Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lemonade, as promised

Plenty of flowering branches are available now for cutting from the upstart Hamamelis virginiana sprouts which are now taking over. The bright yellow of the flowers makes a nice contrast to the sooty fireplace, doesn't it?  And they are scented: later this evening I’ll check to see to what extent this scent has filled the fire place room.

This plant is an example of what is sometimes called cauliflory: the flowers seem to spring directly from the branches of the tree. The local redbud provides another example.

The four crinkled petals of these flowers give them a very distinct appearance. During freezing weather, these petals will curl up and more or less disappear. When the weather moderates, they un-curl but retain their crinkles.  

At this time of year hikers sometimes come upon plants of this, the only Hamamelis native in this area, in full bloom. That’s probably the only time of year anyone notices it much. But a small, bushy tree in full, fragrant  bloom on a sunny, warmish late October or November day is reason enough to take a break from the hiking and enjoy the color, scent and the late autumn sunshine. If you have planned ahead, you'll have a nice tart apple to enjoy at the same time. 

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