Neil Carleton 2

 by Neil Carleton

The cool, wet weather last week sure felt like spring again. It brought to mind this year’s spectacular show of fruit tree blossoms, and the heavenly scent that spread through neighbourhoods and across fields. One of the finest examples of the past spring was on Ann Street in Almonte, behind the Presbyterian Church.

 

The two-colored apple tree behind the Presbyterian Church, at 111 Church Street, was in full blossom on May 23. It had certainly been attracting the attention of everyone who passed by on foot or bike. Although there were no reports from the neighbourhood of distracted drivers at that location, it’s likely that more than a few motorists slowed down for good look.  
The two-colored apple tree behind the Presbyterian Church, at 111 Church Street, was in full blossom on May 23. It had certainly been attracting the attention of everyone who passed by on foot or bike. Although there were no reports from the neighbourhood of distracted drivers at that location, it’s likely that more than a few motorists slowed down for good look.
An apple tree with two colours of flowers is an arboreal wonder. A closer examination was necessary, revealing two separate trunks of about equal diameter at the base. The one on right, or south side, was responsible for a profusion of mauve blossoms. Its nearby northern companion was resplendent with a canopy of white flowers.
An apple tree with two colours of flowers is an arboreal wonder. A closer examination was necessary, revealing two separate trunks of about equal diameter at the base. The one on right, or south side, was responsible for a profusion of mauve blossoms. Its nearby northern companion was resplendent with a canopy of white flowers.
The bark texture of each trunk was significantly different. The south tree sported distinctive furrows and accompanying ridges.
The bark texture of each trunk was significantly different. The south tree sported distinctive furrows and accompanying ridges.
The bark of the tree on the north side was much smoother, more akin in appearance to elephant skin.
The bark of the tree on the north side was much smoother, more akin in appearance to elephant skin.
In search of nectar, bees are attracted to flowers. Although they use odour to find a landing place, it’s understood that this only works at pretty close range. Vision is essential to help bees find flowers at a distance. They see flowers quite differently than people.   Humans see light in wavelengths of about 390 to 750 nanometers (nm). This represents the spectrum of visible colours we see from violet to indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Bees, like many insects, see from about 300 to 650 nm. This means that they can’t see the colour red, but they can see in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum that’s invisible to us.   Entomological research has shown that the colour wheel of the honeybee’s world has three primary domains of yellow, blue, and ultraviolet. It’s further known that the sum of any two primaries is also perceived by the honeybee as a new colour, different than the sum of the two.
In search of nectar, bees are attracted to flowers. Although they use odour to find a landing place, it’s understood that this only works at pretty close range. Vision is essential to help bees find flowers at a distance. They see flowers quite differently than people.   Humans see light in wavelengths of about 390 to 750 nanometers (nm). This represents the spectrum of visible colours we see from violet to indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Bees, like many insects, see from about 300 to 650 nm. This means that they can’t see the colour red, but they can see in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum that’s invisible to us.   Entomological research has shown that the colour wheel of the honeybee’s world has three primary domains of yellow, blue, and ultraviolet. It’s further known that the sum of any two primaries is also perceived by the honeybee as a new colour, different than the sum of the two.

Although there aren’t any apple flowers to examine at this time of the year, black-eyed Susans are still plentiful in places. With a dark centre and yellow-orange petals, the colour pattern is simple to our eyes. To an insect’s vision this flower head is a completely different world.

 A honeybee can pick out an additional band in the flower’s bull’s-eye. At the center of the target is the nutritional payload of nectar with pollen. Surrounding the dark bull’s eye, a bee sees a broad circle of yellow which extends half way across the petals – the landing strips. Beyond, each petal is a new colour, termed ‘bee purple’ by researchers, that only insects can see naturally. Against the drab background of foliage, which bees would perceive as something like our gray, the flower of the black-eyed Susan would be an easy-to-find beacon.

 Down on the grass, beneath the south side of the close growing trees, was a spring carpet of predominantly mauve coloured petals on May 23. It was a rich composition when viewed at close range.  

Down on the grass, beneath the south side of the close growing trees, was a spring carpet of predominantly mauve coloured petals on May 23. It was a rich composition when viewed at close range.
The petals of the white blossoms on the northern tree were lightly tinted on their undersides with lilac purple. A tree in flower is as much a spring wonder from half a block away as it is just a hand’s width from your nose.
The petals of the white blossoms on the northern tree were lightly tinted on their undersides with lilac purple. A tree in flower is as much a spring wonder from half a block away as it is just a hand’s width from your nose.

 For a brief time in the lifecycle of an apple tree, the ground beneath the canopy is dusted with freshly fallen petals. In this view, some have slipped down between the grass and clover leaves, while others remain suspended on leaf tips until a gust of wind disturbs them.

For a brief time in the lifecycle of an apple tree, the ground beneath the canopy is dusted with freshly fallen petals. In this view, some have slipped down between the grass and clover leaves, while others remain suspended on leaf tips until a gust of wind disturbs them.

 Although the history of these twin beauties isn’t known, it’s possible that they were planted for their ornamental qualities. The apple tree is a native of Europe. It’s estimated that there are nearly 1000 varieties now growing in North America.

Thank you to Rick Scholes for nominating this month’s shady character.

 Do you have a notable or favourite tree? Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles. You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <ve3nce@gmail.ca>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0. I look forward to hearing from you.

 My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee. The contact for the Tree Committee is Ron Ayling, 613-804-4617. In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.

 Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.