New Leaf

Photograph of the back of one of the leaves seen through the microscope.

TURNING OVER a new leaf, as a change from the chairs, hands or architectural details that I normally draw when I’m in a waiting room, I pick up these dried leaves as we walk into Orchard Croft health centre in Horbury this morning.

It’s drawn with my new Art Pen and the Noodler’s brown ink flows just fine. Could this supplant my ArtPen filled with black as my favourite pen? It’s lovely to write with.

As the nib is a size up from what I’m used to, fine rather than extra-fine, the line tends to be bigger and bolder, which is no bad thing, I just need to approach drawing in a bolder and more confident way. No tentative whiffling movements! (whiffle meaning a slight movement, as if blown by a puff of air. In last week’s BBC TV bird spectacular EarthFlight, the word was used to describe the twist geese often give as they land, letting air out from under their wings by tipping over at an angle of 45 degrees).

I realised that in order to identify the species I was going to have to unfurl the dried up leaf. I had thought that it was the leaf of a species of Prunus, an ornamental cherry growing by the car park but there’s hardly anything in the way of teeth along the edge of the leaf, just a suggestion of it on the right margin of the larger apical leaf. There’s no suggestion that the smaller leave ever have a pointed tip, as cherry leaves do, although the damaged larger leaf might once have had a tip.

The buds in the axils of the leaves are reddish and pointed, resembling an apple pip. There are downy hairs on the back of the leaf, visible with a hand lens or through the microscope (top).

Despite all those white downy hairs this isn’t the leaves of Whitebeam; they aren’t broad enough. Some kind of willow perhaps, such as Goat Willow (but there are no auricles at the base of the leaves).

This is the problem with trying to identify a tree from the leaves only; you don’t have twigs, bark and fruits to give you extra clues. Still, more interesting than drawing the chairs in the waiting room again!

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    1. Thank you! Hmm, hope you realise that the amazing image of the downy leaf under the microscope is in fact a photograph even if it does look a bit like abstract expressionism. I better change the caption, just in case!

    1. Well, it does add up and sometimes it’s the only time I sit still long enough to draw. We’re taking my mum to the doctor’s and optician’s this morning so I must grab some natural form, just in case I get time to draw.

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