Leaves

Leaves

Leaves

On the first day of middle school (in the US this is ages 11-13, grades 6-8), our daughter’s science teacher announced an important assignment would be due at the end of the school year—a collection of 25 natural items. Flowers, leaves, rocks, insects, bones, the choice was up to the student.

I do not remember how our daughter settled on collecting leaves, but in the following months family excursions often included scouting around for an interesting specimen to add to the collection. Each leaf was sealed in a plastic bag and documented with Latin and common names, location and date found, and the name of the person who collected it.

Some of her earliest items collected lost their nice color or crumbled if the bag lost its seal, but by the end of the school year she had built up enough items. The night before the project was due was a long one as I recall. The leaves were laid out on foam board, hand written labels were prepared and applied and the entire collection was covered in a sheet of self-adhesive transparent acetate.

School projects come and go, of course, but now more than 20 years old, this one has survived the test of time. I love this one for its strong design and for the memories it holds. For many years until I retired, it was prominently displayed in my office. Colleagues and visitors frequently remarked on it, sometimes bringing up stories about their own favorite trees. One day my supervisor made good on a promise and brought in a scrapbook that held his own childhood leaf collection.

Over the years the labels on our daughter’s leaf collection became illegible as the permanent black ink used to record the data faded to yellow. By taking macro photographs of the labels I was able to decipher the writing (and for some reason recently I felt compelled to retrieve the identifications). Although not a focus of concern when gathering the leaves originally, it is interesting to note 19 of the 25 belong to native trees.

 

Leaves – Row 1

Row 1 (left to right)
Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found September 9, 1991
Native to the eastern and central United States

Quercus stellata (post oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found October 12, 1991
Native to the eastern and central United States

Quercus alba (white Oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found
Native to eastern and central North America

Quercus nigra (water oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found September 9, 1991
Native to the eastern and south-central United States

Quercus falcata (southern red oak)
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By MLM. Date Found November 29, 1991
Native to the eastern and south-central United States

Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By MLM. Date Found November 29, 1991
non-Native (Japan)
 

Leaves - Row 2

Leaves – Row 2

Row 2 (left to right)

Quercus michauxii (swamp chestnut oak)
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By MLM. Date Found November 24, 1991
Native to bottomlands and wetlands in the eastern and central United States

Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found Unknown
Native of North America, in the eastern and central United States and southeast and south-central Canada.

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)
Found Chapel Hill NC. Collected By DVM. Date Found November 24, 1991
Native to North America in the eastern and central United States and eastern and central Canada.

Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo)
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By MLM. Date Found November 24, 1991
non-Native (China)

Latin Name Unknown (Japanese Lemon)
[yuzu (Citrus ichangensis × C. reticulata]
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found April 22, 1992
non-Native (China and Tibet)

Ilex opaca (American holly)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found Unknown
Native to the eastern and south-central United States

Leaves - Row 3

Leaves – Row 3

Row 3 (left to right)

(top left) Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date April 26, 1992
Native to eastern North America, from southern Maine and southern Ontario west to Iowa, and south to central Florida and eastern Texas

(bottom left) Morus rubra (red mulberry)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date April 23, 1992
Native to eastern and central North America

Liriodendron tulipifera (yellow poplar)
[Tulip poplar]
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date Found April 22, 1992
Native to eastern North America

Maclura pomifera (Osage orange)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date April 29, 1992
Native to Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas

Magnolia stellata (star magnolia)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By PBM. Date April 24, 1992
non-Native (Japan)

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia)
Found [ ] Collected By MLM. Date [ ]
Native to the southeastern United States

Magnolia × soulangeana (saucer magnolia)
Found St. Pauls, NC. Collected By Virgie McDonald. Date November 16, 1991
non-Native (hybrid, France)

Leaves - Row 4

Leaves – Row 4

Row 4 (top center, then left to right)

(top center) Ficus carica (common fig)
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By MLM. Date April 29, 1992
non-Native (southwest Asia)

Pinus patustrus (longleaf Pine)
Found St. Pauls, NC. Collected By Virgie McDonald. Date Found November 16, 1991
Native to southeastern United States

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date April 26, 1992
Native to eastern and central North America

Latin Name Unknown (round lobed sweetgum)
[Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’ (Round-Lobed Sweetgum)]
Found Coker Arboretum. Collected By DVM. Date Found November 24, 1991
Native, originally discovered in 1930 in North Carolina.

Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date April 22, 1992
Native to eastern North America

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Found Chapel Hill, NC. Collected By MLM. Date Unknown
Native to North America

 

Sassafras

Sassafras

My favorite leaf in the collection?

To this day a mere glance at the small dancing Sassafras always makes me smile. If leaves can have personalities, this one seems to have a cheerfully upbeat one.

27 thoughts on “Leaves

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Cathy, glad you enjoyed it. Our daughter was surprised I would want to write about this at all, but I still get a lot of pleasure from her project.

      Reply
  1. Julie

    What a really interesting post Susie, we have kept nature projects our children undertook but none as detailed as this one. What a wise teacher too, this must be the best way to properly learn and identify trees and leaves. Love the thought of leaves with personalities, just the name Sassafras sounds cheerful.

    Reply
  2. Pauline

    What an amazing collection! I remember collecting bits and pieces when going for a walk when little, this love of the outdoors and the countryside is still with me, as I hope it is with your daughter. When my children were little there was always a nature table in a corner of the classroom which we added to each week.
    You have so many different oaks, you’re so lucky!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Pauline. Your children must have had a special childhood. I like the idea of that nature corner. My husband says there are over 400 species of oaks in NC (I can’t confirm for sure. Figures like that fly out of my head right away.)

      Reply
  3. johnvic8

    Your great post makes me wish we had saved some of our kids’ projects…although I don’t know where we would put my daughter’s Shakespearean replica of the Globe theater.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      You’d probably have to settle for some photos of that Globe theater, John! Photos or even movies nowadays are so easy for parents to document everything.

      Reply
  4. Cathy

    That is such a lovely collection with so many memories wrapped up in it. Thanks for sharing Susie. And now you have a digital record of it too!

    Reply
  5. Donna@Gardens Eye View

    A very special collection because your daughter put it together and it definitely intrigues a gardener. A wonderful long-lived project she will treasure someday too and how special to still have it….my rock and shell collections are long gone.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Yes it is special for that reason. So you assembled both a rock and a shell collection? Good for you. I never was required to in school and therefore never made a collection like this.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Glad to know you’re part of the club Jason. My older sister had to do an insect collection but somehow it was never an assignment for me to do any kind of collecting.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I appreciate your comment so much! It was so much fun for me remembering this family episode–so glad you enjoyed it. (I did get the second message. For some reason WordPress didn’t recognize that you’ve commented previously and was waiting for me to approve the comment before displaying it.)

      Reply
  6. @PlantPostings

    This is my favorite post today! Thanks for sharing the story behind it. (I may have another comment that didn’t show up. For some reason, it didn’t register. WordPress appears to be having some glitches today. My previous comment may have gone to your spam folder. In any case, thanks for a beautiful post. It made me smile.)

    Reply
  7. Marian St.Clair

    Great fun! Enjoyed reminiscing with you. If I remember correctly, our son, Andrew, did bugs about the same time. We did not keep them, lol, but he still has the family tree genealogy, which was also a crowd pleaser.

    Reply

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