An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Archive for March 2, 2010

Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.

EASTERN HEMLOCK CONES

Having snow on the ground allows us to see the amount of organic debris that accumulates on the forest floor every day. After the past two days’ wind, the snow is now littered with thousands of tips of last year’s hemlock branches. With most of the leaves gone from the fallen branches, close examination reveals not only the female seed cones of last year that are still attached, but also the tiny, globular male pollen cones. (In this photograph, seed cones are larger and scaled, male cones look like little tufts along the sides of the branches.) Eastern hemlock is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers in the spring. At that time the male flowers, or catkins, are light yellow and contain masses of light, fluffy pollen which the wind disperses. The pale green female flowers, or cones, if pollinated, will produce seeds. As is evident on the branches littering the forest floor today, both structures persist long after their pollen and seeds have been dispersed.