Small white flowers Oregon

Wildflower of the Week #3 - Boy or girl?

Indian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis

For those among us that only measure the worth of something by its utility to humans, this shrub is probably only, at best, to be admired for its racemes of white pendulous flowers, that are unfurled as small white flags--as both to mark the surrender of winter as well as to herald in the arrival of spring. In bloom its drooping, one centimeter wide, greenish white flowers emerge just ahead of its new, fresh, leaves. Yet these green leaves still often break bud a couple of weeks ahead of the otherwise still naked stems of other surrounding deciduous trees and shrubs.

The origin of the first part of the scientific name is a bit obscure. Most likely “Oemleria” is for Herr Oemler of Dresden, Germany who supplied American plants specimens to another German botanist, H.G.L. Reichenbach in the mid-1800s. (Others say it’s for August Oemler, without explanation, possibly an astronomer?) Indian Plum’s former generic name, “Osmaronia”–found in older natural history or botanical texts, comes from the Greek osme for “fragrant” and “Aronia” which is but another Rosaceous genus.

Indian PlumHowever, the character of the “fragrance” of this plant’s foliage and flowers is somewhat a matter of personal opinion. While the odor of fresh cucumber often comes to my mind, one less generous author describes it as between “watermelon rind and cat urine”.

The species epithet “cerasiformis” meaning cherry-shaped, well describes Indian’s plums small fruit that does resemble a small, slightly off-centered cherry, containing a prominent stone pit surrounded by a very thin layer of flesh or fruit. This fruit’s thin skin turns a dull orange, but then finally blue-purple when it is fully ripe. But although non-poisonous, even when ripe, these thin fruited plums tastes quite bitter--and thus are best left for the robins and waxwings, than to be tasted by ourselves. Perhaps for this reason, and despite its name, there is little mention of “Indian Plum” in various anthropological references of its being of any particular historical importance to the Indians as a food source.

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Course Four and Five

2004-04-30 15:23:40 by Eshta

There were some great people at this dinner, btw, like the three fabulous older women across from us who were very artistic and worldy. They had been friends for a very long time, wore enormous natural stone jewelry and flowers in their hair... laughed easily and absolutely adored food and wine. I loved sharing a table with them.
By this time the noise level was rising. All the while Patty talked about her wines and answered questions with grace, a great deal of knowledge and an incredible sense of humor. She told great stories about her life and how she got to where she was now, loves beer too and is not at all pretentious

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