Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What are those White Flowers?

Dogwood blooms on a tree at McMurphy Park in Vader.

Driving around the area this week, residents could not help but notice the explosion of white blooms on everything from shrubs to full grown deciduous trees and they had to ask, what are those white flowers?
There are actually two answers. The most known of the two is the Pacific Dogwood. Small flowers congregate in dynamic groups and present what appears to be large elongated blooms on the outer and upper limbs of the tree. As spring breezes blow, some might look outside and swear it was snowing as the pedals of the flowers drop daintily to the ground below.

Close-up of a Dogwood bloom.

The Dogwood is unique among the Western Washington hardwoods that grow among the big Douglas fir, Western cedar and Sitka spruce. It can carry out maximum photosynthesis under one-third of the needed sunlight.
A bloom on a Servicebery bush in Winlock.

In second place in the blooming competition this week is the Serviceberry. It is considered a bush but can grow from a few feet upwards to 20 feet tall. It has smaller clusters of blooms than the Dogwood and the pedals of the pure white flowers are slender as opposed to the more rounded counterparts of the Dogwood.
Serviceberry is well known as a supplier of good, edible berries for Native American peoples as well as today. Pioneers without modern day earth moving equipment used the Serviceberry as a calendar. It is said that in colder climates, the emergence of the leaves coincided with the thawing of the ground. Hence, burial “services” could be held for those that passed during the winter.

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