If You Go Out In The Woods Today…

You’re in for a big surprise.

Well, no you’re not. It is no surprise AT ALL that the human female and Sigyn will take every opportunity offered to go out and snoop around in the forest. No excuse is too small! Sun’s out? Time to botanize! Heard the X was blooming? Let’s go see! It’s a day that ends in “Y”? Grab your hat and sunscreen and water, ’cause we’re headin’ out!

The objective today is to locate a stand of trees that the human female saw last autumn but could not identify. She thinks they might be Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana). The cultivated shrubs of that species are flowering right now, and if she can catch the ones in the woods in flower, she will be able to key them out. (I know what the plant is, but I’m not telling. I’m here just to enjoy my own joke. Well, that and to keep Sigyn from getting lost.)

So here we are, tramp, tramp, tramp, stopping to look at every little thing blooming beside the trail. Come on, woman! I have places to go today; people to annoy. Find your mystery trees, slap a name on ’em, and have done with it!

Odin’s Eyepatch! We’re pausing again! What is it this time? Ah. I see. We have stumbled upon a patch of V.I.V.s.

Very Inviting Violets. These are awfully pale, though.

They are barely lavender. Usually, they’re a good, solid purple.

I agree, my love. They are beautiful, and they do appear to have “little cat whiskers.”

This is rather pretty–we have reached the Great Desolation, A.K.A. the cut that houses the inflow line to the water treatment plant. The morning is just cool enough that we have a nice bit of fog.

I actually like a good fog. You can hide any amount of mischief in it…

And now we’re back in the woods proper. There’s a bit of color in this clearing. Most of it is blue.

But a fair amount is yellow

Or white.

The effect together is very pleasing. Sigyn, make note of where those white flowers are so we can find the plants again later. Unless I miss my guess, they are blackberry flowers. I’m sure the human female could tell us the fancy slanty name for them, but I’d like to offer a new and appropriate common name. Behold, Cobbler Plant! That’s the best thing to do with blackberries.

(a bit later)

Is the human female ever going to find her mystery plants I mischiefied? My tummy clock says we skipped breakfast and it’s time for brunch or lunch or something.

Here we go! They’re not quite where she remembers them being, but we got here eventually.

Ehehehe! Look at her face! She’s completely discombobulated. I broke the botanist!

Come look, Sigyn, and see what’s got her taxonomic knickers in a twist. See the underside of that leaf, where all the rusty brown hairs are?

No? Me neither! Because there ARE NONE!! Ta da!!

So what is this plant? It’s not Carolina laurelcherry. That one has evergreen leaves, and the new, soft growth here means this plant is deciduous. It is also missing the two wet-looking, darkish glands at the base of the leaf. Those are a dead giveaway for P. caroliniana. The leaves aren’t furry, so that rules out Mexican plum. The only reasonable option left is black cherry, Prunus serotina, but that is supposed to have tan hairs on either side of the midrib on the lower surface, and this one is bald as bald can be!

The human female is finding it hard to believe that I would take the time and trouble to remove the hairs on every leaf of every plant of this species in this part of the woods. Oh, mortal, I would go a lot further than that to make you feel stupid, believe me.

Wait–we’re finally going home? Oh, I see. She wants to consult her collection of botanical tomes before either deciding on an identification one way or the other. Sounds good to me. All of this traipsing about in damp woods making the wet hem of my cloak cling around my ankles, so I’m more than ready to leave. I can watch her be confused just as well back at the house.

(later)

Mystery solved and mischief managed. The human female, after consulting the references, has verified that, yes, occasionally, Prunus serotina can have hairless leaves.

Especially when it has a little help…

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