Autumn's Holdout

By KBJR News 1

October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 10:34 AM CDT

Most of the leaves we have been watching this fall have dropped to the ground. That clears the way to better see one of the trees hitting its prime.

In this week's "Nature Matters" David Hoole meets up with naturalist Larry Weber to get in on "Tamarack Time".

"It's almost as if they wait to tell the other trees have put on all their color and they say to the other trees 'You want to see a show? Well look at this!'"

Outdoor observer, nature writer, and retired educator Larry Weber enjoys the time of year he calls "Tamarack Time". Most of the other deciduous trees have dropped their showy leaves, now people get the chance to see how numerous the tamaracks are in our area forests.
Weber says the trees are a conifer but don't make the mistake of calling them an evergreen.

"It's an evergreen that's not ever green okay? Being a conifer it does have cones, here you go, here's a cone. It does have cones and the cones are this big, okay...oops (drops cone)."

He may drop cones but doesn't drop the ball when touting the Tamarack as one of our native trees.

"This is a native species; there is other tamarack that people do plant in their yards a European type but this is the native one and its out only conifer that will drop all of its needles at the same time. Now one of the confusing things about conifers is that they do drop needles but they just don't drop all of them except for the tamarack."
"The question is why do they drop their needles when other conifers don't. The answer is probably where they grow they grow in swampy areas where the soil is not that good and so it's just a lot more work for them to keep their needles. The other possibility is that with the clusters, the clusters could hold more snow, too much and therefore weigh down the tree, more than the other conifers."
"You never really realize how many there are until you get to take a look at the color this is just terrific! Everybody should get out and take a look at them this time. I always told my students that anyone who has a birthday at this time of year should have been named after a tamarack."

In Carlton County, I'm David Hoole for nature matters.

Larry Weber recently wrote a book about his nature observations called Webwood: seasons of life in the Northwoods, and is currently available at most book retailers.