Saturday, May 16, 2009

Deerberry and Persimmon

While exercise hiking on the pipeline today I did my usual looking around to see what I could see.  Occasionally, even while exercising and having to concentrate on finding good footing on the trail, something interesting will catch my eye.  Today was one of those days.  As I was heading up the steep cut-through that runs between clearings I saw a low-bush blueberry blooming, and ticked it off on my "head-list" of blooms for the day: Lance-leaved  Coreopsis - check, Ragwort - check,  Toadflax - check, Blackberry - check, Pasture Rose - check, Blueberry - check - - - it took about two seconds before my subconscious came through and made me do a double-take. “NOT BLUEBERRY,” it said. Then I remembered. The blueberries around here have not only bloomed, but the ones I studied just yesterday along the edge of our woods already have small green berries.  I swiveled on the ball of my foot and walked back to the bush.  Another difference was the size and shape of the open, dangling white blooms. First, it was larger, and second, even though the buds were “bell-shaped,” the fully opened flowers were open wide.   Blueberry blooms are little bells.  Because I was in a hurry (how I hate to be in a hurry!) I snapped off a short piece of a flowering branch and took it home where it waited in a small vase until later in the day, when I (with help from a friend) finally had the time to identify it.  We even hiked back to the bush to make sure. It was  Deerberry - and yes, it's in the vaccinium family with the blueberries.

On the hike down to the mysterious bush, we passed a tree with many small blooms along the stems, at the base of the leaves.  My friend said "Persimmon" and we looked it up, but the small blooms didn’t fit the description in the field guides as being 5/8 “ wide, and solitary.  Solitary?  These blooms were bunched in threes at the base of the leaves and none of the many blooms on the tree were  any larger than about 3/8”.   We climbed up the hill to where I know I've seen a fruiting persimmon in the past to see if it was blooming so we could compare the two trees. It was a tall tree so we had to use binoculars to find blooms. Hmm...  There's one! my friend said. But...  one?  Why only one - and it's bigger, isn't it?  We discussed it at length, until I finally read far enough into the detailed description to learn that it is the female persimmon tree that has the solitary 5/8" blooms, while the male persimmons are “bunched and only 3/8 inch wide.”  Oh! It's a male/female thing!   Mystery solved.  

We suddenly realized we'd spent over three hours wandering around in the woods.  "Almost 6:00?  It can't be!"  I said.  We rushed back to the house so I could clean up enough to go out to dinner at 6:30. On the way we found two more trees behind my house that we couldn't identify, but once again, I was in a hurry.  Those trees will have to wait for another day.  

So many mysteries, so little time!

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