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Archive for the ‘Family: Rose’ Category

This sturdy weed has been growing along the path on my way to work – first seen in June but is still growing now at the end of July. I identified it as the rough-fruited cinquefoil, a member of the Rose family and introduced from Europe. The Latin name is Potentilla recta, “recta” meaning “erect”, to distinguish it from the common cinquefoil, which has prostrate stems. “Cinquefoil” has the word “cinque” in it, which in French means 5 because the plant has radially 5-parted leaves.

Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil, Boston, MA in June

The flowers are pale yellow in a flat terminal cluster and large (1/2-1 inch). The plant is hairy, very leafy and many-branched. You can see that it’s growing in a gravel-ly, sandy place by the road, and for some reason the lawn-mowers missed it so I can enjoy it every day on my way to and from work!

Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil, Boston, MA in June

 

 

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This year’s spring has been beautiful – it started earlier than usual so we’ve been able to enjoy the spring flowers for longer. My favorite thing this time of year is seeing the flowering trees. There are magnolias, dogwoods and cherry trees. The magnolias have all finished blooming, but the cherry trees seem to hold on to their flowers for longer. This year, they have hit their peak bloom in April, whereas last year it was early May that they were at this stage.

Cherry Tree, The Fens, Boston, MA in April

 

The cherry tree’s genus is Prunus and it is in the rose family (not surprising when you see the rose-like flowers). Cherries have trunk bark with numerous cross streaks and buds with many scales. The whitish flowers are in long grape-like clusters cherries are always thornless. The leaves sticks and seeds from cherry trees often contain hydrocyanic acid, which makes the crushed twigs smell a little sour and if ingested, can make cattle or horses sick (or kill them). The fruit of the cherry tree is important to birds and mammals for food.

There are several species of cherry tree, but many of them are ornamental and not native to the U.S. The main way that the book I use distinguishes among species, “A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs” by George A. Petrides, is to look at the bark, the leaves, and the placement of the flowers. Is the bark rough and dark or smooth? Are the leaves sharp-toothed or blunt? Egg-shaped or narrow?  Are the flower clusters umbrella-like or in long clusters?

Cherry Tree Leaves, Boston

You can see that this cherry tree’s leaves have egg-shaped sharp-toothed leaves, with teeth that are so small they are almost hair-like. They are red underneath and green on top. I don’t know what type of cherry tree this is, but I know it’s good to sit under and read on sunny days and watch the birds fly from tree to tree.

Cherry Tree, Boston, MA

The flowers are quite showy and have not fallen off yet, despite the heavy winds the other day.

Cherry Tree Flowers, Boston, MA (April, 2012)

Cherry Tree Flowers, Boston, MA April

 

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This wildflower looks like a tuft of cotton on a stick.  I came across meadowsweet in May in Sweden.

Meadowsweet (Älggräs), Sweden

  • Latin name:  Filipendula ulmaria
  • Swedish name: Älggräs.  Literally ‘Elk grass’.
  • Grows in damp places (marshes, fens, swamps, wet meadows, woods)
  • Native to Europe and western Asia
  • member of the Rose family
  • fragrant
  • it has been used to spice beer (mead) and for herbal tea
  • contains salicylic acid (a pain killer, found in aspirin)
  • used in midsummer and wedding celebrations

 


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Chaenomeles speciosa

Flowering Quince, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

After quite a bit of flipping through photos, I finally identified what this beautiful flowering shrub was by the side of the highway in Chapel Hill, NC.  Thanks to the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s website (http://www.ncbg.unc.edu) I found what was in bloom and matched it to my photograph.

These bright red blossoms with a showy yellow center are flowers growing from a Flowering Quince, or Chaenomeles speciosa.  Originally from Eastern Asia, they are members of the rose (Rosaceae) family.  This may be what is commonly known as the Texas Scarlet variety.  Apparently I caught it at the right time, because this plant only blooms for about 2 weeks and then spends the rest of the year as a thorny mess.

It turns out that C. Speciosa is also, like the magnolia tree, used in traditional Chinese medicine.  The fruit has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that have been used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.  One source from Wikipedia claims that the plant’s glucosides also serve as a potent selective dopamine reuptake inhibitor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaenomeles_speciosa).

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