There's a house along Lake Drive in Princeton that has a special garden. Soon, the house and garden will be bulldozed and replaced, if history is guide, with sterile lawn and generic house, as the destructive side of prosperity has its way with the landscape. It was an estate sale, and before it changed hands I was invited to help myself to whatever was left in the house's garage and yard.
Monday, January 24, 2022
We thought it would be great to dig one up and transplant it to the Barden at Herrontown Woods, but the massive root structures looked intimidating.
Another longterm visitor from another climate is a lime tree that has taken over much of the front office at Tamasi's Shell station on 206.
Sunday, January 16, 2022
I had lived on earth many years before encountering the leaf of a carrot, or a cucumber, or a radish. Planting my first vegetable garden in high school, each leaf was a revelation. It was during college years when I finally passed by a field of peanuts during an environmental field trip in Georgia and Florida. Even then, we didn't stop to take a closer look. Doesn't seem right to eat so much peanut butter and still not have witnessed a peanut plant, with its curious habit of planting its own seeds.
Many more decades would pass before I witnessed a cotton plant, growing in a friend's garden in Durham this past fall. It had been planted for fun, not for the cotton, but it's impressive how much cotton the plant produced, and how much the cotton on the plant looks like the cotton you buy.
Doing some reading, it was surprising to learn that the two most widely grown species of cotton are native to the Americas (as are peanuts, for that matter).
Once one knows about familial relatedness among seemingly disparate plants, it's fun to look for similarities of form in flower or leaf, and begin to see a web of connection in the plant world.
Saturday, January 08, 2022
As someone schooled in botany, my experience of driving is different from most people's. While keeping an eye on the road, a botanist is also keeping an eye on the texture, shape and color of vegetation streaming by. You learn to identify trees in an instant. Their seasonal bloom or fall color can make it easy, but even their overall growth form--their body language--can be enough. The army fatigue bark of sycamores is distinctive, running up a valley in winter. Or the blotch of blue a Princess Tree's blooms make among the trees lining a highway.
Over time, what for most people registers only as a blur of greenery becomes instead a language to be read. Driving along, reading the language of the roadside out of the corner of my eye, I'll very occasionally see something outside of my vocabulary of plants. Sometimes I pass by a given spot many times before a particular flower or growth shape catches my eye and I just have to stop to take a closer look.
Mike Van Clef mentioned "another confusing non-native relative found at Jockey Hollow."
Bob Wells of Morris Arboretum sent a scholarly response, based on some but perhaps not all of these photos:
He referred to the texts by Dirr and Easton, particularly a quote from Easton: “Chokeberries remind us that scientific taxonomy is only the least imperfect of the tools that we have fashioned to help us classify and understand organisms”
I have no doubt that this is one of the Aronias:
- Rosaceae flower
- Alternate, simple, elliptic leaf that comes to an acuminate point.
- Small, even, serrated margins
- Secondary veins disintegrate before reaching the margins
I'd love to call it red chokeberry and declare the case closed, but the leaves don't look or feel quite like any red chokeberry I've ever seen.