After having two consecutive nights of heavy frost, I’m still waiting to see that glorious flush of colour in our area, but judging by the number of leaves that are floating down on this morning’s cool breeze, I fear this cold snap has merely signalled the shedding of leaves before they’ve had a chance to don their Autumn finery.
So while I keep an eye on the local colour (particularly for Dave’s Fall Colour Project) I thought I’d share some unexpectedly vibrant autumn hues that were spotted last weekend — the tamaracks at Three Mile Brook, about a half hour drive from town. While one doesn’t normally think of coniferous trees as presenting much in the way of fall colour, these deciduous softwoods are the exception.
Tamaracks (Larix laricina) are the only conifers that shed all their needles annually. It’s a medium sized tree that can grow to a height of 20m in the right conditions. They thrive in a boggy habitats in full sunlight. They are usually found in cold, wet, poorly-drained sites, often mixed with black spruce and are rarely found in pure stands. Obviously, judging by this outstanding show of colour, the Three Mile Brook habitat offers perfect conditions.
Of interest, First Nations peoples have used this tree for medicinal purposes, tea, canoe-making, etc. As well, the rotting wood was used to smoke fish and hides, and the roots used to create beautiful bird sculptures.
We typically look to the hardwoods for fall colour: maples, oaks, birches, poplars. But, it doesn’t get much prettier than this, even on a dull day.