Did you ever think about the word pitch? When I was surfing around to learn more about gummosis, I ran across a phrase that made me wonder about the etymology of pitch.
Whoa… let’s back up… Gummosis. Last winter, I found this Black Cherry that was covered with goo. There was also a little critter stuck in the goo… but that’s a story for another time:
I threw the pictures up on Flickr and got some responses that must have satisfied my curiosity I guess… because I forgot all about it.
Until recently when I saw this goo on a cherry tree… again. Amazingly, I remembered the word “gummosis” and looked it up:
Gummosis is a general, nonspecific condition of stone fruits (peach, nectarine, plum and cherry) in which gum is exuded and deposited on the bark of trees. Gum is produced in response to any type of wound, regardless of whether it is due to insects, mechanical injury or disease. (source)
You can imagine that fruit growers will be on the lookout for this symptom indicating that something is attacking their trees! In the case of Black Cherry, it is the timber folks who are concerned as gummosis can reduce the value of the harvest by as much as 90% (source).
In the case of this most recent discovery of gummosis, it was on the same cherry tree as the Black Knot I wrote about previously. So in this case, it is a fungus causing the tree to produce the pitch…
Oh yeah, pitch! Let’s get back to the word pitch… In one of the sources I read (which I can no longer find, of course) the author suggested that the tree produces the gum in an effort to pitch out the intruder. Pitch to pitch out the intruder… That’s when I started thinking about the word…
It’s a noun… it’s a verb… It is used in lots of totally unrelated ways… Before you check out the following websites all about the word “pitch”, you could play this party game: See who can come up with the most uses of the word!
Some words are just so good that you just have to use them for lots of purposes…