The fall foliage gives a vine maple tree a vibrant glow in the shadowy depths of the ancient forest. I encountered this lovely contrast of color while hiking through the Opal Creek Wilderness in the evening.
Perhaps you know them as “helicopter seeds” or “whirlybirds”, but samaras are the winged fruits of ash, elm, or maple trees. Vine maples (Acer circinatum) are common trees in the park with samaras. Samaras start green, but can become yellow or bright red just like vine maple leaves. Do you enjoy watching samaras twirling through the air? Their wing-like shape helps the tree’s seeds spread widely.
NPS Photo of samaras on vine maple in front of the Longmire Administration Building, 9/26/17. Two sets of double-winged seeds just starting to turn red hang from a branch with maple leaves, in front of a rock and wood building. ~kl
Time to bring an end to my long hiatus from Tumblr. I have a huge backlog of photos to work through, but I figure why not start with a few shots of the vibrant autumn colors that we enjoyed a few months ago here in the Pacific Northwest. Here are a couple shots that I took in the Opal Creek Wilderness earlier this Fall. Most of the colorful fall foliage belongs to vine maples (Acer Circinatum) which are a common under story plant in the forests on the slopes of the western Cascades. The lower photo shows the massive trunk of an ancient western red cedar (Thuja Plicata). More ancient forest photos will be posted soon!
Sure, you might just say this tree has “yellow” fall foliage, but yellow seems too drab a description for this glowing color. Instead, this tree might be citrine: golden yellow with perhaps a tint of green, like a perfect lemon-yellow. There is some debate that the color is actually luteous: gold-yellow with a tinge of red. Perhaps there’s also a bit of ochre… What colors do you see?
NPS photo, 10/24/17. Sunlight shines through leaves of maple trees in front of a wood building. ~kl
Vine maples fill the understory of Mount Rainier’s forests. In fall their leaves turn bright red and orange, but their bright green spring leaves can be just as eye catching. Here are a few moments of spring vine maples, filmed around the Grove of the Patriarchs.
NPS Video. Description: Bright green vine maple leaves in contrast to a darker forest canopy and tree trunks. A clear blue river passes beneath a vine maple branch. ~kl
Stumps and Trunks/ Public Lands/ Exploration/ Throwback
A throwback to some autumn explorations in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. These are part of an ongoing series of Stumps and Trunks, trees here in the Northwest have so much character. I was especially entranced with the way the vine maple added color and contrast to the trunks of conifers on Mt. Adams.