Thursday, January 1, 2015

Time Capsule: Mesa Trail--Sept. 14, 2009

Liatris punctata in tall grass on the Mesa Trail
It may be the first of a new year...but nature is eternal, and so is the process of labeling old lots if images. I love revisiting favorite haunts--few I love more than the Mesa Trail--a wonderful hike from near the house I grew up and lived in for a quarter century to the next town south (Eldorado Springs). I hiked this trail throughout my youth, and re-hike it every few years. This trip was special--it was the first time I took my kids on the trail. It was mid September--the blazing star was glorious in the grass.

Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) under Corylus cornuta
There are quite a few kinds of ferns on the mountain, but the mail fern is my favorite of all--quite  abundant in a few shady spots. One of the many interesting local links with the European flora.

Goldenrod goldenrodding
I could look up which species. But then again, so can you!

Clusterheaded goldenrod (Solidago rigida) in tallgrass
This one I didn't need to look up: I've grown it for years--the cluster headed Great Plains' goldenrod that makes a wonderful ornamental (don't look for it in your local garden center--it's rarely sold despite its abundance across the Midwest, and non-weedy tendencies).

Husky Sorbus sp.
At the time I just assumed the huge Rowan between Green and Bear Mountain was just the lowest altitude record for our native Sorbus scopulina. I'm now wondering if it isn't just S. aucuparia planted by birds from the many in the city nearby.

Sorbus sp.
If it is our native-we should certainly get seed and grow it: it's several thousand feet lower in altitude than most of its congeners in the state!

Sorbus sp.
It was particularly dazzling that day: at Denver Botanic Gardens, our S. scopulina is stripped by birds within days of ripening--whereas the European species keeps is berries all winter until the Cedar Waxwings clean them up in the spring. They must taste different to the birds--and the fact these are persisting is perhaps an indicator of their exoticism?

Sorbus sp.
Perhaps one of you can distinguish from this closeup? If so, let me know and I'll give you credit!

Pinus ponderosa
I finish with this ponderous art shot: don't try and read too much meaning into it? Is it a glimpse of youth from old age, or a parable of the new year rising from the old? Is it a symbol of life rising from the dead? Or is it just a younger tree glimpsed through the arch of one that died some time ago? I go with the latter! Happy New Year!


  1. From simply looking at internet photos, I think your Sorbus is S. aucuparia. I do not know what features readily distinguish these two species. It is merely that the S. scopulina internet photos all show more luster to the leaves than the S. acucparia photos.

    Your goldenrod is a tough one to identify. My best guess does not seem quite right. I am guessing it is a lanky (too much shade?) specimen of Solidago speciosa.


  2. I hadn't tried to key the Solidago (we have a spate of them), but I fear you're right about the Sorbus. What is intriguing, however, is that if it is the European species it has to be quite xeric--it's growing on an exposed scree and I don't think there was water nearby--so it has to be growing on natural rainfall--which is only about 16" a year there. So it's a xeric tree! Sorbus scopulina is almost always found next to streams in my experience, at much higher latitudes. Will have to make a specimen to be sure. Oh well...

  3. Berries look too red and juicy to be S. scopulina... Harlequin's sells Solidago rigida, by the way.


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