the stems don’t look hairy. So let’s cross this one off.

Serviceberry: Leaves are pointed and notched at base, finely saw-toothed, 11-17 straight veins on each side. This sounds good up to the saw-toothed leaves. Try as I might, I can’t find any evidence that the leaves are saw-toothed, even finely. And there aren’t 11-17 veins, and the veins curve near the tip of the leaf., so I think I have to rule this one out.

Black cherry: leaves elliptical, finely saw-toothed (there’s that word again) with curved or blunt teeth (whatever that means), dark bark with horizontal lines on the tree’s trunk and an elliptical stone to the fruit, which starts out red and then turns blackish. I still can’t see anything that looks like the leaves are saw-toothed, even if it’s a blunt or curved kind of saw-toothing. The dried berry or stone in the middle of the photo does look elliptical. I see no evidence that the fruit is turning black-ish, though. If anything, it appears to be going from red directly to the brownish stone. So I’m thinking this guess isn’t right either.

Dogwood: Leaves are elliptical (so far so good) that appear not toothed but tiny teeth are visible under a lens (okay I’ll give this one a pass) with 6-7 long carved veins on each side of the mid-vein. So far this one sounds good. Fruit is berry-like, elliptical and shiny red with several at the end of a long stalk. Okay, I was all ready to buy into this one, right up until the long stalk, which this tree doesn’t show at all. And the photos of the dogwood berry all show 4-5 berries clumped together, which is how I'm used to seeing them, but this tree shows no more than two and that just once. The other berries are all singles. Still, of all the guesses, this one seems to have more of the identification points than the others.

So maybe it’s a dogwood. (Congrats to sister on this one) But I still want to find that tree again for one final check. Isn't that just how it goes? Just when you think you know something, you find out there's more to the story. But that's what makes it fun.


Lynne said...

Sometimes it is the learning along the way that's more important and fun than the answer!

Cathy said...

Oh I did look up dogwood but thought it wasn't that either. Rats. It was those blasted berries that made me thinks it was something else. Grr!