Spring finds the Western Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) brightened with a mass of white blooms; late summer festoons it with bunches of brilliant red berries and winter - though this season finds it stripped of its foliage, flowers and fruit by which it is so easily recognized - identifies it with characters nearly as conspicuous for ready identification. The leaves of the Dogwood are opposite upon the branches. So the leaf scars must also be opposite and in that respect it differs from those trees and shrubs described in the last issue of "Nature Notes". In addition, these leaf scars are raised during the first winter, at least, later falling or sluffing off from the branches. Pull a Dogwood twig from one of these trees and press these raised leaf scars with your thumb nail - they can be easily stripped from the branch. In the accompanying sketch the raised leaf scars are shown. Likewise the markings of past leaf scars are indicated lower on the branch and you will notice, too, that the stipule scars join to encircle the twig. Note also the buds; how they are stalked and enclosed by two valvate scales.
And if you are puzzled over what a "valvate" scale is observe the buds of the Maple, also sketched on this page. Presenting quite a different appearance the bud scales of the Maple overlap one another like the shingles on a roof.
The Maple also has opposite leaves and opposite leaf scars, but you will notice that the stipule scars are absent. The leaf scars are U-shaped and are possessed, generally, of three markings indicative of the position of the vascular bundles which conveyed nutriment from the body of the tree to the leaves during the spring and summer.
One of the most common shrubs in Mt. Rainier National Park is the White Rhododendron, relative of our own state flower which is so famous - and justly so, for is rich beauty. The White Rhododendron is not as conspicuous as its more favored relative in the matter of floral beauty however though eagerly sought after as a means of outdoor beautification about Park homes -- for not plant is permitted in this area that is not native to the region. The leaf scars are alternate and shield shaped with one vascular bundle trace and the buds are small. Often one finds numerous buds clustered near the upper portion of the previous season's growth and this accounts for the cluster of new branches at the beginning of each growth season. But one may readily identify this shrub even at this season when the snow lies deep over the mountainsides by the five valved capsules that often persist upon the branches.
Mountain Ash really is a misnomer for this well known shrub of the park - other species of which attain tree size at lower altitudes where the climate is less rigorous - is a member of the rose or apple family. This shrub is conspicuous because of its clusters of red or orange berries in the late summer and early fall but it may be readily recognized during the winter and early spring by characters of the season. One thing that is striking is the presence of large lenticels in the bark of the twigs. The leaf scars are alternate, crescent shaped and raised and there are no stipule scars. The buds are quite large - particularly the terminal bud - and are protected by several overlapping scales.
Most anyone in the Pacific Northwest is acquainted with the Hazelbush which is so abundant here. It, too, may be recognized easily if one knows what to look for in the way of good characters. The slender, zig-zag twigs are possessed of small roundish buds enclosed by numerous overlapping scales. The leaf scars are alternate and the stipule scars are elongated. One may also see the ashen catkins - particularly at certain seasons - hanging from the branches which serves as a ready means of identification too.
Your trees and shrubs - those in your local woodlands, in your city parks or along your streets - can be as interesting during the winter as they are in the more favored summer season if you will but take the time to get acquainted with them. Try it and see for yourself!
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