Fruits of the Season

As summer departs, the ripening season begins.

All summer long the spicebush remains quiet with its simple oval green leaves and tiny yellow flowers. Once the season starts to change, it bursts with bright red berries followed by golden yellow leaves. Courtesy: Karen Flick

Summer is winding down, while it may still be hot, the days are getting shorter. Signs of the season’s change are slowly becoming visible. The natural world will take the next few months to prepare for the ultimate season, winter. Perhaps the biggest change is the ripening of fruit. This capsule which surrounds the seed(s) of a plant is specific to flowering plants. In many cases it is called fruit, but really it has numerous forms, each one attributing to the plant’s specific evolution.

Spicebush adding color to the fall season. Courtesy: Karen Flick

Oak and maple trees, hollies, tulips, and onions are all types of flowering plants. In contrast, a pine tree is not a flowering plant, and it does not form a protective capsule around its seed. In September many of the summer flowering plants have finished flowering and are now forming their protective seed capsule. Acorns start dropping, squashes are forming, maple tree helicopters start twirling down to the ground, and black walnuts fall with a loud thud.

One particular plant that is found throughout the natural areas of the Greater Philadelphia area is spicebush (Lindera benzoin). All summer long the spicebush remains quiet with its simple oval green leaves and tiny yellow flowers. Once the season starts to change, it bursts with bright red berries followed by golden yellow leaves.

The wooded paths throughout Awbury Arboretum are lined with spicebush, creating an enchanting stroll. Adding to the experience, the berries on spicebush are highly valued by the local birds. This plant has evolved with the local birds and developed an ideal capsule to protect the seed. The birds gobble up the berries as quickly as they ripen, and this consumption aids the seed’s journey to becoming a plant. Visit the Arboretum on either the Farm side or Historic Landscape to see these seasonal changes, whether in fruit people like to eat or in ones especially enjoyed by the birds.

Courtesy: Karen Flick

Calendar Alert!
Upcoming events at Awbury Arboretum. For more info, visit awbury.org.

Weekends (til October)
Sunday Fun Days
Sundays, 2-5PM (through Oct 10)
On Sunday afternoons goats will be ready to greet you and Awbury staff will be on hand to answer your questions.

AdventureWoods Open Public Hours
Saturdays and Sundays, 10AM-2PM (through Oct 31)
AdventureWoods is Awbury’s natural materials playground — a mixture of structures, paths, and loose materials that invites families to play in nature.

Awbury Arboretum
One Awbury Rd.
Hours: Although the Cope House and the Arboretum offices are closed until further notice, the meadows, gardens, and grounds of Awbury are open every day from sunrise to sunset, and, as always, free.

Awbury Arboretum (the former Cope family estate) transports visitors from city streets into a country retreat that is the largest remaining oasis of open space in Germantown. Trails weave through 55 acres landscaped in the English romantic style, with open meadows, ponds, woods and rolling hills. The Copes lent their Quaker sense of aesthetics to this world-class arboretum; in 1870, they hired William Saunders, designer of the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., to bring their vision to fruition. Today, Awbury’s mission is to preserve and interpret their historic house and landscape, in order to connect the community with nature and history. Awbury is free and open to the public every day (dawn til dusk). More info at www.awbury.org.

Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @awburyarboretum

About Karen Flick 9 Articles
Karen is Awbury's Landscape Manager. She is a former intern at the arboretum and a Temple University graduate with degrees in psychology and horticulture.

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