Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Fruits & Seeds

I must admit that Autumn is my favorite season!  After the blistering summer heat and before the cold of winter, I delight in the cooler fall temperatures.  I also enjoy the riot of color that explodes in plants--their leaves, fruit and seeds.  Below are photos that I took in mid-September but didn't get a chance to post until now.

Several people have commented to me that the pearl-like berry clusters of the American Beautyberry plant (also called American mulberry) are amongst their favorite fall colors.  Spaced at intervals along the stems, these vivid purple berries are a food source to a variety of wildlife--birds and squirrels (not too good for people, though!)
Volunteer Larry Lewis pointed out this gorgeous strawberry bush plant, a native perennial shrub we have planted outside the Goodson House on our Museum grounds. (Thanks, Larry!)  In September and October, the spiky strawberry-colored seed capsule will burst open revealing bright reddish-orange seeds:
In the fall, persimmon trees are loaded with fruit which are extremely (and I mean extremely!) bitter until they fully ripen usually after the first frost.  At which point, a tree might be stripped clean almost overnight by opossums--who dearly love this tantalizing fruit!:
Do you know what fruit is pictured in this next photo?  Don't let the leaves fool you--they're from another plant (columbine)!  Hint:  it grows from a type of vine:
Did you guess passion vine fruit?  There are many species of passion vine--I believe this one is Passiflora incarnata, a hardy species native to the southeastern United States.  The plant's leaves are food for Gulf fritillary caterpillars. The fruit is edible and was consumed by early American colonists as well as Native Americans.  In the photo below you see its lovely purple flower--being pollinated by a bumblebee:
And finally, in our Virginia Garden, the fall harvest included corn, cucumbers, and figs--many thanks to our hard-working Horticulture staff and Volunteers!:
More "off the beaten path" in two weeks!

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