Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Nice Surprise

Even in the winter, one can have a gardening surprise!

Rosie and I were out for a 'walk', or should I say, 'slog' the other day, wading through snow that was up over my knees and her head. Poor dog, the only way she could get ahead was by making a series of small leaps. It worked but she got quite tired. Still, it has been very cold and we've been a bit cooped up and we both wanted to be out so we kept going.

Eventually we got to the top of the ridge overlooking the marsh. I stopped for a brief rest and noticed a small branch from a conifer blown down and resting on top of the snow.
red spruce twig and rosie
That's Rosie  photo-bombing my picture of the twig! She was finding it pretty hard going and was following me very closely. The twig interested me because the cones seemed very small. I picked it up and carried it home. Here's a closer look at the twig with the cones:

red spruce cones on twig
 I looked it up in my Trees In Canada (Farrar, 2006), and it turns out to be Red Spruce, Picea rubens. The book describes it as 'uncommon, but present' for my area. Of course it is hard to interpret the distribution map very closely, but I know it's uncommon here because I've never seen such small cones before. I have a lot of White Spruce, Picea glauca, but their cones are always between 2" and 4" long. These are mostly less than 1". Also the needles on White Spruce seem a bit longer, darker green, and less curved. I don't think this can be Black Spruce, Picea mariana because that is mostly found right in swamps or other damp areas, and this tree is growing on a rocky slope quite a bit above the marsh.

The cones are really cute:
cones picea rubens
I'm going to plant some of the seeds and see if I can grow a few Red Spruce trees.

And I'm going to get my snowshoes out!