Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sassafras in full bloom

I snapped this late last night. And I did it much to the puzzlement of Roden Mauger who was returning his truck back to his farm, presumably after taking a load of cattle to agistment somewhere. I was out on the the road, taking photos when suddenly Roden's truck came roaring along. I flashed my phone's LED light in his direction (it is only a very weak beam of light), to make sure he know I was there, and that he knew I knew he was coming (of course I did).

But a photographer on a Robertson street, on a dark night is not what a truck driver expects to find.
Sassafras Tree in full flower.
The white flowers stand out brilliantly at night.
They are much less obvious in daylight.
The Sassafras trees flower heavily some year, but not others. From tracking back, last time we had a really good flowering season for Sassafras, was in July 2009, Prior to that flowering season, the previous "good year" for Sassafras was 2006. So, they seem to flower heavily every 3 or 4 years. Presumably seasonal rainfall is a factor.

After a heavy flowering season these trees produce masses of fluffy seeds, (or hard black seeds with hairs which allow the seeds to blow on the wind). After the July 2009 flowering, the seeds were dispersed heavily in May 2010. The seeds and their fluff formed thick carpets under trees and against fence lines - like a brown snow-drift. That suits the Sassafras, as they like to germinate in the shade of tall trees, and dense shrubbery. I know that, because I have been collecting self-sown Sassafras seedlings from under my Camellia bushes this last week. Presumably these young seedlings are now in their fourth year - at about 150mm high, they're not fast to establish. I saw some other seedlings about knee-height, in a friend's garden today, and presumably they were from the 2006 seeding.

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