A Bigtooth Aspen: Catkin to Leaves
Spring 2003, Saddle Rock, Long Island

  At first I thought of a particular tree as being a good-looking birch but difficult to photograph because its catkins were very high up. Nevertheless, around April 20, I took a few photos of its reddish catkins. After that, I ignored the tree in favor of easier models.
Poplar catkin
However, by May 4, when the following photo was taken, I realized that it wasn't a birch at all. I had become accustomed to seeing birch leaves growing by pairs on either side of a female catkin. Not only did this tree have but a single type of catkin, but it had a compound bud from which any number of leaves would grow.
Poplar budding
Those buds high on the tree were already forming leaves, and by May 8, the lower buds were easy to photograph as they unraveled themselves into leaves. Many of the young leaflets hung down, as below. They were extremely fuzzy.
Poplar leaflet
  Some of the other buds tended to be artistic and were arranged in patterns, as in the spiral below.
Poplar leaflet spiral
  By May 12 just about all the leaves were fully formed, though very gray and both thick and fuzzy.

Young poplar leaves
  I had convinced myself that this was a gray poplar, but by May 20, the leaves began turning a more consistent green, on both the front and the back. Subsequently, thanks to the good site Dendrology at Virginia Tech, the tree has been identified as a Bigtooth Aspen (which is a member of the poplar family, so I didn't miss by much).
Poplar leaves
  A photo of the overall tree, as well as a closeup of its trunk on the following page.

Photo note: The first five photos were taken with a Pentax LX (photos 1 and 2 via the Voigtlander 125mm macro lens and photos 3 to 5 via the SMC A 200mm macro lens), and the last one was taken with a Sony F707.

Aspen trunk   |   Norway maple

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