It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Malus Fusca

Evil (malus) and dark (fusca) seems to be a rather glum moniker for this lovely Pacific Northwest native. Commonly known as Pacific Crabapple. Even crabapple seems a poor autograph for such an ambrosial and faithful vernal season intermediary.

Always to be counted on to burst into bloom and perfume the air once spring is well under way but not yet fully mimicking midsummer days.

It has proved to be a sure phenological event to gage when to plant our squash and pumpkin seeds in the pasture. Though we still chose to put down floating row cover because we were getting some terrential downpours keeping the water level rather high in the pumpkin patch this year rendering the soils a little chillier than in other places in the higher gardens.

According to a visitor to the Farm shortly after Dirt and I arrived (twenty-four years ago), Malus fusca was used by many of the old farmers in the area as root stock on which they grafted their favorite apple trees.
The frequent afternoon visitor grew up coming to this very homestead with his mother to meet up with Sam Sorenson and ride with him into the tradingpost at the Roy-Y. His advice and story telling was quickly taken as fact by Dirt and I, as he informed us he was Fred Guske who resided "on Guske Road of course."
Malus is the Latin name for the apple family and therefore Malus fusca can serve as a suitable root stock and this particular malus even more so, because it actually prefers the wet soggy soils we often have in this area.

Upon a first glance and quick sniff, Malus fusca can be confused with another Pacific Northwest native, Philadephus lewisii. Yet a proper gaze and a deep, closed eye, nasal breath, quickly separates the two.

Philadephus lewisii, commonly known as Mock Orange is not fake anything. It is stunningly white, with a deep and quenching fragrance. It blooms just days behind Malus fusca during a warm spring, its buds are pristine white and when the buds unfurl they have only four petals rather than five.

The fragrance of Malus in the damp lands is bright and lively, an interesting contrast to some of our other truly dark scents found there. But very different from the fragrance of our native dry ground loving Philadelphus which can be entirely heady on a good hot late spring day as it rises up to the second story window, intoxicating the breather and sure to cause daydreams and long flights of fancy, cured only by the reality of the day having passed and a motorsickle, with a weary teacher driving it, coming home.
Besides the dream inducing fragrance and the four petals, our Philadephus friend differs from out Malus friend in trunk and branch.

Our Malus friend's bark is rough and deeply fissured, separating into an intense weave and slub pattern.

And the branches hold what an uniformed mind (like mine) sees as thorns but are really spurs from which come the flowers and then fruit. But unlike the fruiting buds on my friendlier more domesticated malus (Malus domestica in fact) in the orchard, these are hard and sharp so my confusion is understandable.

So I leave you this afternoon Dear Reader to go plant some corn, because my Malus fusca assures me, better than any weatherman, that my corn seed will not rot and so I need to get out and get it in the ground. But I leave you with one more image of Malus fusca, one I messed with (more than the usual light enhancing) on Photoshop. Can you guess what I did to it?

Have a terrific day and I'll be seeing you bright and early tomorrow morning.
Oops, I nearly forgot, go see all sorts of other beautiful flowers all around the world that God designed at Today's_Flowers.


Leora said...

Is that last photo the one you "messed with"? It's lovely. I love the accent of the pale green.

Yes, malus is a strange adjective for a lovely spring flower.

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

The name certainly doesn't fit the beauty of the plant, does it? I guess one can't judge a plant by it's latin name. [big grin]

It is *still* raining here! We must be getting some of y'alls moisture this week. It's nice, but gosh, we need a break now. I miss going riding. [sigh]

Darla said...

Very nice!

Mildred said...

What pretty, delicate blooms you have shared. Wish I could smell the fragrance. Further north of Sparky, here in GA, we are getting rain showers too. I'm grateful not to have to water the plants!
Enjoy your Monday.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

What an interesting post. I don't think I realized there was a Pacific crabapple. It's white flowers are beautiful. It's perfect planting weather outside today!

fishing guy said...

Lanny: Those are certainly beautiful captures of the little blooms.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

we had a crabapple tree when my kids were young and we were stationed in maryland. it was beautiful and the kids loved to play with the crabapples when they formed, they had all sorts of games with them...

smiles, bee

Susie said...

Very nice Lanny!

Cliff said...

Yes, our crab apple is easily the showiest plant on the farm. It's become a very large specimen and is always pure white this time of year. I hope to remember to post a pic.
Thanks for the pics.

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for sharing your trees and bushes in bloom! They are lovely! Thanks for your visit! Have a great week!

Regina said...

What a beautiful post!

Arija said...

Nothing like an apple to give you sage advice. Nice post with great photos.

Small City Scenes said...

Great pictures, interesting story. Now I am ready to plant because I, too live in this great soggy PNW. MB

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

So pretty!
yep, it's garden planting time... I've been getting mine in the last few days. Only a couple things left to get planted.
Have a good day!

Daisy said...

Lovely blossoms, Lanny. I can almost smell them from here. :)