Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 2012 Arbutus

Please understand that one of the reasons that we write this blog is to create a record for ourselves.  Expect to see an arbutus post nearly every month until we understand the life cycle of this plant.  The patch has changed very little during August.  Only the plant nearest the bottom edge of the photo is still putting out new leaves.  It was chewed to a nub this spring and is still working to reestablish itself.  The other plants are darkening the color of their leaves as all are turned into the late afternoon sun.  Sunlight only strikes here during the afternoon and all of the leaves are positioned to take full advantage of that short bright window.

This tiny leaf is making its third appearance on the blog.  We hope that it is a from seed new arbutus plant.  Its slow growth supports our dream.  What weed grows that slowly?  Recent research revealed that an arbutus seed cluster resembles a raspberry fruit.  No structure like that has been seen here.  If this plant is from arbutus seed, the seed was already dropped when we transplanted the adjacent full sized plant.  Now that we know what a seed cluster looks like we will be looking for one next summer.

This picture will be updated every month until the old leaves do something.  The second pair of leaves from the top are old growth.  All of the other leaves in the picture sprouted this year.  The difference in color is becoming less apparent as the new leaves darken.  We know well the exact location of the old leaves and we are expecting them to drop from the plant.  How long an arbutus leaf lives is unknown to us.  So we watch hoping to learn.

This is a closeup of the plant that was chewed to the crown this spring.  Bright hairy new leaves are still emerging.  Some sign of a stem may have to wait for next year's growth.  For now it certainly looks like the plant is planning to return.  The chewed leaves are clearly marked so that we can watch and record their life cycle.

The remaining new growth for this season is the flower buds.  We know that arbutus sets its buds before winter but we would like to know exactly when.  So we will wait and watch.

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