Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paliurus hemsleyanus...a curious small tree from China (Seurat's take)

I keep finding plants in China Valley that amaze me. Well maybe not amaze, but these are weird fruits! Hey, I see them described as drupes in various sources. I have my doubts; the drupes we are most familiar with are peaches, almonds, nectarines, etc. A drupe has a leathery covering (exocarp), a fleshy middle (mesocarp), and a hard interior (endocarp) surrounding one seed. These umbrellas are not typical drupes but they are cool!

The plant itself is a medium sized tree growing slightly up from the base of a north-facing slope. Its in the Rhamnaceae and is supposed to have stipular spines. I missed them. Krussman (Cultivated Broad Leaved Trees and Shrubs) observes with an exclamation point that they are sometimes absent??? At lunch I interogated George Waters and he mentioned spines on the trunk itself. This will bear more investigation. I guess I will eventually get to know the curious flora of China Valley.

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