You would think that eventually your walk over familiar paths would offer up nothing but the familiar… but such is not the case… there is always something new for observant eyes. For me, yesterday, it was a shrub.
I followed the trail I have walked hundreds and hundreds of times looking for spring wildflowers in the places I know they will eventually appear. I wasn’t finding much… Leaves… but nothing blooming… I decided to walk as far as the little dribble of a creek that has a sunny, protected bank where flowers often bloom earlier than in the rest of the woods… There might be Spring Beauties, or maybe even some violets?…
No such luck (at first)… But there was a wonderful moss-covered log creating a bridge of sorts over the creek!
While I was taking several dozen pictures of the moss, something caught my eye a little further upstream… A shrub covered with yellow-green blossoms… rather fragrant yellow-green blossoms!
I surfed around, read what few books I have laying around at home and learned these things:
- The bark is very tough and was reportedly used by Native Americans for a variety of things, including the weaving of baskets.
- The berries are narcotic. (another source says “toxic”)
- Deer won’t eat it – according to one source… and another source says both deer and moose eat it…
I think I want some of these at Audubon in our Native Woodland Wildflower garden… Wouldn’t that be cool?
After photographing the Leatherwood for quite some time, I turned to head back up the path and noticed the bank of the creek was covered with Spring Beauties. I swear they weren’t there when I first arrived. They must have bloomed while I was otherwise occupied, right?
- Dave’s Garden
- USDA Plant Database (has a picture of the fruit, too)
- University of Connecticut Horticulture Page
- Kurt Schulz – Southern University of Illinois Edwardsville