Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some Early Blooming Trees

Of the four Native Plum Trees, Prunus americana, I have planted, this one seems to be flowering the best. Two others seen to be susceptible to biannual blooming which also happens in Apple trees, and I'm sure others as well. Generally the flowers from one year release a chemical that tells the tree to produce fewer of them next year. The solution is simply to remove half the buds and this should even things out. Whatever the case, it seems I won't be getting the crazy yields I got last year. The fourth tree had never been good at flowering and I might remove it entirely in favor of another Prunus species.

Viburnum trilobum, is called Highbush Cranberry, though it's not a cranberry at all; it's a viburnum. Apparently the berries to all viburnums are edible, but whether or not they're palatable is yet to be discovered. It seems this year I'm going to find out. My little plant here it only a knee high stick in the ground and yet it's flowering. I've had it for four years I think, and sadly had to transplant it once, and the spot it's in now isn't what I'd call ideal as it gets pretty dry and shady there. I'll have to take care of it some I think. V. trilobum is sold and marketed as an edible berry producing plant that "tastes good" but they also said that about Red Current, and frankly I don't find true Cranberries all that appealing to eat. Some of my friends are disgusted by Blueberries though so I guess it's all a matter of taste.

The Gooseberry Bushes, Ribes species, are also flowering too. An issue though is that these were sold to me as the cultivar 'Pixwell' which are supposed to be big and green to a red-brown color berries. But last year they produced tiny red pearl sized berries that were more like Red Current without some of the bitterness. I'm not sure what to call them but they're at least in the genus and I can eat them, so that's a plus.  

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, is budding now and will be flowering in a week or so. I love this tree. This was a sapling I got from the Arbor Day Foundation as a 10 pack with other trees too. It took about 4 years to start flowering for me and might be something to look into for those seeking ideas on celebrating Earth Day (April 22) this year.

A trait I love about Redbuds is that they eventually flower in random locations all along the trunk. And these go on to produce seed pods as the other flowers do as well. As the tree grows and gets a larger trunk, these flowering patches expand and in some cases the flowers almost look like a magenta lichen or moss growing up along the trunk. Most of the flowers do occur at growth points as seen in most other trees, but I always found this random flowering to be a striking feature.