Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Silhouette

A Chinese Scholartree (Styphnolobium japonicum), methinks, near 5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn.

I can't be on positive, but I think the tree shadow photographed above is from a Chinese Scholartree (Styphnolobium japonicum) in late afternoon light. I walked past the building on my way shopping and only stopped for a few seconds to snap the picture. I did see some characteristic seedpods dangling from the tree, which are slightly visible in the shadow.

The silhouette looks very similar to the one depicted in the New York City Trees book, which was my first introduction to tree identification. One of the book's identification features is a tiny tree silhouette, which pictures each species in winter as it would be growing in the open without competition. Edward Sibley Barnard's description of the Chinese Scholartree silhouette is as follows; "the trunk divides into several large ascending branches, creating a rounded open canopy". That sounds about right to me for the image above. Learning to recognize a tree's silhouette in winter is just another way to get to know and appreciate a plant. I can always go back to 5th Avenue in the spring to see the leaves or in mid to late summer when this tree flowers to see if I'm right.

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