Friday, March 16, 2007

Indian Plum

The Indian Plum has sent out its leaves and let loose its white blossom chains. Oemleria(named for August Oemler)cerasiformis(cherry shaped) is a common shrub in the Pacific Northwest, the first leafer of Spring. (I googled August Oemler and all I can find(at least going three pages deep), is an astronomer who likes Bootes--an interesting mystery to solve someday.) It grows to about 15', and has separate male and female trees.

The blossoms of Indian Plum, according to the field guide, smell like "a cross between watermelon rind and cat pee"; mine smell like grass--that a cat indeed did pee on. The "plums" are miniature, about 1cm. Supposedly they are sweet when ripe, but the birds love them too, so good luck finding a ripe one. An older name is Osoberry. The native americans ate them raw and cooked, and made a dish for feasts mixing the plums with oolichan(a small fish)grease.

Every year I watch for the Indian Plum. Its new leaves sit upright and are shaped like candle flames, and do indeed glow in the bright sun that comes through the leafless trees. The blossoms are a happy beginning to the long line of wildflowers soon to come. The Indian Plum does seem to transplant well, and grow tall pretty fast if they're in the right spot.


cyndy said...

that is a beautiful shrub, with a lovely blossom (well, even though it does not smell as pretty as it looks....)
I so enjoy reading about what is growing out in your neck of the wood---thanks for such good descriptions, and photographs...

Larry said...

Thanks for an introduction to a plant genus I've never heard of.

Nice photos!