I have lots of favorite words. In the tree world, my favorite word is dioecious. If a tree species is dioecious, there are boy individuals and girl individuals. Long before I knew about this phenomenon, I remember hiking with a friend and finding Staghorn Sumac with branch tips that were all bare and curled. It wasn’t until years later that I learned why: These were the boy trees. Their flowers shrivel up after the pollination job is done. The girl flowers become the dark red fuzzy berries.
Dioecious. Die-AY-shus. It’s just fun to say it. It’s fun to say deciduous, too. My favorite deciduous tree is one that is sort of an anomaly. It’s a conifer, but it isn’t an evergreen. It actually loses it’s needles each winter and grows new ones the following spring. Have you guessed yet?
Another all-time favorite word of mine is actually a two-word phrase: Autumnal Recrudesence. Naturalists use this phrase to describe the behaviors of animals in fall that normally take place only in spring. For example, today while walking the dog at College Park, I heard the Spring Peepers singing their mating songs. Last week at camp, the chickadees were singing their “fee-bee“ mating song. These are both examples of autumnal recrudescence. Scientists thing the behavior may be triggered by the balance of light and dark in autumn – which is not unlike the balance in spring.
OK, so there are a few of my favorite words. Now tell me one of yours!