City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 14, 2017

January 13th

Filed under: Box Elder Tree, Dogwood, Elk, Gambel's Oak, Meadow Mile 1.3, Mule Deer — canopus56 @ 3:15 am

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Chiral Leaves

5:00 p.m. The rain has abated, it is still overcast, and the inversion layer is building. At mile 1.3, there are on each of elk or mule deer on the high ridges flanking the gate to Pleasant Valley.

Today, I pull out some leaves that I had picked up in early autumn (Oct. 11) and stored between the pages of a book. While walking, I noticed that leaves were chiral, that is they have unique left and right hand versions. The dried maple leaves and Gambel’s oak leaves removed from my book appear to be almost duplicates, but if rested on top of one another such that the top and underside veins match, each leaf is an asymmetric mirror of the other just like human hands. One does find symmetric leaves; they occur when a leaf grows from a terminal bud. Box Elders have a lower ratio of symmetric leaves to chiral leaves due to their structure. Its leaves come in sets of three: a terminal leaf flanked by two chiral leaves. Maple tree leaves are similarly structured. Dog woods have a higher ratio of chiral to symmetric leaves. Their branches are laid out like a symmetric ladder with the bi-lateral opposing leaves each set at an forty-five degree angle to the stem. The result of this layout is that there may be four to eight lateral chiral leaves for each symmetric terminal leaf. The same is true for the leaves of the Water or river birch trees.

It is now in the depths of winter. Looking at photographs taken of how leaves where laid out on branches almost thee months ago, I am reminded of the warmth of October.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 13th, 1854, he hears a buzzing sound coming from a pocket of air escaping from the frozen ground. On January 13th, 1856, he describes the architecture of a vireo’s nest. (In Utah, warbling vireos are also found.)

On January 13th, 1913, Police Chief Grant proposed to alleviate overcrowding the City jail by leasing the vacant county jail (Salt Lake Tribune). Transients (convicted of vagrancy) would be housed in the old county jail and then required to work on public works, including improving City Creek Canyon Road (id). On January 13, 1909, Waterworks Superintendent Thomas Hobday recommended replacing the wooden pipes and reservoir tanks in City Creek Canyon installed in 1890 be replaced with concrete pipes and reservoirs (Salt Lake Tribune). On January 13th, 1898, City Engineer Kelsey recommended that a large concrete reservoir be built at Pleasant Valley in City Creek Canyon, that settling tanks be built lower in the canyon, and that permanent water gauges be installed in City Creek and other watershed canyons (Salt Lake Herald).

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