Monday, November 21, 2011

Glyptostrobus pensilis gold-leafed form in China Valley

I see that Adrian Higgins included it in his gallery of fall foliage at the Arboretum. (in the Washington Post) I've been watching this particular plant myself for the past three weeks; the rusty-orange color is rich and has been persistent. It lives near the path which worries me a little bit as it will grow to be a tree of some size. I expect we'll need to move it, prune it so that it ends up overhanging the path, or remove it at some point in the future. Procratination will, of course, limit our choices to the latter two.

Glyptostrobus pensilis, a deciduous conifer, is the last species in what was a circumboreal genus millions of years ago. It's range has been narrowed to parts of southern China and a few locations in Vietnam. Actually, the Chinese Swamp Cypress is believed to be extinct in the wild though, as most references note,it has been much planted along the banks of rice paddies where its roots provide stabilization and protect against floods. It's a member of the Cupressaceae, closely related to our own Taxodium and shares the curious characterist of producing woody "knees" that grow up from the roots into the air like stalagmites. Ours lives quite happily in an often soggy area in the middle of China Valley.

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