Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Blooms at Beidler

Tomorrow is the official beginning of spring, but the plants at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest have already gotten a jump on the season. Some of the earlier bloomers have been noted previously in this blog. Today, we found some more blooming plants as we searched for a Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) that was a suitable distance away from our other specimen trees, which will be used in the Envirothon Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/tree identification lesson that we are developing.

Some of the Flowering Dogwoods are indeed flowering along with Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). We also found Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens) already with blossoms and fruit from last season alongside Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea). The Yellow (Tulip) Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), the Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), Horse Sugar (Symplocos tinctoria) (white flower in image below), the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) are some of the trees currently in flower.

The Eastern Redbud is also known as the Judas-tree. From A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina (R. Porcher and D. Rayner): Redbud is one of the most popular native trees in cultivation. It is an understoroy tree whose trunk is too small to be commercially important. The flowers have an acidlike flavor and are put into salads. Also, the flower buds can be pickled. The buds, flowers and young pods are good when fried in butter or made into fritters.

The common name, Judas-tree, is sometimes transferred to the eastern redbud from the related species of the Mediterranean (Cecis siliquastrum), the tree on which Judas hanged himself. Legend states that the flowers were white but turned to red either with shame or from the drops of blood shed by Jesus.

Images by Mark Musselman

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