Autumn in Somerville

A look at the natural beauty of Autumn in Boston

I conducted this project as part of Professor Pringle’s EEB321 class at Princeton University.

Fall is not just a seasonal change but also a sensational feeling that brings us closer to our natural surroundings. It starts slow. You first notice that you start your day with an extra layer of clothing. When you walk outside, the air is crisper and fills your breadth with a pleasant chill. Then all of the sudden, you notice the crunching of fallen leaves under your feet, with the surrounding trees expressing themselves in fantastic displays of orange and red.

One Autumn change that caught my eye was the beautiful transition of the winterberry bush, Ilex verticillata. The winterberry bush is a 10-15 foot tall holly that is commonly planted around the Boston area. In the late fall, the plant loses its leaves but also ripens small red drupe fruits that it first develops in the summer. The bright red fruits attract small species of birds that consume and subsequently disperse their seeds. I was curious and took a deeper look into the structure of the fruit using the foldscope.

The photograph below is a sample of a thin cross-section of the winterberry fruit under the magnification of the foldscope. As you can see the plant tissue is clumped and transparent while retaining the red hue of the outside of the fruit. I also included a photograph of a nearby ivy leaf under foldscope magnification to allow a comparison between two different plant tissues under the same Autumn conditions.

Foldscope image of a cross-section of the winterberry fruit
Ivy leaf

No matter where you are, I hope you take the time to enjoy a beautiful Autumn!-Sean Edling

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mohamad says:

    Dear Sean,

    Thanks for posting this about Fall. after reading your wonderful story, I realized I am missing the opportunity to chill outside this beautiful time of the year. I will make sure to do that asap and repeat.

    btw, I love berry I can eat them non-stop.
    Did you try to see only the thin outer layer under foldscope?

    Mohamed from Iraq.

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