Tuesday, May 27, 2008

White sweet May again*

A gentle breeze has been slowly dropping the petals of our neighbor's black locust into our pond. I love the snow-shower effect of it in late May and their fragrance is so wonderful on a humid day like today. No wonder the bees and hummers are drawn to it - there must be some sweet nectar inside the flowers!

I'd hoped for a close-up pic, but it's too tall. This gives you an idea, though, of why I like these weedy trees so much... the afternoon sun glimmers among the branches, full of late May light, and the flowers dance in the air. They're somehow related to wisteria - can you see that in the pendulous flowers? Plus they have similar pinnate leaves, but locusts have thorns, too. Especially thorny are the young ones that like to come up everywhere in our lawn. They're one of the very few trees that I can reliably ID at all seasons; their bark is dark and deeply furrowed and they tend to grow in waste places, in old fields, along the roadside. Like other members of the pea family, black locusts fix nitrogen in the soil which makes it possible for them to grow in the poor soil found in those places.

I learned something new from Wikipedia about members of the pea family: their leaves fold together at night or in wet weather. I wonder why that might be... anybody know?

*from "The Locust Tree in Flower" by William Carlos Williams


Susan Gets Native said...

Maybe the leaves fold because they are cold? Or maybe they are afraid of the dark?

*I like the scent of locust, too. Do they make a perfume with that scent?

Jayne said...

Your photo conjures up a very heady, sweet smell on the breeze... mmmm.... I can just imagine it.