Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Perversity of Plants

One of Pawpaw's pieces of advice that launched this blog was to record things I wanted to remember.

The last three days or so have been spent "cruising" for hawthorn specimens that might be sources of scionwood.  I can attest to  the perversity of plants; the most intriguing specimens always seem to be growing in the most vigorous patches of poison ivy.

Heavily fruiting selections on Gale Road just north of Ferris Road on the east side of the road.

I-496 corridor through Lansing.  Crataegus crus-galli mass plantings along north side and in Cedar/Larch clover-leaf.

Crataegus mollis leaves shredded by disease.  August 13.
Specimen on left, species not known. C. mollis (defoliated) on right.  Near corner of Wilcox and Bellevue in Hamlin Township.  Specimen tagged with plastic top from a six-pack tied to a limb.
First hawthorn east of corner of  Bellevue and Wilcox.  Tentatively identified as Crataegus succulenta.  Trunk impressively thorny.
Typical Crataegus punctata leaves.  Holibough Road, 1.5 miles north of Springport, Michigan, west side of road.
Crataegus punctata thorns

Crataegus punctata is not named for holes punched in your hide by the fearsome thorns but for the dots (like punctuation marks) on the fruit.  Leaves are held up in a perky attitude from twigs, almost like horse ears swiveling to find the source of a noise.  Leaves have a few, small lesions and good foliage retention.

This species has a lot of potential.  Fellow in the Ukraine is doing breeding work with them.

A specimen, presumably Crataegus arnoldiana, on the Michigan State University campus approximately 80 yards west of Jenison Fieldhouse. Clean leaves.  Moderate number of thorns.  Fruit ripe and falling.  A squirrel informed me that it was pleasantly tart, slightly juicy and with hints of Juneberry flavor in the seeds.
Crataegus phaenopyrum, not native to Michigan but heavily planted.
This has been a test winter for rain and the leaf diseases that thrive in wet conditions.  We have had rain at least once a week all summer.  I even have a log of poplar that is throwing sprouts.  The log is not resting on the ground.  Rather, it is sitting on branches and other wood trash about 2" above the ground.  The sprouts are about 15" tall and still growing, leaves are unfurling.  And this is almost mid-August.

So this is a good year to sort through specimens for leaf health.

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