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
Saturday, January 08, 2022
A Mystery Tree in Princeton
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:
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.