Many people are more likely to see a bird flying by than an enormous Sycomore. This phenomenon is called tree blindness. Gabriel Popkin in his NYT article “Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness” explored this concept and declared that he was also a tree blind. However, he also stated that the cure is easy, by learning about trees we (human) will start noticing trees more often and taran! we are cured! We can also spread the wonderful knowledge we acquired, and like that cure other fellow humans. Hopefully, this blog will reach some tree blinds and get those out off their misery that is not to see the plants around us.
I present this species from the most ancestral (old) to the most recently diverged (young), evolutionary speaking.
Magnoliales, Annonaceae, Asimina triloba; common name: Pawpaw.
This species has many cytotoxins, some of which has been used in anticancer research (Zhao et al. 1992). Pawpaws are also the northernmost representative of the family Annonaceae (Willson and Schemske 1980), which is mostly tropical. Even though the flowers of the A. triloba are hermaphrodite (Female and male parts in one flower) autogamy (self-fertilization) is rare because this species exhibit a condition called protogyny. That means that the female parts mature before the anther can release their pollen so the flowers of this plant are protogynous. When the male parts (anthers) mature before the female parts the flowers are called protandrous and the condition is called protandry
Saxifragales, Altingiaceae, Liquidambar styraciflua; common name: Sweetgum
There is a lot to say about Sweetgum, but I will control myself and just add here a couple of lines. This species natural distribution does not reach Columbus, but it is commonly found planted for ornamental purposes. That being said, the ancestor of Liquidambar is thought to have a much wider distribution reaching Alaska and Greenland.
Malpighiales, Salicaceae, Populus deltoides; common name: Eastern Cottonwood
Beautiful looking tree, with leaves that tremble in the wind. However, the dispersal of its seeds makes it annoying when the fruits are fulling open. A white feather-like structure attached to the seeds make them travel far and into my back yard.
Fabales, Fabaceae, Gleditsia triacanthos; common name: Honeylocust
This species is native to Ohio, however, it has been introduced to many places where it has become aggressively invasive.
Rosales, Moraceae, Morus nigra; common name: Mulberry
This is a delicious non-native species. Its berries are edibles, and very similar to blackberries. However, blackberries are from the genus Prunus, family Rosaceae.
Fagales, Fagaceae, Quercus sp; common name: Oaks
Oaks are very difficult to identify, that why I’m leaving this one to the genus level. The Oak is the National Tree of the United State, and The Royal Oak is the National Tree of United Kindom, no surprise.
Sapindales, Sapindaceae, Acer negundo; common name: Boxelder Maple
This is not the tree you picture when you think of Maple, but here it is. Humans use this tree no to build because the wood is not strong enough, but to extract its fibers. Wild animal feed on its seeds, but horses can’t because it is toxic for them.
Sapindales, Sapindaceae, Acer saccharum; common name: Sugar Maple
This is definitely the maple of your picture. It has beautiful autumn colorations.