Seuss Trees

seuss-trees

Seuss Trees, photo by Carolyn Gallo

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.
-Dr. Seuss

Fitting photo from southeast Michigan as we head into a weekend where temps are expected to climb into the 50s and not drop below freezing in Detroit until January 27th!

View Carolyn’s photo on Instagramfollow her @carolynchip and keep up with her photos on her 500px.

Snow Boys

snow-boys-tom-hughes-photo

Snow Boys, photo by Tom Hughes Photo

Tom says they were out playing in the first big snow of the year. View his photo bigger and see more in his Black & White slideshow.

More black & white photography on Michigan in Pictures.

The science behind the magic: Fall color explained

yellow-glory-by-scottie

Untitled, photo by Scottie

The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves from the United States National Arboretum is such an excellent explanation of the science behind the magic of Michigan’s fall color show that I try and share it every year:

The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.

During the growing season, chlorophyll is replaced constantly in the leaves. Chlorophyll breaks down with exposure to light in the same way that colored paper fades in sunlight. The leaves must manufacture new chlorophyll to replace chlorophyll that is lost in this way. In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.

This is when autumn colors are revealed. Chlorophyll normally masks the yellow pigments known as xanthophylls and the orange pigments called carotenoids — both then become visible when the green chlorophyll is gone. These colors are present in the leaf throughout the growing season. Red and purple pigments come from anthocyanins. In the fall anthocyanins are manufactured from the sugars that are trapped in the leaf. In most plants anthocyanins are typically not present during the growing season.

As autumn progresses, the cells in the abscission layer become more dry and corky. The connections between cells become weakened, and the leaves break off with time. Many trees and shrubs lose their leaves when they are still very colorful. Some plants retain a great deal of their foliage through much of the winter, but the leaves do not retain their color for long. Like chlorophyll, the other pigments eventually break down in light or when they are frozen. The only pigments that remain are tannins, which are brown.

The explain that because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at more or less the same time every year and are not overly dependent on temperature, rainfall or other factors, other than the fact that weather can shorten or prolong the show by stripping leaves from trees.

Click through to the US Arboretum for more and also see Fall & Fuit from the Science of Color!

View Scotties’ photo bigger and see more in his Infrared slideshow.

Tons more fall photos on Michigan in Pictures!

Tragic Tree Tuesday: Beech Scale & Beech Bark Disease

Twined Trees at Treat Farm

Twined Trees at Treat Farm, photo by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
~William Shakespeare

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore shared this photo from their Tweddle/Treat Farm property saying:

The two hugging trees on the trail to Treat Farm share a similar fate to the star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. The beech scale brings a fungus that is deadly like a poison, and kills off the American beech trees. The Emerald Ash Borers pierce the hearts of the ash trees to take the nutrients.

Invasive species have made their way to the fair Lakeshore of Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can help prevent the spread by purchasing local firewood, and burning it within the local area.

Beech Scale and Beech Bark DiseaseI’ve written about the Emerald Ash Borer on Michigan in Pictures, so here’s a bit about beech scale & beech bark disease from MSU:

Beech bark disease is one of the latest exotic pest problems to plague Michigan forests. Beech bark disease refers to a complex that consists of a sap-feeding scale insect and at least two species of Nectria fungi. Beech bark disease begins when American beech (Fagus grandifolia) becomes infested with beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga Lind) (=Cryptococcus fagi Baer.). The tiny scale insects, found on the tree trunk and branches, feed on sap in the inner bark. White wax covers the bodies of the scales.

When trees are heavily infested, they appear to be covered by white wool. Minute wounds and injuries caused by the scale insects eventually enable the Nectria fungus to enter the tree. Nectria kills areas of woody tissue, sometimes creating cankers on the tree stem and large branches. If enough tissue is killed, the tree will be girdled and die. Other trees may linger for several years, eventually succumbing to Nectria or other pathogens. Some infected trees will break off in heavy winds — a condition called “beech snap.” Dense thickets of root sprouts are common after trees die or break.

Read on for lots and also see Beech Bark Disease from the National Forest Service where I got these photos.

View the photo bigger on their Facebook page and learn all about the Lakeshore from their website.

The Ghost Forest in Silver Lake Dunes

Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest, photo by Charles Bohnam

The Silver Lake State Park page at Michigan Trail Maps says in part:

Not all of Michigan’s great hikes are trails. This trek is a journey through Silver Lake State Park’s trailless backcountry, a mile-wide strip of dunes between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. There’s not another hike like this in Michigan or even the Midwest because no other stretch of dunes are so barren.

Perched on a plateau and rising more than 100 feet high above Silver Lake, the heart of these dunes are totally devoid of any vegetation, even dune grass. The only thing besides sand are the stumps and trunks of ghost forests, ancient trees that the migrating dunes had buried and killed. Almost half of the hike is in this Sahara Desert-like terrain, the other half is spent strolling a stretch of Lake Michigan that is free of cottages and frozen custard stands.

A rare hike indeed.

View Charles’ photo background bigilicious and see more in his slideshow.

More dunes and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow, photo by Owen Weber

Perfect title!

I feel like I didn’t get a chance to say farewell to fall, so I’ll do it this week. The first is from my backyard, on the trail that leads to the Empire Bluffs in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

View the photo bigger, see more in Owen’s Michigan slideshow. and also check out his website at owenweberphotography.com to view & purchase prints.

More fall color on Michigan in Pictures.

Under An Autumn Sunbeam: Fall Color Explained

Fall Color 2015 in Michigan

Under An Autumn Sunbeam, photo by Owen Weber

As we wait for the fall color season in Michigan to kick off, here’s a look back to last October and my annual rework of one of the most popular posts on Michigan in Pictures, the Science of Fall Color. If you already know the words you can sing along – have a great weekend folks!

The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves from the United States National Arboretum says (in part):

Many think that cool weather or frost cause the leaves to change color. While temperature may dictate the color and its intensity, it is only one of many environmental factors that play a part in painting deciduous woodlands in glorious fall colors.

…The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.

During the growing season, chlorophyll is replaced constantly in the leaves. Chlorophyll breaks down with exposure to light in the same way that colored paper fades in sunlight. The leaves must manufacture new chlorophyll to replace chlorophyll that is lost in this way. In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.

This is when autumn colors are revealed. Chlorophyll normally masks the yellow pigments known as xanthophylls and the orange pigments called carotenoids — both then become visible when the green chlorophyll is gone. These colors are present in the leaf throughout the growing season. Red and purple pigments come from anthocyanins. In the fall anthocyanins are manufactured from the sugars that are trapped in the leaf. In most plants anthocyanins are typically not present during the growing season.

As autumn progresses, the cells in the abscission layer become more dry and corky. The connections between cells become weakened, and the leaves break off with time. Many trees and shrubs lose their leaves when they are still very colorful. Some plants retain a great deal of their foliage through much of the winter, but the leaves do not retain their color for long. Like chlorophyll, the other pigments eventually break down in light or when they are frozen. The only pigments that remain are tannins, which are brown.

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture greatly influence the quality of the fall foliage display. Abundant sunlight and low temperatures after the time the abscission layer forms cause the chlorophyll to be destroyed more rapidly. Cool temperatures, particularly at night, combined with abundant sunlight, promote the formation of more anthocyanins. Freezing conditions destroy the machinery responsible for manufacturing anthocyanins, so early frost means an early end to colorful foliage. Drought stress during the growing season can sometimes trigger the early formation of the abscission layer, and leaves may drop before they have a chance to develop fall coloration. A growing season with ample moisture that is followed by a rather dry, cool, sunny autumn that is marked by warm days and cool but frostless nights provides the best weather conditions for development of the brightest fall colors. Lack of wind and rain in the autumn prolongs the display; wind or heavy rain may cause the leaves to be lost before they develop their full color potential.

OK, sorry to share a novel with you. Might have to change the name of the blog to “Michigan in a Whole Bunch of Words with a Picture.”

Owen took this last October in Glen Arbor. View it bigger and see more in his Michigan slideshow.

PS: I have to think that it doesn’t look the same there this year due to the crazy storm they are still recovering from.

Tons more fall photos on Michigan in Pictures.