Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shrub Buds

On Thursday I attended a winter shrub workshop; specifically, how to identify shrubs and their benefits to wildlife. Okay, maybe that sounds totally boring, but it's not.

My ability to identify shrubs in winter is always in need of a refresher. For proper i.d. one needs to learn the buds -- whether opposite or alternate, naked or with scales, their color, size and shape. You might even find a clue in the taste or sniff of a broken shrub twig. Now, how fun is that!

This is much like re-learning the songs of returning songbirds each spring. I am an experiential learner. I need to see (or hear) things for myself and see them again and then again. Writing a blog the past two years has enabled me to spend a lot of time outdoors. Or perhaps it is the reverse. Spending lots of time outdoors for work and pleasure spawned my interest in writing a blog, and provided fodder for the regular posts. As this winter has dragged on, I've turned to studying winter buds. Give it a try. You will be surprised at the diversity and beauty found in small packages just outside your door. It makes a cold winter's day much more tolerable. As my young niece would say, "Who knows what treasures you might find."

Here is a sample of native (except the lilac) shrub buds and a few tips on their i.d. See if you can find some of these or other winter buds near you.

Beautiful cinnamon-colored, naked (no scales) buds of hobblebush 

Reddish-brown football-shaped stalked buds of speckled alder

Blueberry bud scales with long tapered tips;
twigs covered with raised speckles or warts

Bright red, pointed buds of maleberry

The 5-parted brown "nutlets" of maleberry persist through winter

Reddish twigs with silky hairs and opposite buds of silky dogwood

I also checked these lilac buds in our yard;
getting a bit antsy for spring blossoms

And the last one for this post, but of course not the least as it is my favorite:
the round golden buds of spicebush; break a twig and smell the spice


  1. I always enjoy seeing the pictures you post on your blog & learning from the accompanying posts - I always learn so much. I have found winter is a good time to see things that once the foliage comes in are hard to easily spot. My abilities are rather limited to spotting blackberry canes & poison ivy vines. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Thanks Allyson. I find the best way to enjoy winter is to get outside and walkabout. There really is a lot to see, as you say before the foliage obscures everything.