Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unidentified Hawthorn

Blue Jay Barrens is not a place where you are likely to find trees and shrubs growing in their traditional forms.  Most bear visual expressions of their struggle to survive in the dry shallow soil that typifies this area.  This Hawthorn is an excellent example of a plant surviving despite some terrible hardships.  It has been here longer than I have, but it never seems to get any larger.  Its failure to produce flowers and the resulting fruits has made it impossible for me to be positive of its species.

The lichens have pretty much covered the trunk and older branches.  There aren’t many woody plants that avoid becoming the base for a lichen colony.  I’ve not noticed that the lichens do any harm to their hosts.

The branches are an excellent show of the ravages of disease and pestilence.  How many different afflictions can one plant suffer?  There are cracks, swellings, pits, lesions, deformities and shriveled leaves in abundance.

This is not an example of healthy growth.  To look at it, you would think that the shrub was dead or at least in its last season.

A closer examination reveals a legion of healthy buds ready to bring forth a new bounty of fresh green leaves next spring.  The new leaves will bring a sense of normalcy back to the Hawthorn, at least for a time.  As summer progresses, the new growth will be attacked.  By fall it will look as it does now.

I don’t know how long this clump of Hawthorns can keep up its cycle of vigor and despair.  Flower buds appear each spring, but if they open at all, the flower is almost unrecognizable.  I just keep hoping that one good flower will produce one good fruit, so I can have that information to help with my identification.  Maybe next year.

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