Malloryville Apple Blossoms

A Memory from 2010

Our home at Malloryville, New York has an orchard of three apple trees, seen here on early one spring morning in the year 2010. The varieties are Delicious, Cortland and McIntosh. Freeville, Tompkins County, New York State

The original wild ancestor of Malus domestica was Malus sieversii, found growing wild in the mountains of Central Asia in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and northwestern China. Cultivation of the species, most likely beginning on the forested flanks of the Tian Shan mountains, progressed over a long period of time and permitted secondary introgression of genes from other species into the open-pollinated seeds.

Chinese soft apples, such as M. asiatica and M. prunifolia, have been cultivated as dessert apples for more than 2000 years in China. These are thought to be hybrids between M. baccata and M. sieversii in Kazakhstan.

Among the traits selected for by human growers are size, fruit acidity, color, firmness, and soluble sugar. Unusually for domesticated fruits, the wild M. sieversii origin is only slightly smaller than the modern domesticated apple.

At the Sammardenchia-Cueis site near Udine in Northeastern Italy, seeds from some form of apples have been found in material carbon dated to around 4000 BCE.[20] Genetic analysis has not yet been successfully used to determine whether such ancient apples were wild Malus sylvestris or Malus domesticus containing Malus sieversii ancestry. It is generally also hard to distinguish in the archeological record between foraged wild apples and apple plantations.

There is indirect evidence of apple cultivation in the third millennium BCE in the Middle East. There was substantial apple production in the European classical antiquity, and grafting was certainly known then. Grafting is an essential part of modern domesticated apple production, to be able to propagate the best cultivars; it is unclear when apple tree grafting was invented.

The proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, addressing the supposed health benefits of the fruit, has been traced to 19th-century Wales, where the original phrase was “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”. In the 19th century and early 20th, the phrase evolved to “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” and “an apple a day sends the doctor away”; the phrasing now commonly used was first recorded in 1922.

Reference: Wikipedia “Apple”

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved


Spring has returned to the Finger Lakes

Maypoles are erected as signs that the happy season of warmth and comfort had returned, part of the general rejoicing at the return of summer, and the growth of new vegetation. In this way, they bore similarities with the May Day garlands which were also a common festival practice in Britain and Ireland. Look closely and you’ll spot garlands worn in the crowd.

Before the performance, the teacher explained the educational rationale for the dance, having to do with sensory development, especially proprioception: also referred to as kinanesthesia (or kinesthesia), is the sense of self-movement, force, and body position. It is sometimes described as the “sixth sense”.

I included Kayvon’s two grandmothers discussing the art of wool spinning, making yard on a spinning wheel. I used the children’s songs, at the end, as theme music throughout. I was going to overlay the first song over the grandmothers until I reviewed the cut and decided the “cookoo, cookoo, cookoo” song would not be appreciated.

The earliest use of the Maypole in America occurred in 1628, when William Bradford, governor of New Plymouth, wrote of an incident where a number of servants, together with the aid of an agent, broke free from their indentured service to create their own colony, setting up a maypole in the center of the settlement, and behaving in such a way as to receive the scorn and disapproval of the nearby colonies, as well as an officer of the king, bearing patent for the state of Massachusetts. Bradford writes:

They also set up a Maypole, drinking and dancing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking together, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practices. As if they had a new revived & celebrated the feasts of the Roman Goddess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians. Morton likewise (to shew his poetry) composed sundry rimes & verses, some tending to lasciviousness, and others to the detraction & scandal of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idol Maypole. They changed also the name of their place, and instead of calling it Mount Wollaston, they call it Merie-mounted, as if this jollity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, shortly after came over that worthy gentleman, Mr. John Indecott, who brought a patent under the broad seal, for the government of Massachusetts, who visiting those parts caused the Maypole to be cut down, and rebuked them for their profanes, and admonished them to look there should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed the name of their place again, and called it Mount-Dagon.

Governor Bradford’s censure of the Maypole tradition played a central role in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fictional story “The Maypole of Merry Mount”, published in 1837.

Source: Wikipedia “Maypole” and “proprioception.”

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Cagey Character

On a splayed perch

A Great Blue Heron spotted from Bear Trail during a family hike, perched on a splayed root of a tree undercut by flooding, fallen into Buttermilk Creek bed.

A heron recurves its long neck while perched. Adult herons have few natural predators and are rarely preyed upon due to their large size and sharp beak, but bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are known to attack great blue herons at every stage of their lifecycle from in the egg to adulthood.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Wild Sunflower

Composed of Ray Florets

As with other members of the family Asteraceae. Thinleaved Sunflowers are composed of ray florets. The scientific species name “decapetalus” is inaccurate on several counts. The flower is composed of 8-12 (not only 10, as in “deca”) of these ray florets, not petals. These ray florets are part of the flower reproductive organs, a flower petal is adjacent to, not a component of, a flowers reproductive parts.

Found growing August 24, 2019 along a sunny trail, The flowers attract many kinds of insects, including bees and butterflies, some of which, such as the painted lady and the silvery checkerspot, use the plant as a larval host. The seeds provide a source of food for birds. Muskrats eat the leaves and stems and use the stems in the construction of their lodges. Here we see a honeybee gathering nectar and pollen.

August 20129, Buttermilk Falls New York State Park, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Overwhelmed by Driftwood

Fishing with chaos

Treman lake is formed by a dam on Buttermilk Creek, the trail around the lake is less frequented and popular with the locals, climbing up and down the glacially formed hills.  Some popular resorts maintain trails that feed into the park.

A footbridge framed by hemlock trees traverses Buttermilk Creek where the East and West Treman Lake Trails meet. This season, 2019, this bridge was overwhelmed by driftwood piled up by spring flooding, impassable. We pick our way across the creek bed and over the water. Little ones needed a carry. An adult fisherman, to right of driftwood, provides perspective.

August 20129, Buttermilk Falls New York State Park, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Glacial Erratic, unremarked

This maple tree is one of the first plants to flower in spring.

Pam and I ambled around the Arboretum for our Easter 2023 outing.

Click Me for “Finger Lakes Memories” my online gallery.

All photography using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone.

We find boulders of crystalline rock, commonly derived from Adirondack sources, left behind on the surface of ablation moraine, in the Finger Lakes Region.

Cornell finds some and move them, maybe the case for this unremarked erratic found along the Allen Trail of FR Newman Arboretum.

Another enormous erratic, brought in from the Sixmile Creek valley, was carved into a seat as a memorial to Professor R.S. Tarr who deciphered much of the glacial history of the Finger Lakes Region. Find it at the southwest corner of McCraw Hall on the Cornell University Campus.

History (from wikipedia)

During the 18th century, erratics were deemed a major geological paradox. Geologists identify erratics by studying the rocks surrounding the position of the erratic and the rock of the erratic itself. Erratics were once considered evidence of a biblical flood, but in the 19th century scientists gradually came to accept that erratics pointed to an ice age in Earth’s past. Among others, the Swiss politician, jurist, theologian Bernhard Friedrich Kuhn [de] saw glaciers as a possible solution as early as 1788. However, the idea of ice ages and glaciation as a geological force took a while to be accepted. Ignaz Venetz (1788–1859), a Swiss engineer, naturalist and glaciologist was one of the first scientists to recognize glaciers as a major force in shaping the earth.

In the 19th century, many scientists came to favor erratics as evidence for the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (ice age) 10,000 years ago, rather than a flood. Geologists have suggested that landslides or rockfalls initially dropped the rocks on top of glacial ice. The glaciers continued to move, carrying the rocks with them. When the ice melted, the erratics were left in their present locations.

Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (v. 1, 1830) provided an early description of the erratic which is consistent with the modern understanding. Louis Agassiz was the first to scientifically propose that the Earth had been subject to a past ice age. In the same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Prior to this proposal, Goethe, de Saussure, Venetz, Jean de Charpentier, Karl Friedrich Schimper and others had made the glaciers of the Alps the subjects of special study, and Goethe,[15] Charpentier as well as Schimper had even arrived at the conclusion that the erratic blocks of alpine rocks scattered over the slopes and summits of the Jura Mountains had been moved there by glaciers.

Charles Darwin published extensively on geologic phenomena including the distribution of erratic boulders. In his accounts written during the voyage of HMS Beagle, Darwin observed several large erratic boulders of notable size south of the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego and attributed them to ice rafting from Antarctica. Recent research suggests that they are more likely the result of glacial ice flows carrying the boulders to their current locations.

The Finger Lakes Region: Its Origin and Nature,” O.D. von Engeln, Cornell University Press, 1961 page 106.
Wikipedia, “Glacial Erratics”
Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

White Birch Bark

Also known as Canoe Birch

Pam and I ambled around the Arboretum for our Easter 2023 outing.

Click Me for “Finger Lakes Memories” my online gallery.

All photography using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone.

Betula papyrifera, common names Paper Birch, (American) White Birch, Canoe Birch, is a short-lived species of birch native to northern North America. Paper birch is named for the tree’s thin white bark, which often peels in paper like layers from the trunk. Paper birch is often one of the first species to colonize a burned area within the northern latitudes and is an important species for moose browsing. The primary commercial uses for paper birch wood are boltwood and sawlogs, while secondary products include firewood and pulpwood. It is the provincial tree of Saskatchewan and the state tree of New Hampshire.

As you can see in the following photoghraph, Betula papyrifera is a medium-sized deciduous tree typically reaching 20 meters (66 feet) tall, and exceptionally to 40 m (130 ft) with a trunk up to 75 centimeters (30 inches) in diameter. Within forests, it often grows with a single trunk but when grown as a landscape tree it may develop multiple trunks or branch close to the ground.

Paper birch is a typically short-lived species. It handles heat and humidity poorly and may live only 30 years in zones six and up, while trees in colder-climate regions can grow for more than 100 years. Betula papyrifera will grow in many soil types, from steep rocky outcrops to flat muskegs of the boreal forest. Best growth occurs in deeper, well drained to dry soils, depending on the location.

White Birch is a pioneer species, meaning it is often one of the first trees to grow in an area after other trees are removed by some sort of disturbance. Typical disturbances colonized by paper birch are wildfire, avalanche, or windthrow areas where the wind has blown down all trees. When it grows in these pioneer, or early successional, woodlands, it often forms stands of trees where it is the only species, a feature emulated in this Cornell Botanical Garden planting. Paper Birch is considered well adapted to fires because it recovers quickly by means of reseeding the area or regrowth from the burned tree. The lightweight seeds are easily carried by the wind to burned areas, where they quickly germinate and grow into new trees. Paper birch is adapted to ecosystems where fires occur every 50 to 150 years for example, it is frequently an early invader after fire in black spruce boreal forests. As paper birch is a pioneer species, finding it within mature or climax forests is rare because it will be overcome by trees that are more shade tolerant as secondary succession progresses.

For example, in Alaskan boreal forests, a paper birch stand 20 years after a fire may have 3,000–6,000 trees per acre (7,400–14,800/ha), but after 60 to 90 years, the number of trees will decrease to 500–800 trees per acre (1,200–2,000/ha) as spruce replaces the birch. After approximately 75 years, the birch will start dying and by 125 years, most paper birch will have disappeared unless another fire burns the area.

Paper birch trees themselves have varied reactions to wildfire. A group, or stand, of paper birch is not particularly flammable. The canopy often has a high moisture content, the understory is often lush green. As such, conifer crown fires often stop once they reach a stand of paper birch or become slower-moving ground fires. Since these stands are fire-resistant, they may become seed trees to reseed the area around them that was burned. However, in dry periods, paper birch is flammable and will burn rapidly. As the bark is flammable, it often will burn and may girdle the tree.

These metal tags are excellent signposts hanging from the branches on coated wire. Paper birch is a typically short-lived species. It handles heat and humidity poorly and may live only 30 years in zones six and up, while trees in colder-climate regions can grow for more than 100 years. Betula papyrifera will grow in many soil types, from steep rocky outcrops to flat muskegs of the boreal forest. Best growth occurs in deeper, well drained to dry soils, depending on the location.

In older trees, the bark is white, commonly brightly so, flaking in fine horizontal strips to reveal a pinkish or salmon-colored inner bark. It often has small black marks and scars. In individuals younger than five years, the bark appears a brown-red color with white lenticels, making the tree much harder to distinguish from other birches. The bark is highly weather-resistant. It has a high oil content; this gives it its waterproof and weather-resistant characteristics. Often, the wood of a downed paper birch will rot away, leaving the hollow bark intact.

Birch bark is a winter staple food for moose. The nutritional quality is poor because of the large quantities of lignin, which makes digestion difficult, but is important to wintering moose because of its sheer abundance. Moose prefer paper birch over aspen, alder, and balsam poplar, but they prefer willow (Salix spp.) over birch and the other species listed. Although moose consume large amounts of paper birch in the winter, if they were to eat only paper birch, they may starve.

Although white-tailed deer consider birch a “secondary-choice food,” it is an important dietary component. In Minnesota, white-tailed deer eat considerable amounts of paper birch leaves in the fall. Snowshoe hares browse paper birch seedlings, and grouse eat the buds.

Porcupines and beavers feed on the inner bark. The seeds of paper birch are an important part of the diet of many birds and small mammals, including chickadees, redpolls, voles, and ruffed grouse. Yellow bellied sapsuckers drill holes in the bark of paper birch to get at the sap; this is one of their favorite trees for feeding on.
As a species, Birches are commonly cultivated as fast-growing, graceful trees with ornamental bark.

The wood of Betula pendulas Roth. Is light and an excellent thermal insulator, so is used for the inside of saunas in Finland. The wood of Betula alleghaniensis is use for furniture, paneling, and plywood in North America.

Birch sap, collected in spring when it pours from the tree, can be used to make beer. Various species have been used medicinally, and Betula lenta was used as a source of oil of wintergreen, or methyl salicylate; American Indians used it to treat many ailments. Betulinic acid from the bark is reported to trigger cell death in melanomas in culture.

The bark of B papyrifera Marsh. Is waterproof and used for birch-bark canoes by American Indians, as well as for roofing in some parts of the world. Several species were used as paper, including Betula utilis, which has been found in the form of 1800-year-old Buddhist manuscripts in Afghanistan.

“White Birch” Wikipedia
“Betula” from “The Botanical Garden I: Trees and Shrubs,” By Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, 2002 p123

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red Maple Flowers

This maple tree is one of the first plants to flower in spring.

Pam and I ambled around the Arboretum for our Easter 2023 outing.

Click Me for “Finger Lakes Memories” my online gallery.

All photography using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone.

Acer rubrum is one of the most abundant and widespread trees in eastern North America. It can be found from the south of Newfoundland, through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Quebec to the southwest west of Ontario, extreme southeastern Manitoba and northern Minnesota; southward through Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas in its western range; and east to Florida. It has the largest continuous range along the North American Atlantic Coast of any tree that occurs in Florida. In total it ranges 2,600 km (1,600 mi) from north to south. The species is native to all regions of the United States east of the 95th meridian. The tree’s range ends where the −40 °C (−40 °F) mean minimum isotherm begins, namely in southeastern Canada. A. rubrum is not present in most of the Prairie Peninsula of the northern Midwest (although it is found in Ohio), the coastal prairie in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas and the swamp prairie of the Florida Everglades. Red maple’s western range stops with the Great Plains where conditions become too dry for it. The absence of red maple from the Prairie Peninsula is most likely due to the tree’s poor tolerance of wildfires. Red maple is most abundant in the Northeastern US, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northeastern Wisconsin, and is rare in the extreme west of its range and in the Southeastern US.

On the arboretum northeast side is a collection of native maples, this Red Maple is represented caught our eye.

These metal tags are excellent signposts hanging from the branches on coated wire. Red maple’s maximum lifespan is 150 years, but most live less than 100 years. The tree’s thin bark is easily damaged from ice and storms, animals, and when used in landscaping, being struck by flying debris from lawn mowers, allowing fungi to penetrate and cause heart rot.[8] Its ability to thrive in many habitats is largely due to its ability to produce roots to suit its site from a young age. In wet locations, red maple seedlings produce short taproots with long, well-developed lateral roots; while on dry sites, they develop long taproots with significantly shorter laterals. The roots are primarily horizontal, however, forming in the upper 25 cm (9.8 in) of the ground. Mature trees have woody roots up to 25 m (82 ft) long. They are very tolerant of flooding, with one study showing that 60 days of flooding caused no leaf damage. At the same time, they are tolerant of drought due to their ability to stop growing under dry conditions by then producing a second-growth flush when conditions later improve, even if growth has stopped for 2 weeks.

Acer rubrum is one of the first plants to flower in spring. A crop of seeds is generally produced every year with a bumper crop often occurring every second year. A single tree between 5 and 20 cm (2.0 and 7.9 in) in diameter can produce between 12,000 and 91,000 seeds in a season. A tree 30 cm (0.98 ft) in diameter was shown to produce nearly a million seeds. Red maple produces one of the smallest seeds of any of the maples. Fertilization has also been shown to significantly increase the seed yield for up to two years after application. The flowers are generally unisexual, with male and female flowers appearing in separate sessile clusters, though they are sometimes also bisexual. These pistillate (female) flowers have one pistil formed from two fused carpels with a glabrous superior ovary and two long styles that protrude beyond the perianth. These flowers were formed on the tree labeled “Frank’s Red.”

These staminate (male) flowers are sessile (grow direct from tip of branch without a stalk) containing between 4 and 12 stamens, often with 8. These seem to have 12 stamens.

The above flowers were formed on a “Schlesinger I” Red Maple Tree (see following lable).

Reference: “Red Maple” Wikipedia
Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Sandwiched In

Eight Photographs of Five Flowers

After spreading 15,000 square feet of crabcrass/fertilizer and before attending a frigid first baseball game of a grandson, I capture eight photographs of five different flowers from our home.

More about the Magnolia, from Wikipedia: The name Magnolia first appeared in 1703 in the Genera of Charles Plumier (1646–1704), for a flowering tree from the island of Martinique (talauma). It was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol.

More about the Hydrangea, from Wikipedia: Hydrangea is derived from Greek and means ‘water vessel’ (from ὕδωρ húdōr “water” + ἄγγος ángos or αγγεῖον angeîon “vessel”), in reference to the shape of its seed capsules.

More about these Quince, from Wikipedia: Although all quince species have flowers, gardeners in the West often refer to these species as “flowering quince”, since Chaenomeles are grown ornamentally for their flowers, not for their fruits.

More about Forsythia, from Wikipedia: The genus is named after William Forsyth (1737–1804), a Scottish botanist who was a royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.

More about Forsythia, from Wikipedia: Narcissus is a genus of predominantly spring flowering perennial plants of the amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae. Various common names including daffodil, narcissus, and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus. Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white and yellow (also orange or pink in garden varieties), with either uniform or contrasting colored tepals and corona.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Fair Weather View

Cumulus Clouds and Forsythia

I read the New York Times on our porch on a spring Sunday afternoon, taking a moment to capture these fair weather cumulus clouds. Visible are Ithaca’s East Hill, downtown, and a forsythia bush in flower.

More about the flowers, from Wikipedia: Forsythias are popular early spring flowering shrubs in gardens and parks, especially during Eastertide; Forsythias are nicknamed the “Easter Tree”, the symbol of the coming spring.

More about this view, from Wikipedia: Cumulus clouds can form in lines stretching over 480 kilometers (300 mi) long called cloud streets. These cloud streets cover vast areas and may be broken or continuous. They form when wind shear causes horizontal circulation in the atmosphere, producing the long, tubular cloud streets. They generally form during high-pressure systems, such as after a cold front.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved