Monday, September 28, 2009

Nature's Tree Planters

About twenty years ago while visiting my father, as the evening grew later and the conversation had run to many subjects, Dad said, "Did you ever watch earthworms plant maple trees?" Say What!? Yes, he assured me, earthworms snake out of their tubes, grab samara the maples have dropped and pull them part-way into the hole. I was, to say the least, skeptical, which prompted Dad to go to the utility drawer and get a flashlight. We went out into his yard and under the beam of the light I saw the wiggling wings of a samara. Watching closely I saw exactly what my father had described to me.

Days later, working in my own garden at home I observed many clumps or clusters of maple seeds all over the area. I grasped the wings of one of these and pulled it from the ground. There were more than thirty seeds packed into one hole!

Don't ever doubt that the ways of nature are curious, indeed. I have since noted that the seeds of some ash trees are also planted in this fashion. There are many other instances of creatures planting seeds, the one that springs first to mind being the answer to the question, "Why do mulberry trees often grow up around fence posts?" Open your eyes; look around you. It's fun!

[a future topic: how a new pond is populated with fish,no stocking.]

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