Marcescent Oak Leaves

During walks in the park during the very cold first week of January 2018, I found my attention drawn to trees that still retain their leaves despite the fact that we are deep into winter.

It happens every year, the realization that there are a number of trees in Eliza Howell Park that retain their leaves long after they turn brown and long after the leaves of other deciduous trees have fallen. One obviously does not need to know the scientific term for the phenomenon of withering but not falling off (marcescence) to observe the reality every winter.

Most of the trees in the park that retain their leaves are oak trees. This winter there are a few maples near the entrance to the park that have some withered leaves in early January, but it is an every year occurrence to find leaves hanging on oak trees far into winter.


Leaf retention typically occurs in smaller younger trees. Large, mature oaks of the same species drop their leaves earlier.

As reflected in the next two pictures, January leaves can be found on trees of more than one oak species.



A good place to find several leaf-retaining oak trees is inside the road loop, about half round from the Fenkell entrance.













Marcescent leaves may gradually be dropped (blown off) during the winter or may hang on till spring. It might  be interesting for me to choose a tree or two this year to monitor and note when the leaves are finally down.






VIEW FROM THE FOOTBRIDGE: October – December, 2017

The footbridge over the Rouge River (Main branch) is part of my regular walk in the park. During 2017, I got into the habit of taking a quick picture each time of the view from the footbridge, facing upriver. The pictures, in addition to being enjoyable views, help to refresh my memory on the timing of the seasonal changes in the park.

As a result of the cold spell in late December 2017, the river surface was frozen and snow covered by the end of the year.


December 30, 2017

The following pictures cover the last three months of the calendar year, in roughly 2-week intervals.

In Eliza Howell, most of the trees remain green in early October and slowly begin to change during the month.


October 1, 2017


October 16, 2017


October 31, 2017

The autumn look fully arrives in November, the month of the big leaf drop.  


November 14, 2017


November 30, 2017

The first snows usually come in December, as they did in 2017.


December 12, 2017

The freezing over of the running water in December, as happened this year, is quite unusual.


December 28, 2017

I started taking frequent pictures from this viewpoint only in the middle of 2017. My hope is to document all 12 months this way in 2018.