Monday, December 5, 2011

Only one's a willow

It took me a long time to distinguish between three 'willows' in the canyon (only one of which is a real willow). As Angie had her close up lens (and was intimidated by my gopher®-wielding self), she graciously agreed to shoot all the leaves I liked so that I could do this little leaf lesson. Thanks, Angie!

All Photos by Angie Perryman 11/30/11

First up is the African Sumac (Rhus lancea) in the Cashew Family. Click on the photo to note the smooth-edged leaves.

Yes, it's a willow

Click on this photo and contrast the edges. Note that the Goodding Willow (Salix gooddingii) has serrated edges on its leaves. It's a true willow (Family: Salicaceae). Salicylic acid is found in the bark and gives the plant some natural defense against headaches. Just kidding about the headaches; it does lend protection against disease. If you add an acetyl group to salicylic acid (as I did once or twice in college chemistry, if memory serves), you get aspirin.

Nope, not a real willow.

The Seep Willow (Baccharis salicifolia) is in the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). Note the species name: salicifolia = leaves (foliage) that look(s) like willow. Click on the photo to compare these leaves with the Goodding Willow leaves. I think they look 'toothier'. They are nearly always green-er (or greenier, if you prefer). And they are much toothier than the leaves of the African Sumac.
Angie has several good photos of each; a quiz (or two) will be forthcoming. You can find all three in the riparian area in the dam area, if you'd like to study.

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