In the last workshop of the weekend children's museums, our group task is piecing puzzles. I choose the fruits and seeds of three kinds of trees--small-leaved Barringtonia, the mahogany tree and Taiwan Hemlock (Tsuga chinensis).
In the workshops before, children don't need much of their parents' assistance. However, this time, the adults can't help taking part in the game. Some groups work fast, while others take much more time. In the beginning, I forget to remind the groups if the pictures are landscape or portrait, so in the end, some of them have to start all over again.
It looks like the moms are going to get it right, but the image is landscape. Surprisingly, I get to see the interaction between kids and their parents because of teamwork. Some mothers are more involved than their children. One extremely beautiful mom who looks like a mix seems to love my pictures, plants and the herbarium!
This is the finished piece, but this boy is from another different group than the moms and children in the photos above.
We have some small-leaved Barringtonia trees right outside in the garden. Isn't it nice to see with our eyes what we have learned? The tree is also called Powerpuff Mangrove.
Small-leaved Barringtonia trees grow near the sea, so the fruits are carried off with the tide. They are waterproof.
The fruits are rather light!
Our next star is the mahogany tree.
These two boys are very committed. Their mom standing behind them is a teacher. She's the first adult that asks me if she can draw as well.
The tree trunks of a mahogany tree is symmetrical, growing from the single sturdy stem. I was in a hurry to finish the picture during the week, so it is not until I walk by the row of mahogany trees on the campus of NTU on Saturday that I realize I didn't draw very precisely.
The fruits, which look like reddish-brown capsules, split along five seams on sunny days in around March. Then the propeller-like seeds will be carried far away from their mother tree by the wind.
Our last star today is the fruit and seeds of Taiwan Hemlock.
Taiwan Hemlocks are found above the altitude of 2,000 m in Taiwan. The male pine cone disperses the pollen, which lands on the purple female cones. They are then tightly closed in to protect the eggs. The purple color will gradually change into brown. The cones of Taiwan Hemlocks are about 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm.
When the seeds are ready, the hemlock tree will cut off its supply of water to the pine cone. This causes it to dry up and open up, allowing the seeds found at the base of the scales to fall or be blown out of the cone.
It always brings me much delight to look at children drawing.
I adore a group of adults and children so much that I can't help mailing their postcards for them.
The tour of the outdoor gardens are super enriching. The guide James can talk on and on when it comes to plants.
You can't miss the common tree fern outside the herbarium. It is our special feature.
I really thank the staff and volunteers of the herbarium for making all this possible, also, for giving me so much freedom to plan what to do. I seem to have spent much time and effort preparing the teaching materials, but Saturday afternoons are my favorite. I never leave the herbarium without feeling fulfilled during these weeks. What more can I ask for when I am blessed with a life with children and plants?