They get all the media attention and tourists adore them, but the cherry trees circling the Tidal Basin aren’t the only ones putting on a show each spring. In April of last year, Marjorie Rachlin wrote about the wonderful variety of trees in bloom and other signs of spring. Here’s an excerpt.
Several weeks ago, I knew winter was waning when I looked up through my windshield (at a stop sign!) and saw a red haze on a tree along the street. “The red maples have begun to bloom,” I thought.
Those tiny red blooms silhouetted against the blue sky will soon produce hundreds of winged maple seeds that float lazily down onto our lawns.
After the maple trees come the elms. They make a brown haze against the sky.
Their blooms aren’t as pretty, but just as productive – bunches of little flat green seeds about a quarter-inch wide are already forming on the branches. Goldfinches and squirrels love them.
Right now is the time to look for the willow trees, as they begin to leaf out. Their weeping branches make a lovely yellow-green cascade. Willows will grow in our yards, but their real habitat is along streams and rivers – they line the Potomac at Hains Point.
Around Forest Hills you’ll see that the star magnolias are in full glory.
These are a small tree, native to Japan, introduced here many years ago. It’s “tender,” in landscape parlance, so let’s hope we don’t have a late frost, which would brown the blossoms.
The sycamores are still bare, not ready to green-up yet, but without leaves the one at the corner of corner of 30th and Davenport is even more striking. This is an old tree, with beautiful patterns of mottled bark on its trunk and branches.
Sycamores are a native American tree, but they prefer to live on flood plains, not city lots. You usually find them along the Potomac. They are a member of the plane family and sometimes called “plane trees” (the Latin name is platanus occidentalis). Our American sycamore is a relative of the smaller plane tree we see on city streets in London and France.
We are blessed in our trees in Forest Hills – and we have the oaks to look forward to, with their ocher tassels and their yellow pollen (and for some people, allergy symptoms).