Mid-August in Eliza Howell Park: Signs of Seasonal Change

For the last several weeks, much of my attention during nature walks in Eliza Howell Park has been on the summer meadow wildflowers and the insects they attract.

This week that began to change, as I became more aware of the fact that the summer is moving toward a close.

These images, from my most recent walks, remind me that the transition to Fall is, without a doubt, happening now.

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The Virginia Creeper leaves are beginning to turn and the berries have reached their full size. Before long, I will be admiring the lovely blue-colored ripe berries on red stems.

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I think of Goldenrod as the distinctive flower of September, though these are aleady blooming. Most of the Goldenrod varieties found in Eliza Howell are only a couple weeks behind these, budding to flower soon.

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The wild Black Cherry trees are filled with fruit that is red on the way to  black. Dozens of birds, especially Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, are feasting on this year’s bumper crop.

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The seedpods are forming on Common Milkweed plants. Though it will be some time yet before the pods mature and open to let the seeds be scattered in the wind, the process is well on its way.

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In late summer, a few scattered webs of the Fall Webworm Moth can be found on the ends of tree branches. The caterpillars spin the web to protect themselves as they eat leaves. As the “Fall” name suggests, these webs are another sign of seasonal change.

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Within the thick foliage of Sugar Maple trees, the samaras — the winged nuts/seeds — are now evident. While some maples drop their seeds in the Spring, Sugar Maples are getting ready for their Fall dispersal.

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Checking some other trees to assess how the Fall nuts are progressing, I note varying but clearly advancing stages of developnent in (from top left clockwise) Walnut, Chestnut, Hickory, and Oak.

This is August, but there are many signs of September in my favorite park in Detroit.

 

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