Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Autumn colour, and Sassafras seeds

This long balmy autumn is drawing to a close. But it has given us some remarkable sights.

Although not exactly spectacular, this is at least "impressive". I cannot begin to calculate the vast number of seeds of the Sassafras trees (Doryphora sassafras) which are lying on the ground here. As I have mentioned, in the context of house painting and wind, these seeds have been flying around my house for several weeks now. Some have simply dropped from the trees, and are lying here, awaiting a good rain storm to flatten them down to the ground. Without that soil contact they have close to zero chance of germination.
Now if Peter Garrett had seen these seeds lying here, he might have thought of using them as insulation in house roofs. They certainly look fluffy enough to do that job.
I just jammed my boot in amongst the seeds,
to show their depth.
To give you a better idea of the numbers of seeds involved in just those few images, here is a close up of a single intact Sassafras seed. It is on a blue woollen jumper, so the coarse knitting pattern will give you some idea of scale. The seed itself is about the size of a match-head, and the hairy appendages are somewhere between a 5 cent coin and a 10 cent coin in area (if flattened). The seed appendages are the method of dispersal, for the plant, when it seeds. The seeds catch the wind very successfully, when the seed capsules on the tree open, or when the entire seed capsule falls to the ground. Obviously they fly best when caught by the wind from high in a Sassafras tree. They have been floating around everywhere at my place for the last three weeks now. There is hardly anywhere which is free of these intrusive flying seeds.

Cool climate gardeners tend to associate autumn with coloured leaves. My Ornamental Pistachio, Pistacio sinensis, was just reaching its peak last week when the wind blew all its leaves away.

My neighbours tree has been looking great,
when glimpsed through evergreen trees.And my own Acer rubrum "October Glory" is looking fine, growing on the west side of the house, to show the sunlight through the leaves. It is one of Fleming's Nurseries "Lipstick range" of colourful autumn trees.
These are the brightest leaves I have at present. Not as colourful as plants I was familiar with in Canberra, but the trade-off is that biting cold weather which helps produce the bright colours. Frankly, I do not miss severe frosts.


mick said...

Beautiful autumn color! It's certainly seldom seen up my way. The sassafras seeds are interesting - but do you have a problem with them germinating in other parts of the garden?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
I guessed you would like the autumn colours.
Sassafras are self-limiting (they would have to be. or else they would be weeds like Scotch Thistles). They only germinate successfully in deep shade, under other trees. If they dry out, the seedlings perish.
Several years ago, I collected seeds like the ones shown, and germinated them in a "poly box" (fruit box), in potting mix. Quite successful, but they take a long time.

limo hire said...

Lovely autumn colors..just love them.