BotonyFilter: What is this baby tree (urban-wild in Vancouver, BC)?
July 24, 2014 9:30 PM   Subscribe

This baby tree is (probably) in its second growing season. Can anyone identify the species? (urban-wild in Vancouver, BC)

This was originally a storebought-dirt filled pot planted with a storebought cilantro plant, which bolted in a couple of weeks because the mirror-windowed office building West across the street created two sun cycles a day and confused the poor thing. I let the pot fallow over the years, fascinated by how weeds, then moss colonized the space, then the shifting equilibrium between different mosses (it looks predominantly monoculture now), fungi, and herbs.

Then this guy showed up. I'm interested in finding out how big the seed is to figure out the odds of whether a bird pooped it in the pot or a bird/squirrel (! had seen one on an urban 3rd floor balcony far away from serendipitous access) was stashing something for later in the pot.

I'm really getting a kick out of watching it grow up, especially the physical effects of changes in transcriptional gene regulation propagating upwards from the roots as the plant grows vertically. Interestingly, branchings from a branch don't seem to use the same gene regulation mechanisms that are used for branching from the trunk (or they manifest via different effectors).

The radial leaves on the trunk, from the bottom up, start getting sacrificed of nutrients (and the rest of the plant sacrificing the energy harnessed from that leaf, but that's more than made up by more leaves higher up) and those nutrients get diverted into making less herbacious and more woody tissue and start turning into branches that are growing away from the trunk in order to get more photons.

Another really curious thing is that one side is a bit shadier, and that has an influence on branch patterning and its super interesting to see how this interaction proceeds.
posted by porpoise to Science & Nature (3 answers total)
Best answer: I would guess that's a silver birch seedling. The seeds are tiny and could have easily blown in on the wind.
posted by oxisos at 10:07 PM on July 24, 2014

The leaves appear serrated on the edges, and the veins are pretty distinctive. Could it be some variety of hazel? Squirrels (or something) are constantly burying hazel nuts in our community garden beds.

On preview, ok so oxisos's suggestion is better. I suppose your plant's leaves are too triangular for hazels. Same family though.
posted by sevenless at 10:19 PM on July 24, 2014

Best answer: I was also thinking birch - they self-sow all over Portland, OR. A google image search seems to indicate the seeds are wind-dispersed.
posted by feidr2 at 10:05 PM on July 25, 2014

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