Friday, June 8, 2012

What a leaf!

An oak leaf the size of a man's hand is fairly standard, but take a look at this one I found on a young tree which stood less than knee high in the small woods by our house.

 The leaf is nearly 12 inches long and 10 inches wide.

I spotted the leaf in the undergrowth near a red oak, which we planted less than 20 years ago and is the proud parent of this struggling young tree. The little tree has grown from an acorn and poked its way through the tall grass and other greenery to finally rise above all the competition for light.
Producing this huge leaf will ensure that the plant will take in all the light possible to grow taller and build a strong root system.

For a size comparison, I placed my cap on a stiff plum succor so the oak leaf is directly above the cap.

You can see my cap next to the young tree in the lower right corner. The tall, slim parent tree is left of center in the above picture. If the young tree wins the battle to overcome the shade of tight underbrush (peer competition by size), it will face trying to grow up in the shadow of its parent, which by that time will be spreading widely, blocking the sun with its broad, thick leaves.

The young tree's goal is to survive, and to survive it has to physically overcome the parent tree.  The conflict will endure throughout the lives of both trees. 

And you think you've had conflicts with your parents! 

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