Outdoors Magazine

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Posted on the 13 June 2018 by Hollis

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Boxelder (Acer negundo) in nook formed by warehouse walls.

The weekend came and went. Weekends are when I usually visit the boxelder I’m following—when no one is working at the warehouse where it grows. But last weekend was really windy, from dawn to dusk. So I waited for a calm evening, and after everyone had left for the day. Finally last night the wind died down at about 8 pm. After dressing for mosquitos, I walked over during the golden hour before sunset, when the sun’s rays pass through more atmosphere and the light is warmer, softer. The smoke plume from a forest fire southwest of town added to the effect.

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Smoke plume from Badger Creek Fire.

The boxelder has changed dramatically since my last visit. A month ago, there were no leaves at all, and flower buds were opening on just one branchlet. Now all that’s left of the flowers are dead shriveled stamens (this is a male tree). Now it’s all about leaves—and leaflets, the boxelder’s leaves being compound.
Boxelder & Dock at Sunset
Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Dangling remains of male flowers.

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Boxelder's compound leaves are unusual for its genus—Acer (maples).

There were other changes. Along the base of the warehouse wall, sand dock, Rumex venosus, is in its full glory. Last month it sported flower buds. Now the achenes (seeds) have fully matured, and each is enclosed in inner tepals (undifferentiated petals) which have enlarged, developed reticulate veins, and turned bright pink … or rather a warm rose color in the golden light.

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Reticulate veins visible to right of mid photo.

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

There are now Canada thistles (Cirsium arvense) mixed in with the dock

Walking home, I saw a shaded patch of dock with the colors I'm used to:
Boxelder & Dock at Sunset
Boxelder & Dock at Sunset
Boxelder & Dock at Sunset

Boxelder & Dock at Sunset
This is my contribution to the June virtual gathering of tree followers, kindly hosted by The SquirrelbasketTree-following is fun! Consider joining us. More info here

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