Thursday, May 11, 2006

Elm seeds - from Donna Browne's website

There's fascinating information lying at the sides of Central Park's roads -- for those who stop and notice. Donna does. Here's some recent entries from her new blog:
Donna's website:

Note the round beige spots on the ground. Those are the wings of the Elm fruit. These paper thin wings, after sailing the fruit through the air on the breeze, when dried, and brushed against the earth or park paths, wear away, and the small seed is left "unwrapped" on the ground. Currently they are everywhere. Piled alongside the paths, in drifts in gutters, heaped in any lee of the wind, waiting for Pigeons and Sparrows, Bobwhite and Grouse, Gray Squirrels and if we had any, Prairie Chickens and Opossum.
Photo by Donna Browne

More about elm seeds:

Dodging taxis in the crosswalk at Columbus Circle heading for the fountain, I suddenly see all these "things" in the air. Bits of pale paper from a malfuntioning incinerator? Snow in May? By the the time I've reached the center island there are thousands of them swirling in circles, ascending up and up and up, following the draft used so handily by the the Red-tailed Hawks to gain elevation. No they aren't paper and certainly they aren't snow. They are thousands of the flying fruit of the American Elm Tree. A common sight fifty years ago in the United States, but due to the devastation of Dutch Elm Disease, Central Park may be the only place where it can be seen today. Extraordinary lengths were undertaken to save the park's population of American Elms and the flying of their fruit is a very rare thing indeed. Not only for their beauty in flight for the human eye but for the birds and mammals who feast on them.

To see a larger than life detail photograph of the elm fruit, they are in reality about the size of a fingernail, click on the link below and go to nature observer Ben Cacace's site.