Photos: November Woods

There is a season filled with color that brightens our days as the sunlight fades...

This is the tag end of the old Blue Hill River Road off West St in Braintree. It was cut off by the construction of Rt 93 in the early 1960s. Now it runs through a 77-acre sliver of the Blue Hills Reservation. It’s a nice easy walk out and back.

Like yellow?  This vine is Smilax rotundifolia, also known as greenbriar. Once the leaves turn, they drop fast.


Here’s witch hazel in bloom. It can dominate moist understories. The flowers open as the leaves turn and typically outlast them.

I got off the road to see where the woods ended at the shrub swamp to the south along the Blue Hill River.  Note the phragmites fringe on the right. Hope it doesn’t eat up everything.

Am thinking this is a yellow birch sapling, Betula alleghaniensis. Leaves of the similar black or sweet birch taper less, I think. But I’ll have to check


I know this is arrowwood, Viburnum dentatum.  DCR gave out 100 permits to bowhunters for this area and others in the Reservation. I wonder if any made their own arrows.


Black huckleberry is probably the most common shrub in the Reservation’s rocky uplands. There’s places where you have to wade through it. Here it is with a stump on the road shoulder.

The woods can’t really compare, for color, to the suburbs around them–not enough sugar or japanese maples, for instance–but highbush blueberry can turn red if it gets sun. This one is at the south-facing swamp edge.

Looking back from the swamp edge over an old wall.  This one probably enclosed a sheep pasture long ago and had barbed wire on top. The wire didn’t last. Neither did the pasture.

Looking SW across the river swamp toward the massive new apartment blocks at 5 Pacella Park in Randolph. This is the last of the color, more or less. How long till the first snow?

Tom Palmer
Willett Pond Manager
November 2018

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