Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for January 21st, 2013

Nonagonal possumhaw drupes

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Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

I’m willing to bet that the phrase nonagonal possumhaw drupes has never appeared in print or even occurred to any human mind till now. Possumhaw, already strange, is the common name of a tree, Ilex decidua, that you’ve seen here several times. Drupe is a botanical term that means, in the words of the Macmillan Dictionary, ‘a fruit with a stone surrounded by a soft thick part covered with skin.’ Possumhaw drupes are so small (maybe a third of an inch in diameter) and numerous that most people would call them berries, even though technically they aren’t. As for nonagonal, it means ‘having the shape of a nine-sided polygon.’ I wouldn’t normally associate nonagons with possumhaw drupes because those fruits obviously don’t have nine sides, but my macro lens, which has a nine-bladed diaphragm, imposes nonagons on out-of-focus bright spots, which in this case are the possumhaw drupes beyond the one that’s in focus.

Now that you know all that—or in spite of it—I hope you’ll enjoy the abstract nature of this picture, which I took, like the last two, in Great Hills Park on January 18. And feel free to drop the phrase nonagonal possumhaw drupes into a casual conversation anytime you feel like it.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2013 at 6:20 AM

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