Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Surprising Finds this Week

As I was traveling through Mount Auburn Cemetery this week I was caught off guard by what appeared to be blooms on a Harlequin Glorybower, Clerodendron dichotomum. This was surprising to me because I recalled seeing it covered with pinkish blooms at the end of June. On closer examination I saw that these were actually bright red sepals surrounding a sapphire blue fruit (a drupe, actually). In a sense this shrub produces interesting ‘blooms’ twice in a season.

This Glorybower is not native to North America. It has it origins in China and Japan. It is cold hardy to Zone 6, and here in Boston it is approaching the northern limits of its range. Here at Mount Auburn, it has ‘died to the ground’ at least once, but as you can see it has regrown to a good sized shrub. For more information about this plant check out this link:

Growing next to the Glorybower is a native shrurb, Bottlebrush Buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, a southeastern native anyway. The delicate white brush-like flowers that topped this plant at the beginning of July have grown into golf ball sized nuts that hit the ground with a small thud. Sometimes I wonder how could a flower like that turn into that fruit that looks so different.

The last big surprise, botanically anyway, was when I nearly bumped into this old Common Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos. This particular tree is the straight species, not the thornless variety that is used in the landscaping trade. These water sprouts give a close up view of the 3” thorns that characterize this species.

Most of the commercially available plants available today are derived from a naturally occurring thornless variety G. triacanthos var. inermis, native to the Eastern United States. If it were not for this variety, I can imagine that the Common Honeylocust would only rarely be seen on any landscaped properties.


Laurrie said...

I spent today at the Arnold arboretum in Boston and saw some honeylocust trees with those crazy lethal spiked sprouts. Pretty amazing... what was nature thinking? (It was fun to see them here on your blog the same day). My bottlebrush buckeyes, still small plants, are producing the fat buckeyes now. I wonder, can I bury a buckeye in the ground and produce a new plant?

Elizabeth Burns said...

I really enjoy your blog, Curtis. Very informative, and pretty!