Outdoors Magazine

My Boxelder Finally Accepts the Inevitable …

Posted on the 11 November 2018 by Hollis

My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …

Standard approach photo—boxelder on left, in nook formed by warehouse walls.

National Weather Service Observed Weather for Laramie, Wyoming; November 10, 2018, 9:53 AM (MDT):  partly cloudy; 36º F; humidity 31%; winds westerly, 28 mph with gusts to 38 mph.
Conditions were not ideal for plant photography, but I had no choice. There would be no other opportunities to visit the boxelder I’m following if I wanted to post my report before the deadline. So off we went.
Even from a distance, the change was obvious. A month ago, the boxelder still was covered in green leaves, even though most other trees had turned color or were bare. Now the boxelder is bare too, except for a few memories.
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …

My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …

Leaf still hanging on (boxelder leaves are compound).

My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …

Amazingly persistent spring flowers; note anthers at ends of dangling filaments (male tree).

I saw many more remnant petioles (visible below), which I mentioned last month. I had no idea that boxelders drop leaf blades but not petioles, or at least not yet. Do maples do this? (both boxelder and maples are in the genus Acer) Any other plants, do you know?
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …
Abundant buds promise that spring will come. Though I never really doubt that it will, I still find comfort in buds.

My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …

Flower and leaf buds.

A tumbleweed had lodged in branches near the base of the tree (straw-colored, mid-photo below). This was no surprise. The field across the river to the west, part of the Territorial Prison tourist attraction, was cleared of vegetation a few years ago, I have no idea why. Now it’s perfect habitat for tumbleweeds, and every year around this time, they cut loose and head into town, dropping seeds as they go. This one is kochia (Kochia scoparia), the most common of our tumbleweeds.
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …
The Canada thistles along the base of the warehouse wall were still green but seriously wilted. I think they're done for. This is Cirsium arvense, one of the most noxious of our noxious weeds.
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …
Next I checked on the little lilac bush that I discovered last month in the field just west of the warehouse. When the surrounding railroad ties, palettes and debris were removed recently, the cleanup crew left it standing—so nice, and I smile whenever I see it. Now it too is bare of leaves. But there are plenty of promising buds.
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …
A small building used to stand in this field; perhaps that explains the lilac bush. I looked through my photos, and found one from April 2014 with the building. Sure enough, it stood in the area of the little lilac. Whitman’s lilac came to mind—the one that last in a dooryard bloomed—but I think their circumstances differ. This lilac has survived in the absence of a dooryard, and hopefully there's more blooming ahead!
My boxelder finally accepts the inevitable …


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