Sunday, 22 September 2019

September Tree, September Flower

There's no telling which tree and flower will grab my attention when I stroll around the Botanic Garden, but here's a tree that I simply hadn't noticed before...

Honey Locust - Gleditsia Triacanthos



It was one of the few trees in the garden that was beginning to show just a touch of autumn colour and it also looked so light and delicate against the blue sky. All its label told me was that it is native to the south-east United States. So I took a few photos.



Although the tracery of branches may look intricate and dainty, that's rather misleading - dainty it ain't! This is a tough and resilient tree capable of surviving in a wide range of environments and in some places being regarded as a horribly invasive species. Here in the UK it's just an attractive small tree requiring very little specialist care.



Most Honey Locust trees have branches equipped with sharp spines which can be long enough and sharp enough to puncture car tyres. I didn't notice any and can't spot them on my photos so I'm guessing that this tree is a cultivar which has been selected for its lack of thorns. 



The areas of bark which I did study had no sign of thorns but had some interesting shades and textures.



All in all it's a bit of an enigma: it looks delicate but is in fact hard as nails - quite literally as its thorns were actually used as nails in the past. In many places it's a popular tree which has fast growth and can be grown in all sorts of climates and on all kinds of soil. However this toughness can also make it an aggressive invader of agricultural land. I suppose you can't please all the people all the time.

But I know I can please at least one reader with my choice of flower this month.


Autumn Crocus - Colchicum Autumnale



The first thing to mention is that this "autumn crocus" is not a crocus at all but a member of the Lily family, whereas the true crocuses belong to the Iris family. Just to confuse things a bit more the common name of the Autumn Crocus is "Meadow Saffron", but it's not the plant that saffron is obtained from; that's Crocus sativus, a member of the crocus family which also flowers in the autumn!



There are in fact several closely related Colchicums, and many hybrids and cultivars, all of which are usually called Autumn Crocus by most gardeners. There are several similar plants growing in various parts of the Botanic Gardens - the Autumn Garden, the Limestone Rock Garden and the Alpine House.



They have a very individual life-cycle in that they burst forth from the soil at a time when everything else in the garden is thinking of shutting down for the winter. Its leaves have appeared in early Spring but they die back and then nothing happens all through summer till it flowers at the last possible moment, bringing a little cheer to the shortening days of September.



All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially to cats, though presumably most pussycats are too intelligent and discerning to try them. A drug is extracted from the plant though, which can be used for the treatment of gout.



The flowers are short-lived and often fall over on to the ground. But even that they do attractively and gracefully.


Take care

23 comments:

  1. A lovely walk in mother nature and the flowers have a beautiful purple color!

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  2. I does look like a crocus, and gosh they are beautiful!

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  3. Walking among nature and seeing all its beauty, priceless!
    Beautiful photos, John.

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  4. That's a pretty colour to see at this time of the year

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  5. That crocus is such a pretty colour for autumn!

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  6. Every time I see Colchicum Autumnale I am reminded that I should buy some for our garden. They look so pretty, and their lovely colour sparkles in this current Indian Summer that we have all been enjoying.

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  7. I live in Texas and I have a honey locust in my back yard. It makes big black bean pods that are a PITA because if you do not scrupulously rake them, next spring the grass is full of seedlings that are almost impossible to pull up or get shed of. Invasive indeed.

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  8. Honey Locust is a gorgeous tree, but as WOL above says you have to be scrupulous in gathering the seeds if you don't want them to germinate everywhere.

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  9. Loved seeing (for my first time) the Autumn Crocus!

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  10. Love the autumn crocus...and I always love the honey locust tree. My mom always said locusts made good fence posts...but we had black locusts...so don't know if that would make a difference. You can go HERE to see some of the thorns. I have a post somewhere with more photos from a different year, different area but apparently I don't have it labeled.

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  11. We don't see such beauty here in desert California.

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  12. Those crocuses are a wonderful colour.

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  13. What lovely photos. When I get the layout of my blog sorted I shall add pictures, although I am only just learning to use a phone camera - long story - see my blog.
    Having no mobile signal is something of a disadvantage. Up here in the Dales it is really beginning to look and feel like Autumn. Our Colchiniums are just appearing.

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  14. I like both flower and tree this month. The colour of the Colchicumsis lovely and the leaves of the Honey Locust an interesting shape and look great in the sunlight:)

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  15. Hi John - fascinating little tree ... I see also known as 'thorny locust' - so not so sweet now! Our trees are turning here ... without having had much rain - we'll be in for an early autumn I guess. Love the Colchicumsis - wonderful colour at this time of year ... cheers Hilary

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  16. I've never seen either of these two beauties. I just learned so much reading this and had the added pleasure of seeing your beautiful photos. Thank you for that.

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  17. I think we have these trees here, they are lovely. I really like reading about the crocus and always wondered about them.

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  18. The trees which are now really dropping their leaves here rapidly are the Silver Birch John.

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  19. The crocus flowers are beautiful!

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  20. I love the colours of autumn crocus.

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  21. The Honey Locust tree looks familiar John. The crocus are gorgeous, beautiful colour. Did not realise they were poisonous, quite often beautiful flowers are ✨

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  22. That's a lovely tree. I've never heard of it before.

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