Monday, May 28, 2007

Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

The wood is treasured. Made into Colonial highboys, tables, desks scratched with the quill pens of Benjamin Franklin, it's smooth orange tones darken with the turn of years. Cherry. And there has always been a kind of mystique with the wood from northern Pennsylvania.

I think of them like endangered animals. They've been hunted relentlessly. Loggers will pluck them out of their stands and not touch the Red Maples, the Beech, the Birch, and the other common neighbors. It's hard for them to hide. Their rough, potato chip-like bark is nearly black among so much tan and grey.

As I sit here, I can think of at least five which have ducked the ax on our mountain land. I plant more now, raising them from tiny whips through the long winters.

I'll keep their secret. I won't tell where they are.

This fellow knows too, but he promised not to tell.

UPDATE: To be fair, I should point out that I am pro-logging. When you don't touch forests, you get very old trees, but overall, the diversity of life drops sharply. You can't imagine the wonderful things that pop up and the animals which flourish when sunlight returns after logging. However, there is a big difference between logging supervised by a forester, and one done as "high grading." High grading happens when you simply go through a forest and grab the best trees and leave the rest. That does great harm. If you approach logging with an overall plan, however, including regeneration, then the overall effect is very positive.

The little red fellow is a Red Eft, the terrestrial form of the Red Spotted Newt. They live 7-8 years on land before turning drab green and returning to the water. Our kids love to catch them!

(This post is for Jade Blackwater's Festival of Trees.)


Terri said...

Jason, I have this mental image of you pressed up against the tree to get that shot - I hope you didn't get splinters, LOL! Ah but it was worth it - two lovely photos. We like the trees :)

Bev said...

I can almost feel that bark from your description!

Jaye Wells said...

I'm feeling very guilty as I look at the cherry armoire that currently houses my TV.

Your friend at the bottom looks like he's up to mischief.

Scott said...

My kid is looking over my shoulder and loves the little orange guy. Good for you, by the way.

Kaycie said...

My entire bedroom suite is built of cherry. It is beautiful but now I feel like I should go to Pennsylvania and find a place to plant trees.

Verilion said...

I love the photo and poetic prose. The photo almost gives the impression you are hugging the tree. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Terri, you're exactly right! I was pressed up against the tree, then trying to get a good depth of field with the aperture.

Bev, it's a very striking tree. Easy to spot once you know it.

Jaye, I've added a bit to the post. No need to feel guilty. :)

Scott, kids LOVE red efts. They come out in force after it rains. Nothing eats them due to some kind of chemical in their skin. Because of that, they're very bold.

Kaycie, if the cuttings are done well with excellent specimens left alive to serve as seed trees, harvesting them is fine.

Verillion, I love how distance and height comes across with a photo done that way.

Anonymous said...

A guy I went to highschool with was a woodworker, youngest in the BC woodworker's club by 25 years at the time, and I remember once he paid $60 or so fo a fairly small piece of cherry wood. He was pretty excited about it, I remember.

mermaid said...

I'll have to relearn all the things I have forgotten about plant and animal species as my little one grows. Till then, I'll have to learn from you.

angel said...

what a cool post, i do love trees...