Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's going to get cold tonight but it's still a good time to look at fruit capsules

Trochodendron aralioides, The Wheel Tree, is a cool Asian evergreen shrub/small tree. It is curious botanically because, unlike virtually all the rest of the angiosperms, it lacks vascular elements in its wood. Instead of moving water and minerals through vessels made up of these elements, it uses tracheids (another specialized type of xylem cell).

I like it because it's a wonderfully textural evergreen and it has these odd seed capsules. The flowers aren't especially exciting but these follicles. Goodness! The same plant I photographed this week was, in 1990, the first Trochodendron I ever saw. It's still under 15 feet tall a handsome shrub, the mass of it has a nice balanced feel. Not sculptural, but a nice element in the tapestry of winter green in the Japanese Woodland.

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