An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Archive for March 8, 2010

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

Here I’ll be sharing some photographs I’ve recently taken as well as some of my favorites 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.

YELLOW BIRCH CATKINS

The flowers, and thus the seeds, of yellow birch are arranged in a pendant cluster about an inch long which is referred to as a catkin.  Male and female flowers are on separate catkins. When pollinated, the female flowers develop seeds, each of which is located on a scale in the catkin.  Over the winter the catkins disintegrate, dispersing both seeds and scales. If you see what look like little fleurs-de-lis lying on the snow, these are the scales. You can identify the species of birch from the shape of its scales. The tiny, round fruits of birches are called nutlets, and these, too, are scattered over the surface of the snow.  In the photograph on the right, a yellow birch scale is on the left, and a seed, or nutlet, is on the right.