Nature photography / Blue Ridge Mountains / Virginia
I’ve posted before–several times, perhaps–about the leaves that persist on the trees into winter. Marcescence, we discovered this clinging to the twig is called.

Here are some more marcescent beech leaves taken last week–not exactly the image I was hoping for. The wind picked up and the sun disappeared from the time I left the house til I reached the logging road where I’d noticed a nice cluster of fading leaves begging to get their picture taken.

If I do the color-image book and include this passage, I’ll need several shots to chose from. We’ll toss this one into the mix, and hope to better it. But I’d best get the right shot soon, because it won’t last forever:

“… This year’s beech leaf may stay on the twig until next spring’s tiny new leaf evicts it, finally, pushing it out and away, off into space, down to the black soil among the first of the spring mustards and violets.”

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. those look like leaf-shaped Ruffles potato chips….and i haven’t had breakfast yet and am hungry. 🙂

  2. Dear Fred,

    what a beautiful, elegant word — I saw some clinging leaves this morning, with a cherry tree a few feet away already breaking into blossom

    is there a word for those leaf remnants who’ve dissolved partway to leave only the leafy skeletons?

    thank you,
    and happy new year!
    Christy Lee-Engel