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The website Pest Management Handbooks (Pacific Northwest) says, “The serpentine madrone miner adult is a tiny moth. Larvae of this leaf- and twig-mining moth blaze sinuous, serpentine mines across the surface of leaves. Although damage might be unsightly on individual leaves, they do not affect the long-term health of the tree.”

As we know, I don’t think it’s unsightly. I love these patterns and the history they reveal. But I’m glad to know that the leafminer (whose scientific name, Marmara arbutiella, signals its special relationship with the Arbutus genus) gets what it needs without causing real harm to the tree. My daughter tells me this variety of symbiosis, in which the relationship is beneficial to one species, and neither helpful nor harmful to the other, is called commensalism.


Again, I want to spend more time on this one than I can do in one day, so this is a work in progress. This madrone leaf was visited by a leaf miner. Not good for the leaf, I’m sure, but so beautiful.

A madrone branch adorns the front wall of UUCPA’s sanctuary, so this species, which as far as I recall I had never heard of before I came to Palo Alto, now has a sacred significance for me.

Color is hard. I’m experimenting, seldom sure what’s working, enjoying.

One of the meanings of “osier” is the pliable twigs of trees that can be used to make baskets. This tree is well-named, because the twigs are bright red. The leaves are green until cold weather, but I just had to draw one in its fall colors.

I don’t want to stop spending time with this leaf, so I’ll continue tomorrow.

May 22: Here’s today’s progress. It’s pretty much done, but I want to get some distance–literally and figuratively–and tomorrow I’ll change any areas that show they need it.

Reference photo. From the website Oaks of the World, Quercus Toumeyi

I am drawing a gray oak leaf (Quercus grisea) and loving the white fuzz on it. Actually drawing it, on the other hand . . . I have to look at how people draw textures like this, because drawing in a zillion little dots is going to drive me around the bend. Of course, I could draw it white on black, e.g. with a scratchboard. That would be better suited, but still, why do I let myself in for this level of detail?

So, I’ll continue working on it, and post tomorrow, but in the meantime I’ll be searching for botanical drawings of fuzzy plants.

Trees don’t pay any mind to human boundaries, and this species of oak lives along either side of the border in Arizona and New Mexico, USA, and Sonora and Chihuahua, México.

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