City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

October 15, 2016

October 15th

Filed under: Box Elder Tree, Maple tree, Weather — canopus56 @ 8:18 pm

Sex and the Single Box Elder

5:00 p.m. Last night there was a large wind storm, and on this weekend day it is very warm. As a consequence, the parking lot is packed and the canyon is full of strolling families, couples and bicyclists. But from the guardhouse gate to mile 0.9, the yellow tube is gone (Oct. 11th). In this lower part of the road, narrowing canyon walls create a Bernoulli wind-tunnel effect (Aug. 18th). The fast winds of last night have scoured the Box elder trees and Rocky Mountain maples bare of leaves and deposited them in large carpets on the road. The helicopter shaped seed catkins of the Box elders remain affixed to the trees. Between mile 0.9 and 1.1, the yellow tube remains. At mile 0.9, the canyon widens, the wind tunnel effect is less, and last night’s winds did not have enough force to strip the trees of leaves.

Box elder trees space themselves along the road. They are in clumps of four or five, then an open space, followed by another clump. Oddly, the Box elders alternate pregnancy. One clump has catkins and next does not, and so on along the road. Is this some way that the Box elder’s use to increase genetic diversity and to avoid incest? If so, since they are too far apart to communicate by root-touch, how do they decide which will play “female” and which will play “male” each season?

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