“Pic of the Week”, January 15, 2016: Aspens

Vail 9-2007 237

Those of us who live near the Rocky Mountains are very familiar with quaking aspens, a species of tree I’ve grown increasingly fond of over the years.  These trees have characteristic white bark and green leaves in the summer (that shimmer in the wind, hence “quaking”).  The leaves turn a beautiful golden-yellow color in the fall.

Aspen trees are striking when you come across a stand of them, especially in an evergreen forest.  Their white bark makes them seem like guardians or sentinels.  But one of the aspens’ more interesting features is their “eyes”.  Of course the trees aren’t actually watching you, but if you look at the main trunk of a larger aspen you’re likely to see dark markings against …

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“Pic of the Week”. May 9, 2014. Baobob Trees, Botswana

2014 19a May 9b  Baobob tree, Botswana

One of the iconic symbols of Africa is the baobob tree (although a species of it also grows in Australia).   Shaped somewhat like a bottle, with a broad trunk and sharply narrowed top, the trees can reach up to 30 meters (100′) in height and can hold lots of water — a distinctive advantage in the dry season.  They are said to be long-lived, perhaps even thousands of years old if left undisturbed (although they are not that well studied and rarely survive to old age in continental Africa).  Baobob trees have a short leaf season and most often you’ll see the trees without any leaves.

It’s a bit of a thrill to see these trees, not unlike seeing a …

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