Wednesday, 28 September 2016

tree - bur oak

oak trees are lovely.  at my folks place we have one in the front yard that we planted when i was young, it's pretty tall now, but i suppose it's still pretty small.  every summer these bluejays come to eat all the acorns from it, they are relentless!  they chase away the squirrels, the magpies, anything!!! those are their acorns!!!

some oak trees in a park downtown, in the fall they turn a brownish colour

oak are fairly simple to identify cause they have super duper uniquely shaped leaves.  most of the oak trees in the city here are bur oak, a type of white oak with rounded leaves (as opposed to red oak, which have pointy leaves, or at least that's how i understand it..)

i couldnt find any acorns on the trees, it's fairly late in the season and animals must have got to them..  but there were a whole bunch of the little tops left on the ground

oak is a really good dye plant.  the leaves produce nice shades of browns and even blacks with iron mordant.  another weird thing with oaks that has dye potential is oak galls..  i have seen pictures of big huge ones, but maybe those are on other types of trees?  but here i have only seen little ones..  i took a picture but it's blurry (i thought it was in focus or i woulda taken another, oops!)

oak galls are a weird sorta thing where wasps (or other insects?) have laid eggs and the tree produces something (the gall i guess) around it as a reaction of sorts.. afterwards the insect breaks out, see the little hole!
oak (or other) galls are used as a mordant in dyeing, but i have some ethical questions about it and have not been able to find a lot of information.  what i wonder is is when they are collected, do they just collect them off the tree at random with the insect inside?  or are they collected at a time in the year when it is certain that there are no insects inside?  personally, i wouldnt want to be willfully killing anything for the things i make, so i just dont know?

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