By Sydney Chandler
The sun is a welcome feature of summer, but on this toasty morning it necessitated shade. A short stroll through the woods to the Shade Tree Exhibit was the perfect respite. The bright blue sky fought for attention against the vibrant green leaves and provided a curious x-ray-like style of exploration.
The jungle chapter of this exploration begins with the Umbrella Magnolia and Cucumbertree Magnolia. Both feature impressive leaf sizes and visible veins. Their relative, the Anise Magnolia, grows significantly smaller leaves but still provides surprisingly dense coverage with overlapping leaves that adorn an elaborate network of twisting branches.
After the impressive shading skills of the Anise Magnolia, the Tamarak and Amur Cork Tree seem to be planted in the exhibit ironically. Visitors to these shade trees should wear ample sunscreen! In particular, the Amur Cork Tree looks as if it grew against a wall– quite tall with tufts of leaves far off the ground. It redeems itself with interesting scraggly bark and deep furrows at eye-level.
Amur Cork Tree
Walking through the woods trails after visiting the shade tress reinforces the impressive ability of trees to provide shelter, enforce quiet, and contrast a bright blue sky with ample green. These shady characters are welcome contributors to the Arboretum’s vast biodiversity.
Sydney Chandler is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.