Saturday, April 23, 2016

Desert peach (photos)

I found an interesting flowering chapparal shrub. It looks related to cherryplums. It has fruit tree bark. But it's a native species..... some sort of prunus/ Rosaceae. At first I thought it was a peach. Nope. Wrong continent. People suggested wild plums, peaches, crabapples. These are not garden escapees. Native species. Lots of them.

Think plum family. Serviceberrry? chokecherry? Wrong color blossom (it's really pink, like a Japanese quince, or a peach). It has incredibly tiny ovate leaves, and spines. It must flower first, then get leaves. I saw them on Whitney and Mono Lake too. It grows at 4-7000 ft., Eastern Sierras, Mammoth Lakes, so, it's a Great Basin plant, (high, cold desert) shrub vs. a California plant.

At one point I thought it was Prunus subcordata, Klamath plum, Oregon plum, Pacific plum and Sierra plum, is a member of the genus Prunus, native to the western United States in California and western and southern Oregon. But it did not resemble a plum tree. No thicketing. Very much a dense shrub.

After much deduction, I think it's Desert peach, aka Desert almond (Prunus andersonii) (CalFlora) native to Eastern California and Western Nevada. Not a peach per se, as peaches came from northwest China by way of Persia. But it gets heart-shaped drupes that have flesh in moist years, but are more like almonds in dry years.

My botanist friend Katelin Stuart thought I had enhanced the photo. She said your picture is very pink. When did you take it, morning? Or maybe you enhanced it? Or very good rainfall recently?

Those are all different bushes that grow among the sagebrush. They're really showy, and no, most are afternoon pix. I did not enhance it, Very, very pink, At first I mistook it for redbud, until I saw the flower up close. Then I got excited and went all gaga. It's screaming shake your fist pink, not a shy wallflower. I use my camera as a memory aid, and also as a reference. It's an extension of my eye. Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes get a decent photo as well.

I also found wild desert apricot (prunus fremontii), very close, but it was the wrong range, Desert peach (Prunus andersonii) seems to be it!

Katelin Stuart concurred: Hmmm, possible, especially If yours is growing in with sagebruch and atriplex, it tolerates salt and is in a similar micro-clime. 

It took a Facebook village to ID this plant. 

I saw dogwood in bloom too, on Hwy 80, and on 395, in Walker Canyon. No time to stop. Outrunning the storm.


Katelin Stuart suggested that it was a crabapple. No! I had no idea there were native crabapples. There was a crabapple in my neighbor's gully, I loved eating them. I never considered it a native species. When the land was sold, the new neighbors cut it down. My plant is not an apple, crabby, or otherwise.  

In my search. I found out that wild crabapples are native to North America. In fact they are native to the entire Northern Hemisphere. (I had learned otherwise—apples were brought to the New World by colonists, and scholars erroneously noted European apples originally came by way of China with the peach, which really messed with myriad apple references in Medieval Celtic mythology.)

In North America, there's Malus ioensis, or prairie crabapple (ioensis refers to Iowa). The most common variety, Malus ioensis var. ioensis, is native to the prairies of the upper Mississippi Valley. Another variety, Malus ioensis var. texana, or the Texas crabapple, is native to a tiny region of central Texas. There's even a Southern crabapple, Malus angustifoliaThen there's Malus fusca, native to western North America from Alaska, with a range from British Columbia, to northwestern California. Flowers are white or pale pink. 

From Wiki I found out that Malus is both Classical and genus name for apples... from the Greek. μήλο ΜΗΛΟ, μήλο. (pronounced: meelo). In Homer's time, μήλον did not mean apple, but sheep or goat. The Ancient Greek word μήλον (mēlon), is an English loanword for melon or watermelon. And the word "apple" was also used as a generic term for foreign fruit. That must've been confusing.

In Latin, the words for 'apple' ("mālum") and 'evil' ("mălum") are almost identical. Malum in se (plural mala in se) means wrong or evil in itself. Something deeply sinful or against nature, distinguished from malum prohibitum, which is wrong only because it is prohibited.  —(Wiki)

Es muy mala!

Katelin Stuart said: you can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her partake of it.

added, revised 4/17

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