Wood crackle

The forest is full of strange and expected voices these days…

Here’s one, from a week or so ago. It was a dry day, following two months of record-breaking dry days. The sun was barely down. From the edge of a suburban woodlot, ear-sparkles came from the treetops, like the fizz and pop of a small pine-wood fire or the crackle of water droplets in hot bacon grease.


We walked into the woods with flashlights to find the source of the sound. An intermittent rain of velvety seed pods greeted us, the popped remnants of wisteria fruits. In the dry air they were all dehiscing at once, flicking seeds away from the mother plant in tiny explosive releases.

These are large vines, reaching all the way to the forest canopy. They’ve topped some trees, smothering them. Their vines muscle and squeeze. The seeds are loaded with toxins, so next year will see more colonists tendril-climbing the forest scaffold.