|The Pignut has smaller leaf scars than the Mockernut.|
Not far from the Pignut was another type of hickory. The leaf scars on this one were triangular with raised edges. What stands out is the bright yellow buds and the orangy color of the year old twigs. This one was easy to find in the key since only Bitternut Hickory, Carya cordiformis, has the yellow leaf buds.
|Yellow leaf buds and the raised leaf scars indicate that this is a Bitternut Hickory|
As I was taking these photos I noticed some branches where the leaf buds were opposite on another on the twig, rather than on alternate sides moving along the twig. There are only 6 genera of native trees with this opposite branching: Maples, Ash, Catalpa, Buckeye, Dogwood and Viburnum. When I see this opposite branching pattern I usually think of maples, but the terminal leaf buds on this branch were not as pronounced as on maples. To help with this ID challenge I turned to The Tree Identification Book, by George Symonds. A quick review of the twig photos brought me to this being some type of Ash tree. I'm pretty sure that this is a White Ash, Fraxinus americana. I settled on that because the twigs were smooth and not fuzzy (F. pensylvanica); and the leaf scars are concave at the top rather than straight across (F. nigra).
|White Ash has smooth, hairless twigs, a blunt terminal bud and the leaf scars are concave at the top (arrow).|
|Leaf buds of the American Beech 'stick out'.|
|Toothwort, a spring ephemeral is a member of the Mustard (Brassicacae) Family.|
While walking back to the house I noticed a lot of little white flowers blooming in the lawn. Many aspects of this plant were familiar, but I could not put a name to it. I ended up digging one up for closer examination with a hand lens. The flowers had 4 petals so I immediately thought of the mustard family. I ended up using Gleason and Conquist to key it out as Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy Bittercress. This is an Old World plant that is now found in 2/3 of the US. It is a winter annual that germinates in the fall and overwinters as a rosette. It blooms from early spring and through the summer. While edible, the leaves on mine are very small, so it would take a lot if picking to make a salad.
|Hairy Bittercress has tiny hairs on the leaves and petioles visible with a hand lens.|