I am taking a tree class. It’s so great! Since it is the fall there are lots of exciting things on trees, like fruit, and those old fruit groupies, birds. Most leaves are still green but I’ll be getting up close and personal while they make their colorful costume changes. For now, some words on these seed bearing wonders. There are about nine types of fruits that grow on trees, ranging from the ever popular acorns and walnuts (which are actual nuts) to the dangling ball on a Sycamore (a multiple of achenes), the helicopters of Maples (samaras) the more traditional fleshy fruit of the Apple (pome) and our buddy the Pawpaw, which is technically a berry. The Persimmon tree fruit is a berry too, and I first learned about it in the winter. Come cold weather, a piece of the Persimmon fruit, or maybe more technically of the flower that produced the fruit, the calyx, can sometimes be found chillaxing on its twig. It is unique for a calyx, which are usually the green around a flower’s petals but on the Persimmon persist as a hard brown 4-petaled-looking ring. I had seen those on rare occasion in my awesome Winter Tree class at the Audubon Naturalist Society, and they were a very reassuring sign alongside the Persimmon’s gator skin bark.
This week my Fall Woody Plant teacher brought in a Persimmon sample to class. With the fruit on! And there was the calyx, already hard and brown, ready to light up the searching eyes of a cold person in a forest of twigs and buds on a winter’s day. For me it was like studying the bones of Lucy and then one day seeing her, excuse my pun, in the flesh.
Thanks to ANS teacher Melanie Choukas Bradley for showing our class this sample!