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Davidsonia Sep 1, 1981

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VOLUME    12 NUMBER    3
Fall 1981
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Catalpa bignonioides, an American
species of the Foxglove Trees.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Kinnikinnick
VOLUME    12
Fall 1981
Davidsonia is published quarterly by The Botanical Garden of The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1W5. Annual subscription, ten dollars.
Single numbers, two dollars and fifty cents, except for special issues. All information concerning subscriptions should be addressed to the Director of The Botanical Garden. Potential contributors are invited to submit articles and/or illustrative material for review by the
Editorial Board.
© 1981 by The Botanical Garden, The University of British Columbia.
A cknowledgements
The pen and ink illustrations are by Mrs. Lesley Bohm, except for that facing page 84, which
is by Mrs. Rachel Mackenzie. The photograph on page 60 is from a color photograph taken
by Mr. Robin Gardner, and that on page 62 was taken by Mr. Derek Munro. The
photographs for Figures 4 to 20 were provided by Dr. Paul Catling. Dr. Nancy Turner of Victoria reviewed the article on Necklaces from Nature. The poem by Elizabeth Gourlay is
reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Gourlay and Caitlin Press, Vancouver.
ISSN 0045-9739
Second Class Mail Registration Number 3313 The Foxglove Trees
The two genera Catalpa and Paulownia have given horticulture some of the most outstanding ornamental
flowering trees that can be grown in the warmer temperate areas of the world. Their flowers, as the title of this
article implies, resemble those of Digitalis, which is closely related to these two genera. Several species
described in this article have been grown with a fair degree of success in the Lower Mainland region of British
Columbia. Catalpa, belonging to the Bignoniaceae, and Paulownia, a member of the Scrophulariaceae, are
closely allied and it has been suggested by Willis (1973) that both genera are close to the point where branching occurred in the ancestral stock that gave rise to these two plant families.
Catalpas, numbering 11 species, are distributed in eastern Asia, north and central America and the West
Indies. In an open situation they develop into widespread bushy-headed deciduous trees. This habit is largely
due to the fact that the leading shoots never form a terminal bud. The young wood is stout and pithy, the
leaves are either opposite or in threes, large and long-stalked. The flowers are produced in panicles, corymbs
or racemes at the end of the current year's shoots. The corolla is bell-shaped at the base with 5 spreading frilled lobes, calyx 2-lipped, stamens 5, only 2 of which as a rule are fertile. Both Catalpa and Paulownia species
leaf very late in the spring.
Three Asiatic species have been introduced, but none has proved superior to the two American species
Catalpa bignonioides and C. speciosa. These species are very effective as specimen trees on a lawn, where
their seasonal form and color can best be appreciated.
Catalpas respond to rich soil conditions preferring a deep moist loam, and an open sunny site, protected
from strong winds One of the finest locations in which I have seen Catalpas growing was in an old quarry,
where the flowering trees could be observed to great effect by looking down onto the countless flower
It is advisable to train the young tree up to 3 m to allow the development of a good main stem. The naturally
spreading habit of the tree can then be allowed to proceed. This develops when the side shoots develop
around the terminal bud, which remains inactive, causing bi- or tri-furcation and encouraging a widespreading
Propagation of Catalpa species is by seed, cuttings, and grafting of cultivars However, young plants derived
from seed generally make more vigorous and long-lived trees. The fruits should be collected when brown and
dry, stored dry at 5°C, and the seed sown in late spring No pre-germination treatments are necessary. Softwood cuttings, 10-15 cm long, may be taken in June, treated with a hormone rooting powder, and planted
under mist with basal heat. Root cuttings, 7.5-10 cm long, may be taken from 1-2 year old roots in January or
February, dusted with a fungicide and planted in a compost of one part each peat, grit and loam.
The most popular Catalpa in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia is the Indian Bean Tree or
Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides Walt), which is often planted in parks and gardens or as a street tree.
It is indigenous to riparian environments in southwestern Georgia, western Florida, and central Alabama and
Mississippi. Catalpa bignonioides makes a tree 7.5-15 m tall, with a rounded, wide-spreading, much branched
head when grown in an isolated situation. The leaves are broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base, 10-25 cm
long, 7.5-20 cm wide, with short slender points, and are sometimes slightly lobed at the sides. The panicles
are broadly pyramidal, 20-25 cm long and wide, and many-flowered. The corolla is 3.8 cm long and wide, and
is frilled at the margin. The tube is bell-shaped, white, with two ridges and 2 rows of yellow spots, and
numerous purple spots on the tube and lower lobe.
* Horticulturist, The Botanical Garden, University of British Columbia, 6501 N W. Marine Drive, Vancouver,
B.C. V6T 1W5
57 This species flowers from mid-July to early August. It is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful flowering
trees grown in the Vancouver area. It has been used as a street tree in the past, a practice that has now ceased
due to its unsuitability for that role, being weak-crotched and prone to decay, plus its ability to produce
masses of debris, notably long, pendant seed-pods and large leaves, which cause street and drain
maintenance problems. A further structural problem with existing trees is a past history of topping that has
greatly disfigured the young developing trees. Subsequent growth has disguised much of the damage caused
by this misguided practice, but it has left a legacy of untreated and rotten cavities within the major branches
and stem, which have weakened the trees structurally and could lead to their final demise. If at all possible,
major branches should not be removed, as the heartwood of this species is very prone to rot. Catalpa
bignonioides is not a long-lived tree, and frequently declines when 40-50 years old. At the nursery stage, the
tree should be trained with a leader from 1.8-2.5 m high, as it is difficult to maintain a leader once branching
has been established.
A very fine yellow-leaved form of the Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa bignonioides cv. Aurea, is well worth
cultivating It retains, if not improves, its yellow hue as the season advances.
Various hybrids have arisen in cultivation between Catalpa bignonioides and the Chinese species Catalpa
ovata, which have been given the name Catalpa X erubescens Carr. The best known form of this cross was
raised by J.C. Teas at Bayville, Indiana, U.S.A., around 1874. The unfolding leaves are purplish, broad-ovate,
cordate, and up to 31 cm long. The flowers are white, stained with yellow and speckled with purple dots. The
individual flowers are smaller than C. bignonioides and not as numerous. The hybrid has shown considerable
vigor in south-central U.S.A., with leaves reaching 61 cm in width and panicles carrying over 300 flowers. This
hybrid can grow in the Vancouver area, but our unreliable summers are likely to reduce the quantity of
flowers produced.
The Chinese species Catalpa bungei CA. Meyer is rare in cultivation. It makes a bushy tree 6-9 m tall,
which makes it a possible choice for a small garden. The leaves are 5-19 cm long, 3.8-11.5 cm wide, ovate or
somewhat triangular, with a wedge-shaped or straightly cut base, sometimes entire, but often coarsely
scalloped. This species flowers rather sparsely in the Pacific Northwest. The white and purple spotted flowers
are produced in groups of 3-12 in a flatfish corymb. It is native to China and is especially frequent in the
neighborhood of Beijing. It should adapt well to the climate of the interior of British Columbia where weather
58 conditions are more continental, allowing better hardening-off of young growth and more reliable flowering.
Another Chinese species, Catalpa fargesii Bureau, is largely unknown in the Lower Mainland area of British
Columbia. It makes a tree 9-18 m high, and is easily identifiable by the velvety branching hairs covering the
shoots, undersurface of the leaves and the inflorescences, which fall away by the end of the season. The
leaves are ovate, straight or slightly heart-shaped at the base, long and taper-pointed, 7.5-15 cm long, and
5-12.5 cm wide. The flowers are 3.8 cm long and nearly as wide, pinkish, spotted in and around the throat
with brownish red, and stained with yellow, and are produced seven to fifteen together in corymbs. The
flowers do much to commend its planting, but its gaunt narrow-crowned habit makes it less desirable than C.
A third Chinese species, Catalpa ovata G. Don, grows well on the campus of the University of British Columbia. It grows vigorously to 6-9 m tall, and in very favorable locations to 14 m, with a spreading head of branches as much or more in diameter. The leaves grow from 12.5-25 cm long on average, and as much wide.
They are broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base. The flowers are held in panicles that are 10-25 cm high, narrowly pyramidal, and are produced in July and August. The corolla is dull white stained with yellow and spotted with red inside, and about 2.5 cm long and wide.
This species is native to China, but has been cultivated in Japan for centuries. It differs from the two
American species by its more conspicuously lobed leaves and smaller flowers, and from C. bungei by the
larger downy leaves and smaller flowers. At the Botanical Garden we grow the cultivar C. ovata cv. Flaves-
cens with flowers even smaller than the type. The whole corolla is suffused with yellow.
The largest Catalpa in stature is C. speciosa Warder ex Engelm., the Western Catalpa, a native of the U.S.A.,
which is found west from the Alleghenies and extends further north in the Mississippi Basin than C.
bignonioides. It makes a tree over 30 m high in favorable localities in the wild, with a tall trunk 3 m or more in
circumference. The leaves are ovate, with a heart-shaped or rounded base and a long tapering point, 12.5-31 cm
long, 7.5-20 cm wide. The flowers are borne in panicles that are 15-20 cm long and rather more wide, with
comparatively few flowers. The corolla is white, and 5 cm long and wide. The tube is bell-shaped, the lobes
spreading and frilled at the margin, the lower one has yellow spots and ridges, but is less freely spotted with
This species differs from C bignonioides in its taller growth, more tapering leaves, the larger fewer flowers
in the panicle, and less profusely purple-spotted corolla. Catalpa speciosa is a pyramidal tree and naturally develops a leader through the tree. This needs to be maintained, especially after transplanting, as transplanting often has a retarding effect on the leader. The wood of this species is much valued in the U.S.A. because
of its extraordinary durability when in contact with moist ground.
Diseases and Insect Pests
Leaf spot is particularly troublesome during rainy seasons. Infection by three fungi, Phyllosticta cataipae,
Alternaria cataipae and Cercospora cataipae, is thought to be initiated by bacterial infection and injury by the
Catalpa Midge. Tiny water-soaked spots, scattered over the leaf, appear in May. These increase in size till
they reach a diameter of 6 mm. If infection is very heavy the whole leaf may fall away prematurely. To control this disease, spray Bordeaux mixture when the leaves unfurl, when half grown, and again when full grown.
The Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides) is extremely susceptible to heartwood decay caused by the
fungus Polyporus versicolor. Polyporus cataipae causes basal trunk decay near the soil line. To prevent these
fungal diseases, avoid wounds and keep the tree in good vigor by fertilizing and watering, particularly in
drought years.
The Catalpa Midge (Cercidomyia cataipae) causes distortion of the leaves, and circular areas inside the
leaves are chewed, leaving a papery epidermis, as a result of infestation by tiny yellow maggots. The adult is a
tiny fly that appears in late May or early June to lay eggs on the leaves. The winter is passed in the pupal stage
in the soil. To control this pest, cultivate the soil beneath the trees to destroy the pupae, and spray in late May
with malathion.
FIGURE 1   Paulownia
Tree, x 0.33
tomentosa.   the    Empress
59 60
The genus Paulownia is closely related to Catalpa, but the 17 species are all confined to Asia.
Their leading characteristics include smooth bark, pithy branchlets, and opposite leaves, which are either
entire or lobed The flowers are borne in 3- or 5-flowered, stalked or almost sessile cymes in the axils of the
fallen leaves, and are produced in the spring from buds developed in the previous year.
Paulownias need a rich soil, preferring a deep light loam with a pH of 6.5-7.5, and a somewhat sheltered
position. Propagation is usually by seed or root cuttings, although greenwood and leaf cuttings have also
been used. The fruits should be collected when dry and the seed sown in the spring in a flat or an outdoor
seed bed, shaded with saran cloth. Root cuttings may be taken as described for Catalpa.
The rather tender species Paulownia fortunei (Seem.) Hemsl. is rare in cultivation in North America, but
would be worth more planting in Oregon and California. It is found wild in south and southeast China, Taiwan
and Indo-China, where it reaches 26 m tall in favorable situations. In North America, half this height is more
common. The striking leaves are ovate, 14-25 cm long, 7-12.5 cm wide, acuminate at the apex, and cordate at
the base. The cymes are mostly three-flowered and are in the form of a narrow panicle. The calyx is funnel-
shaped and about 2 cm long. The corolla is funnel-shaped, lavender-purple in the bud and retaining that color
on the outside, but white or creamy-white inside and heavily spotted with dark purple, 9-10 cm long and
about 5 cm wide at the mouth.
Young plants raised from seed, like all Paulownia, display great vigor, producing 0.9-1.25 m of soft growth
per year, but are heavily damaged if planted out as 2-3 year old saplings. This underlines the importance of
giving winter cover until the young trees have reached 1.8-2.5 m, by which time the stems will have had a
chance to become woody.
The Empress Tree, Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud. (Figures 1, 2), is the best known of all the
Paulownias It is a native of China, but was introduced from Japan where it has been in cultivation for centuries. It makes a round-topped deciduous tree, 9-15 m high, with thick stiff branches and a rather open habit.
This habit encourages the development of vertical water-shoots, which arise from the main lateral limbs. As
the specific name implies, all young growth is more or less downy. The leaves are opposite with the larger
ones 3- and 5-lobed. Leaf dimensions are very variable; on a mature tree, they are 12.5 25 cm long and wide,
dark green with scattered hairs above, and covered beneath with a soft, greyish wool. The panicle is terminal,
and up to 30.5 cm long. The flowers form during the fall, but do not open until the following May. The corolla
is blue-purple, 3.5-5 cm long, and shaped like a huge foxglove. The flowers have a delicate sweet fragrance.
Few more beautiful flowering trees than this exist, but although the tree is fairly hardy and sets its flowers,
they often fail to develop in the coastal areas of British Columbia. The alternating frosty and mild spells of
FIGURE 2. Paulownia tomentosa, photographed in
April on Point Grey Road on the south side of
English Bay, Vancouver our winters often kill the developing flower buds. The tree can be treated as a herbaceous foliage plant by
cutting the plant down to near ground level each year and encouraging the most vigorous new shoots, but
feeding and watering are necessary. Well-grown plants can produce sturdy stems 3.5 m tall and leaves between 60-90 cm in width in one season.
During Wilson's final expedition for the Arnold Arboretum in 1907-1908, he found P. tomentosa growing in
the wild in western Hubei and sent seeds back under his number W. 769. This form has proved to have a more
vigorous constitution, attaining greater dimensions and is longer-lived than those in general cultivation. It
appears there is considerable regional variation in this species, and it is likely that hardier and more floriferous forms may be obtained in the wild.
A closely related species, Paulownia lilacina Sprague, differs from P. tomentosa mainly in its unlobed
leaves and lilac flowers, which are pale yellow in the throat.
A recently introduced species from western China is P. fargesii Franch. It is claimed to be the finest species
of the genus, making a sizable tree up to 25 m high, with a large rounded head, coming into bloom at an early
age. It is deciduous with large leaves often 45 cm broad, and it bears its flowers in erect panicles. The tubular
flowers are purple, speckled in the throat with deep purple and with a creamy-yellow basal stain. They emit a
delicious warm Eastern fragrance. This species appears to be better suited to our west coast climate and
should be propagated and distributed more widely in the Pacific Northwest region.
Two new Paulownia species, P. kawakamii and P. taiwaniana, have recently been received from the Taiwan
Forestry Research Institute and are being grown at The Botanical Garden. Hopefully, they will be distributed
more widely in the Pacific Northwest in due course.
Diseases and Insect Pests
Two species of fungus, Ascochyta paulowniae and Phyllosticta paulowniae, cause leaf spot in Paulownias
in very rainy seasons. To control this pest, the fallen leaves should be burnt and preventative sprays containing copper or dithiocarbamate fungicides can be used on valuable trees in exceptionally wet seasons.
The fungi Polyporus spraguei and Polyporus versicolor are constantly associated with wood decay in
Paulownias. As recommended with Catalpa, feeding and watering to keep the trees healthy and vigorous is
The Foxglove Trees should always be borne in mind by landscape architects, landscapers and gardeners
when a spacious sheltered sunny location requires a summer flowering tree with fine distinctive foliage. I
have considerable reservations about the suitability of these trees for use as street trees, because their
widespreading low crowns often interfere with service wires, there is a problem with debris in the form of
leaves and fruiting bodies clogging drains and contributing to slippery road conditions in the fall, and, lastly,
their susceptibility to basal stem rot, a fault that is particularly serious where vehicular contact is a constant
danger. However, this group of plants will always have a place in large public and private gardens, as they
provide color and interest throughout the year.
Bean, W.J. 1980. 8th ed. rev. Trees and Shrubs hardy in the British Isles. Vol. I. A-C. John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., London,
in collaboration with The Royal Horticultural Society.
 1976 8th ed rev Trees and Shrubs in the British Isles. Vol. III. N-Rh. John Murray (Publishers) Ltd. , London.
Brown, G.E. 1972. The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. Faber and Faber, London.
Heywood, V.H., Consulting Ed. 1978. Flowering Plants of the World. (1st American edition). Mayflower Books, New York.
Hillier Nurseries. 1974 4th ed. Hillier's Manual of Trees and Shrubs (2nd impr, 1978). Hillier Nurseries (Winchester) Ltd.,
Romsey. Hants
Mitchell, A. 1974 A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. William Collins Sons & Co., London
Pirone, P.P. 1978. 5th ed. Tree Maintenance. Oxford University Press, New York.
Sargent, C.S. 1922. 2nd ed Manual of the Trees of North America (exclusive of Mexico). Republication in 1961 (1965) by
Dover Publications Inc., New York, in two volumes.
Willis, J.C, 1973. 8th ed. A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns. Revised by H.K Airy Shaw. Cambridge University
Press, London
61 Stachys cooleyae Heller —
A Hummingbird Flower?
Hummingbird-pollinated flowers are usually red to mauve in color and tubular in shape, with a length and
diameter suited to the beaks and tongues of these birds. In 1979 I collected live specimens of Stachys
cooleyae Heller in southwestern British Columbia for study in Ottawa.
The size, shape, and purple-red color of the flower led us to believe that Stachys cooleyae may be
pollinated by hummingbirds. The tubular corolla of each flower averages 15-20 mm in length, with basal nectaries secreting a sweet-tasting colorless liquid that collects at the base of the tube. Four stamens are exserted
before the single stigma, and the anthers are held against the upper lip. This would allow pollen to be placed
on top of a hummingbird's beak.
I took some plants to my home and planted them in a flower bed frequented by hummingbirds. I was quickly
rewarded with visits by both a male (Figure 3) and female Ruby-throated Hummingbird foraging for food.
Several flowers were visited on each inflorescence. Further visits occurred over the next few days, suggesting
a continued production of nectar by the flowers.
These observations would imply that Stachys cooleyae is pollinated by western hummingbirds throughout
the range of the species. If any reader could confirm this hypothesis, I would be most interested in receiving a
short note on visits by hummingbirds to these plants.
FIGURE 3. A male Ruby-throated
Hummingbird feeding at the inflorescence of Stachys cooleyae.
* Mr. Derek B. Munro, Biosystematics Research Institute, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6 Necklaces from Nature — Seed Jewelry
"Jewels, my pretties! Beads to adorn you!!". Bracelets, baubles and necklaces — from time immemorial
men and women have sought to ornament themselves by hanging, piercing or pinning jewelry to their bodies.
The original jewelry was made from materials easily obtained, and although gold, silver and copper have
always had something of an edge, jewelry made from seeds and plant parts share a part of the market, even
today in our North American stores. Initially those red, black, orange and brown organic baubles are merely
delights to the eye. But to a botanist, they represent so much more! Seed necklaces are often a by-product of
some other economic activity. If a tree is cultivated for its sap and happens to have ornamental seeds, they
generally find their way into necklaces. Ubiquitous trees and shrubs with attractive seeds are also primary
candidates for use in necklaces because the seed is easy to obtain. Many of the seeds are valued for use in
drinks, potions, medicines and, sometimes, poisons.
Poison jewelry
Some of the most attractive seeds used in jewelry are very poisonous. That lovely, innocent necklace may
quickly become lethal in the hands of a child who tastes every bright and shiny object that catches his or her
eye. There have been many cases of child poisonings that could have been avoided if the owner knew the
seeds. In most cases, they are not difficult to identify, and the number of seeds that are potentially dangerous
are in the minority
One of the most poisonous seeds is that of the Precatory-pea or Jequirity-bean (Abrus precatorius, Figure 63
4A), belonging to the Pea (Legume) family (Fabaceae). It is also one of the most attractive, the seeds being
shiny, red and black, and about 5-8 mm in length. One of these seeds can be fatal to a man. Since its highly
toxic properties are widely known (Gunn, 1969; Hardin and Arena, 1969; Niyogi, 1970; Davis, 1978), it is not
commonly encountered for sale in North America. However, in spite of the laws prohibiting its import and
sale, a few are occasionally brought in by an unsuspecting tropical traveller. Its alluring beauty has promoted
the Precatory-pea for wide use in bracelets, necklaces, placemats, and even as eyes of dolls. Abrus grows
throughout the tropics and subtropics, and artifacts containing it come from many parts of the world.
Several other members of the Legume family resemble Abrus, but most, if not all, are quite harmless The
Jumbie-bean (Ormosia coccinea) is reported to be poisonous (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977), but this is a
relatively large red and black seed (more than 1.3 cm long, similar to Figures 5A, 9V), that so far has not been
reported in North American seed jewelry. The seeds of Ormosia and of smaller legumes that resemble the
deadly Precatory-pea are readily distinguished by the fact that the hilum (the scar marking the point of
attachment of the fruit) in the Precatory-pea is located in the black part of the seed coat. The imposters have
their hila totally in the red area of the seed coat and/or are much larger in size.
Another highly poisonous seed used in necklaces and more frequently encountered in North America is
that of the Castor-bean (Ricinus communis, Figure 6A), a member of the Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). These
plants are most important as a source of castor oil used in medicines, soaps and lubricants. The seeds have a
most beautiful, brown, mottled appearance, and are often called "tiger beans". Although the plant is
sometimes cultivated as an ornamental for its large palmate leaves, it appears to be more of a poisoning problem in the form of a necklace. If the seed is swallowed with the seed coat intact, it may pass through the
digestive system with no ill effect. However, when the seed coat of a seed is perforated for the stringing of
necklaces, any toxin that is present readily escapes and may induce poisoning. The seeds of Castor-bean can
cause death by kidney failure up to 12 days after eating (Malizia et al., 1977). One to three can be fatal to a
child. Most of the Castor-bean necklaces that we have seen have come from Mexico and South America.
1 726 Pickering Beach Road, Ajax, Ontario L1S 3K8
2 Agriculture Canada, Biosystematics Research Institute, Wm. Saunders Building, Central Experimental Farm. Ottawa,
Ontario K1A 0C6 FIGURE 4. A. Precatory-pea [Abrus pre-
catorius) VERY POISONOUS, B. Royal
Poinciana [Delonix regia).
FIGURE 5. A. Jumbie-bean [Ormosia sp.)
SOME POISONOUS, B. Leucaena (Leu-
caena leucocephala). FIGURE 6. A. Castor-bean [Ricinus communis)
POISONOUS, B. Leucaena (Leucaena leuco-
Anyone owning the attractive seeds of these species should take them to a local police department,
agricultural station, museum or university botany department to be safely disposed of, since they represent a
very real potential danger.
Another bead that may be harmful is the seed of the Chinaberry (Melia azedarach. Figure 7) in the
Mahogany family (Meliaceae). The ridged, cream-colored seeds contain a poisonous alkaloid that could be
fatal if enough of them are eaten.
Seeds from the genus Erythrina (Figures 8A, 15A) in the Legume family are used in tropical necklaces from
many parts of the world. They are popular due to their shiny red, or red and black seed coats, and have a
variety of names including Kaffirboom, Coral Tree and Lucky-bean Tree. There are over one hundred species
in North and South America alone, ranging in habit from twining herbaceous vines to small trees. They, too,
contain a poison, which is similar to curare, the South American arrow poison. Although deadly if refined and
injected into the bloodstream, the seeds appear to be harmless when eaten. The human kidney efficiently
excretes this particular poison faster than it can accumulate to a toxic level.
A few other poisonous seeds are used in necklaces, such as Sandbox (Hura crepitans, Figure 9Q, Appendix),
Lucky-bean (Afzelia cuanzensis, Figure 9K, Appendix), Lucky Nut (Thevetia peruviana, Figure 9R, Appendix),
some Macadamia (Macadam/a spp., Appendix) and the pits of Apricot (Prunus armeniaca, Figures 17A, 20A),
which contain hydrocyanic acid. These are less serious poisoning problems because of their relative infre-
quency in seed jewelry available here and/or their large size (making ingestion less likely), and/or lower toxicity.
Candlenut seeds (Aleurites moluccana. Figure 9N, Appendix) are edible when roasted but poisonous when raw
(Hardin and Arena, 1974). FIGURE 7. Chinaberry [Melia azedarach)
POISONOUS. The smaller dark beads
are made of plastic.
FICURE 8. (left). A Coral Tree (frythrina
sp.), B quills of the Old World Porcupine
[Hystrix sp).
FIGURE 9. (opposite) A. Stilt Palm [Socrates sp.), B. African Oil Palm (Elaeis
guineensis) POISONOUS, C. Betel Nut
Palm (Areca catechu), D. Juniper [Juniperus sp.) E. Walnut (Juglans sp.), F. Peach
[Prunus pers/ca), G. Oak (Quercus sp.),
H. Kenari Nut [Canarium sp.), I. Chick
Pea [Cicer arietinum), J. Elephant's-ear
[Enterolobium cyc/ocarpum), K. Lucky-
bean [Afzelia cuanzensis), L. Bean
[Phaseolus sp.), M. Macadamia [Maca-
damia sp.), N. Candlenut [Aleurites
moluccana), O. Vegetable Ivory [Boras-
sus sp.), P. Pumpkin [Cucurbita pepo),
Q. Sandbox (Hura crepitans) POISONOUS, R. Lucky Nut [Thevetia peruviana)
POISONOUS, S. Cat's Claw [Caesalpinia
bonduc), T. Vulture's Eye [Dioclea sp.),
U. Sweetsop [Annona squamosa), V. Jum-
bie Bean [Ormosia sp.) SOME POISONOUS B
2 cm
i i
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ftO    (3
u Harmless jewelry
In contrast to the deadly and infamous seeds are many that are completely harmless. One of the most commonly used in necklaces from around the world is that of the grass called Job's-tears (Coix lacryma-jobi,
Figure 10). In fact, this is not truly a seed, but rather a part of the stem tissue that surrounds the developing
fruit. It hardens into a shiny gray or cream-colored teardrop. These beads may be dyed many colors and are
frequently combined with other species.
Another grass used in necklace making, particularly in North America, is Corn (Zea mays, Figure 11 A).
Other edible seeds found in necklaces include Chick-peas (Cicer arietinum, Figure 91} and Navy beans
(Phaseolus vulgaris, Figure 16A). Like Coix, they are often dyed bright, riotous colors.
The so-called "apple seed" necklaces come from a tropical tree of the Legume family called Leucaena or
Wild-tamarind (Leucaena leucocephala, Figures 5B, 6B, 12). Many variations of the "apple seed" necklace
originate from the Philippines and are sometimes combined with shells, another popular group of organic
beads. Leucaena seeds are edible and are sometimes roasted and brewed for coffee.
Several other members of the Legume family (Fabaceae) must be mentioned. Both the Bead Tree (Adenan-
thera pavonina, Figure 13A) and the Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia, Figures 4B, 13B, 17B) are tropical trees.
Royal Poinciana is native to Madagascar, but is widely cultivated for its luxuriant red blossoms for which it
has received another common name: the Flame Tree. The long woody pods or legumes of this tree are
familiar to many of us who have had a midwinter holiday in the tropics. Its seeds are flat, narrowly ovate and
attractively mottled brown and cream. The Bead Tree has brilliant shiny red or orange seeds that resemble
two rather pointed hemispheres badly joined at a pronounced equator. Both of these species are attractive
components of necklaces.
Drift seeds
It is perhaps not fortuitous that some other seeds of members of the Legume family that are found so often
in necklaces are seeds that are buoyant and apparently adapted for dispersal by sea water. Oceanic dispersal
is most prevalent in the tropics (Gunn, 1968; Gunn and Dennis, 1976). The seeds are frequently washed up in
profusion on sandy tropical beaches, and are sometimes carried by the ocean currents to beaches many miles
outside the tropics. The strong, hard seed coats that protect the embryos from sea water during their voyage,
FIGURE 10. Job's-tears (Coix lacryma-jobi). FIGURE 11. A. Corn [Zea mays),
B. quills of the North American Porcupine [Erethizon dorsatum)
FIGURE 12.    Leucaena    [Leucaena
1 cm
"ww* 70
FIGURE 13. A. Bead Tree [Adenanthera pavonina),
B. Royal Poinciana [Delonix regia).
4 at s
FIGURE 14. A Cuban Heart [Entada sp), B. Raffia              flfc
Palm (Raphia sp.)                                                                      ^B —
1cm make these seeds especially appropriate to withstand the battering received by necklaces. Perhaps the best
known of these drifting legume seeds are the Cuban Heart or Sea Heart (Entada sp.. Figure 14A), the Donkey's
Eye (Mucuna sp.. Figure 15B), the Cat's Claw (Caesalpinia bonduc, Figure 9S), and the Vulture's Eye (Dioclea
sp.. Figure 9T).
The Cuban Heart has the longest fruit in the Legume family, often reaching two metres in length. The
Donkey's Eye is a tropical vine with hairy pods, that, in some species, are poisonous and can cause
unbearable burning and itching upon contact. The dark brown spherical seeds, however, are harmless and
have even been eaten as an aphrodisiac. The hilum of the Donkey's Eye is belt-like, encircling the seed for
three-quarters of its circumference. The Cat's Claw is appropriately named for the seed pods are covered with
stout, 1 cm long spines, making them quite threatening. The seeds are very distinctive, being 2 cm in diameter, gray and irregularly ovoid. The seed coat is marked by many fracture lines, a feature unique to this
species. These hard round seeds were once used in Europe as buttons, and continue to be a source of folk
medicine. The Vulture's Eye is also used medicinally and as a toy in a game of marbles. The seeds of this
woody, pantropical vine are 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, slightly compressed, and distinctive in that, like the
Donkey's Eye, the hilum runs more than half way around the circumference. They differ in being reddish-
brown in color, and not so spherical in shape.
Economic jewelry
Imagine gliding into your next cocktail party with the basis of a multi-million dollar industry around your
neck! You could be wearing coffee-beans (Coffea arabica, Figure 15C), which are a major component of seed
necklaces from Cuatemala, Peru and Columbia. Or you may be sporting the flat, shiny brown seeds of
Manilkara achras (M. Zapota), the Sapodilla or Chicle (Figure 16B). From these seeds have sprung the chewing
FICURE 15. A. Coral Tree[Erythrina sp),
B. Donkey's Eye [Mucuna sp.), C. Coffee
[Coffea arabica), D. Bullhorn Acacia
[Acacia sp.).
71 72
FIGURE 17. A Apricot [Prunus armeniaca) POISONOUS, B. Royal Poinciana [Delonix regia),
C. Hawthorn (Crataegus sp ), D. Soapberry [Sapin-
dus saponaria).
FIGURE  16.  A. Navy  Bean [Phaseolus  vulgaris),
B. Chicle [Manilkara achras) gum industry. The gum exuded from slashes in the tree trunks is combined with sugar and flavoring to produce that ubiquitous confection of North America. Also found in necklaces from the Honduras are the brown,
angular seeds of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa, Figure 9U), whose fruit is considered among the
most exquisite of tropical fruits in both taste and texture.
Necklaces from Taiwan tend to feature members of the large, economically important Rose family
(Rosaceae). Peach (Prunus persica, Figure 9F) and Apricot (Prunus armeniaca, Figures 17A, 20A) pits are frequent components in conjunction with Chinaberries, and seeds of Flame Trees, Hawthorns (Crataegus sp..
Figure 17C) and the African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis. Figure 9B). Soapberry seeds (Sapindus saponaria.
Figure 17D) are often found in these necklaces, and also in those from South America. It is so named because
the seeds contain 30% saponin, which will produce suds in water. They have been used as a source of fish
poison, but the effects on warm-blooded animals are minimal. These seeds are like black marbles, marked
with a distinctive groove 5 mm long. They should not be confused with those of Canna indica, commonly
known as Indian-shot (Figure 18). Its seeds are much smaller, and marked with a tiny pore, not a groove. Canna
seeds may be found in necklaces from Africa and South America.
North American seed jewelry
Seed jewelry is by no means confined to parts unknown! Indians in the Canadian prairie provinces make
necklaces with the striped seeds of Buffalo-berry (Elaeagnus commutata, Figure 19A), which are first removed
from a dry, mealy, edible berry. The whole fruits, dried, were also used by Interior Indians in British Columbia
(Turner, 1979). Necklaces are made in Arizona with the attractive, two-tone seeds from berries of the local
One-seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma. Figure 19B). These necklaces are dazzling compared to a more
modest product made in Canada using the entire berries of the Prostrate Juniper (Juniperus communis, Figure
9D). Some of the prettiest North American seed necklaces are made with Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo.
Figure 9P, Appendix).
FIGURE 18. Indian-shot [Canna indica).
The smaller black or white beads are
plastic. 74
FIGURE 19. A. Buffalo-berry [Elaeagnus commut-
ata), B. One-seed Juniper [juniper monosperma),
C plastic beads
FIGURE 20. A.  Apricot [Prunus armeniaca) POI
SONOUS, B Horse-tail Tree (Casuarina sp.). Other Organic materials
Plant materials in necklaces are not confined to seeds. The fruits of the Horse-tail Tree (Casuarina sp.,
Figure 20B) and of lepidocaryoid palms (for example, Raphia sp.. Figure 14B) are also often used. Raphia is
economically important as the source of raffia fibre, a popular craft item. Necklaces from South and Central
America often feature the Y-shaped hollow thorns of the Bullhorn Acacia (Acacia sp.. Figure 15D). Ants live in
the hollow thorns of some Bullhorn Acacias and if the shrub is disturbed, the ants attack and drive off the
intruder. Woody reeds are also used in necklaces from this part of the world, and a necklace from Taiwan
featured lengths of bamboo. Sometimes animal material is also used to add interest to a seed necklace, such
as Porcupine quills (Swaziland and Canada, Figures 8B and 11B respectively), sea urchin spines (Philippines),
fish scales and beetle wings (both South America).
Yellow Oleander (Figure 9R), Macadamia nuts (Figure 9M), Ivory Nut Palm seeds (Figure 90), Acorns (Figure
9G), Walnut cross sections (Figure 9E), Elephants-ear seeds (Figure 9J); the list of seeds, nuts and fruits in
jewelry seems endless and grows constantly (see Appendix). Forty-three are identified here. Some defy identification, and others have been cut, polished or carved to the point where they scarcely resemble seeds. But
these organic necklaces share with us fascinating stories, reminders of strange plants, unusual customs and
exotic resources. Gold and silver are a little dull by comparison!I
Davis, J.H. 1978. Abrus precatorius (Rosary Pea): the most common lethal plant poison. J. Florida Med. Assoc. 65(3):189-191. 75
Freeman, W.G. and R O. Williams. 1969. 4th ed. rev. The useful and ornamental plants in Trinidad and Tobago. Government Printery, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Gunn, C.R. 1968. Stranded seeds and fruits from the southeastern shore of Florida. Card. J„ N.Y. Bot Card. 18(2):43-54.
 1969. Abrus precatorius. a deadly gift. Card. J., N.Y. Bot. Card. 19(1):2-5.
 and J.V. Dennis 1976. World guide to tropical drift seeds and fruits. The New York Times Book Co, New York.
Hardin, J.W. and J.M. Arena. 1969. Human poisoning from native and cultivated plants. Duke University Press, Durham.
Irvine, F.R. 1961. Woody plants of Ghana Oxford University Press, London
Lewis, W.H. and M.P.F. Elvin-Lewis 1977. Medical Botany. Plants affecting man's health. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.,
New York.
Malizia, E , L. Sarcinelli and G. Andreucci. 1977. Ricinus poisoning: a familiar epidemy. Acta Pharmacol, et Toxicol. 41,
Menninger, E.A. 1977. Edible nuts of the world. Horticultural Books Inc., Stuart, Florida.
Niyogi, S.K. 1970. The toxicology of Abrus precatorius L. J. Forensic Sci. 15(4):529-536.
Schery, R.W. 1972. 2nd ed. Plants for man. Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey.
Turner, N.J. 1979. Plants in British Columbia Indian Technology. Handbook No. 38. British Columbia Provincial Museum,
Victoria, B.C.
Watt, J.M. and M.G. Brewer-Brandwijk  1962. 2nd ed. Medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa.
E  & S. Livingstone Ltd., Edinburgh. APPENDIX. List of seeds, nuts, fruits and other organic material used in jewelry-
Species are arranged in alphabetical order of genus, and the common name and corresponding figure numbers are provided.
Brief notes are included for certain species not described or discussed in the main text
Abrus precatorius L. (Fabaceae), Precatory-pea. (4A)
Acacia sp. (Fabaceae), Acacia (thorns) (15D)
Adenanthera pavonia L (Fabaceae), Bead Tree (13A)
Afzelia cuanzensis Welw. (Fabaceae), Lucky-bean, Mahogany Bean. (9K). The shiny blackish or dark brownish seeds have a
prominent bright-orange or red aril, the latter being edible The seed, however, contains a cyanogenetic poison (Irvine,
1961; Menninger, 1977). Mostly found in necklaces originating from tropical Africa.
Aleurites moluccana (L.) Willd. (Euphorbiaceae), Candlenut, Kukui. (9N). In Hawaii particularly, the seeds from this tree are
cut and polished to produce shiny, dark brown beads The kernel of the seed was once used as a source of oil for burning as
a light source.
Annona squamosa L. (Annonaceae), Sweetsop, Sugar Apple. (9U). Brown angular seeds in necklaces from Central and South
Areca catechu L. (Palmaceae), Betel-nut Palm (9C) Yellowish, brownish or reddish kernels (endosperm) with light markings
and a crescent-shaped or semi-circular scar. A tree to 31 m tall, especially common in the East Indies where the seeds are
valued for chewing by over 400 million people (thus out-rivalling chewing-gum), turning the teeth black and the saliva red.
76 Borassus sp. (Palmaceae), Vegetable Ivory. (90) The brown-seeds of the Borassoid Palms are carved so as to reveal the
"ivory" (hardened endosperm) beneath. Vegetable ivory from Africa appears to be mostly from this genus. Neotropical
palms of the genera Iriartea and Phytelephas also furnish a vegetable ivory used similarly for beads, buttons and carving into ornaments.
Caesalpinia bonduc (L ) Roxb (Fabaceae), Cat's Claw, Cray Nickernut (9S) Brownish or grayish, more or less round, smooth
and often shiny seeds. Encountered in necklaces from Central and South America, Africa and the West Indies, where they
were once much used as buttons The seeds characteristically have a series of 15-25 concentric circular crack marks that
aid in identification.
Canarium spp. (Burseraceae), Kenan Nut, Java Almond. (9H). Large trees native to the East Indies where the kernels of the
nut are eaten. The hard brown three-edged "nuts" are often polished and carved.
Canna indica L. (Cannaceae), Indian-shot. (18)
Casuarina sp. (Casuarinaceae), Horse-tail Tree. (20B)
C/cer arietinum L. (Fabaceae), Chick Pea. (91) An important food item in tropical semi-arid regions. The pale brown seeds
may be dyed or painted.
Coffea arabica L. (Rubiaceae), Coffee. (15C)
Coix lacryma-jobi L. (Poaceae), Job's-tears. (10)
Crataegus sp. (Rosaceae), Hawthorn. (17C)
Cucurbita pepo L. (Cucurbitaceae), Pumpkin. (9P). Light yellowish-brown flattened seeds.
Delonix reg/a (Bojer) Raf. (Fabaceae), Royal Poinciana, Flame Tree. (4B, 13B, 17B)
Dioclea spp. (Fabaceae), Vulture's Eye (9T). Flat, shiny black or dark brown seeds mainly in necklaces from the East Indies. Elaeagnus commutata Bernh. (Elaeagnaceae), Buffalo-berry. (19A)
Elaeis guineensis Jacq. (Palmaceae), African Oil Palm. (9B). Brown kernels (endosperm) with light markings. An important
source of oil cultivated in Africa and the East Indies.
Entada sp. (Fabaceae), Sea Bean, Cuban Heart. (14A)
Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Griseb. (Fabaceae), Elephant's-ear. (9J). A tree native to the neotropics with dark brown
seeds having a lighter brown oval delineation on each convex face.
Erethizon dorsatum (a mammal), North American Porcupine (quills). (11B)
Erythrina sp (Fabaceae), Coral Tree. (8A, 15A)
Hura crepitans L. (Euphorbiaceae), Sandbox (9Q). The large brown seeds of this neotropical tree are poisonous (Hardin and
Arena, 1969), but are unlikely to be ingested because of their size.
Hystrix sp. (a mammal), Old World Porcupine (quills). (8B)
luglans sp. (Juglandaceae), Walnuts, Butternuts. (9E). Usually the walnuts are used as cross-sections and are seen in
necklaces originating from Central America and southeast Asia.
juniperus monosperma (Engelm) Sarg. (Cupressaceae), One-seed Juniper. (19B)
juniperus spp. (Cupressaceae), Juniper. (9D). Blackish, hard wrinkled berry. Occasionally in necklaces made by North
American Indians.
Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) DeWit (Fabaceae), Leucaena, Wild-tamarind. (5B, 6B, 12)
Macadamia spp,, (Proteaceae), Macadamia, Queensland Nut. (9M). A group of trees native to northeastern Australia but introduced and cultivated elsewhere, especially in Hawaii, for their edible fruits. The perfectly circular brown "nuts" are
mostly Macadamia integrifolia but a poisonous species with pointed "nuts" (M. whelanii, Menninger, 1977, p. 24) is also
occasionally used in necklaces.
Manilkara achras (Mill.) Fosberg [M. zapota) (Sapotaceae), Chicle, Sapodilla (6B)
Melia azedarach L. (Meliaceae), Chinaberry. (7)
Mucuna sp. (Fabaceae), Donkey's-eye. (15B)
Ormosia sp. (Fabaceae), Jumbie-bean. (5A, 9V). Scarlet and black, shiny seeds seen in necklaces from Bolivia and Equador. / /
The seed of Ormosia coccinea, reported to be poisonous (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977), is very similar to the one illustrated.
Phaseolus vulgaris L. (Fabaceae), Navy Bean. (9L, 16A)
Prunus armeniaca L. (Rosaceae), Apricot. (17A, 20A)
Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Rosaceae), Peach. (9F). Pale brownish or yellowish pits, pitted and grooved.
Quercus sp., (Fagaceae), Acorns from Oak trees. (9C). Brownish or yellowish nuts with circular scar and with or without a
"cap" of hard overlapping bracts. Although acorns are largely regarded as "squirrel food", they have been important as a
food source to man, and some tribes of North American Indians were largely dependent upon acorn crops.
Raphia sp. (Palmaceae), Raphia Palm. (14B)
Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae), Castor-bean. (6A)
Rosa spp. (Rosaceae), Wild Roses. (Not illustrated). Reddish-orange fruits, usually called "hips", sometimes used in
necklaces by Western North American Indians (Turner, 1979). The fruits represent a hypanthium or fleshy receptacle with
bony achenes inside.
Sapindus saponaria L. (Sapindaceae), Soapberry. (17D)
Socratea sp. (Palmaceae), Stilt Palm. (9A). Brown kernels (endosperm) with light reticulate markings. Neotropical tree.
Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Sch. (Apocynaceae), Lucky Nut, Yellow Oleander. (9R). Seed brown and broadly triangular.
This small tree is native to the West Indies where it is considered to be a lucky charm. It has been introduced elsewhere in
the tropics. The plant contains poisonous juices and seeds contain a poisonous glycoside (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk,
Zea mays L (Poaceae), Corn. (11 A). Prunus emarginata in British Columbia*
Bitter Cherry
Member of the Family Rosaceae
Natural Distribution and Habitat
Prunus emarginata (D. Douglas ex W.J. Hooker) Walpers occurs from southern British Columbia and Vancouver Island south through the Coast and Interior ranges of Washington and Oregon to southern California,
and inland to western Nevada (Washoe Mountains) and northern Arizona (the San Francisco Mountains). The
species grows in moist woods or along streambanks, or less commonly on dry hillsides In the northern part of
the range, it is found from sea level to 913 m, and from 1525-2750 m in the southern part At higher levels the
species usually prefers dryish to moist gravelly soils, and rich sandy or gravelly soils at lower elevations. The
species reaches its largest size on Vancouver Island, in western Oregon and Washington, and on the Santa
Lucia Mountains in California Prunus emarginata often forms large dense pure shrubby thickets at higher
levels, and nearly pure stands on limited areas lower down. It is sometimes especially abundant on cutover
and burned areas in Douglas Fir forests. It is associated with Douglas Fir and Western Dogwood at lower
elevations, and with White Fir and Douglas Fir at the higher elevations
/ O In British Columbia, the species is present at lower elevations on Vancouver Island and the southern
Coastal Zone (to about 55°N), extending east in the Interior Wet Belt to the Kootenay — Arrow Lakes region.
It is found at about 1220 m in Manning Park and east Prunus emarginata grows in moist, sparsely wooded
areas along streams, in the open woodlands of the Interior, and is often present on cutover and burned over
areas as an early arrival.
Prunus emarginata is a very variable species, depending largely on the type of soil, climatic factors, and the
elevation at which it is growing. It ranges from a straggly, generally several-stemmed shrub or small tree,
0.9-6{-9) m tall, to an erect, somewhat spreading tree, 9-15(-20) m tall, with a slender straight trunk,
15-30(-60) cm in diameter. The tree has a narrow symmetrical crown consisting of slender, ascending branches, and the branch-free portion of the trunk is relatively short. The shrub is commonly found on poor soils,
on dry and exposed sites, and at high altitudes. It is often much bent in high rocky and exposed places, and
often forms dense thickets.
The roots are widespreading, running up to 15 m under the surface, and sending up shoots along their
length. There is no tap root. There are nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the roots
The bark is deep reddish-purple when young, becoming grayish to dark reddish-brown with age, about
6 mm thick, smooth to lightly roughened, and marked with conspicuous, large, widely-spaced, orange to
grayish, powdery, horizontal lenticels. There may also be horizontal interrupted bands of light gray on the
bark. The bark and inner bark are extremely bitter to taste.
The twigs are slender, deep red, and glabrous to densely pubescent when young, becoming reddish-brown
and glabrous to glabrescent with age. The lenticels are large, pale, and conspicuous. The pith is rounded,
uniform, and pale colored to light brown. The leaf scars are alternate, raised, horizontal, half-elliptical, and at
least 2 mm wide. There are (2)3 usually minute bundle traces. There are stipule scars on each side of the leaf
* By Roy L. Taylor and Sylvia Taylor. B X 3.0
C X 0.5
D x 0.33
FIGURE 21, Prunus emarginata. A. Habit, B. section through a flower, C. flowering branch, D. fruiting branch, E. seed. The wood is close-grained, porous, soft, brittle, and rots quickly, especially when in contact with the soil.
The heartwood is brownish and often streaked with green, and the softwood is paler and very thick. It has no
commercial value.
The winter buds are about 3 mm long, glabrous, subglobose to usually ovoid with an acute apex, chestnut-
brown, and covered by many imbricate scales. The outer scales are often slightly scarious on the margins,
while the inner ones are acuminate with bright-red tips and are glandular-serrate above the middle. The buds
are solitary in the leaf axils, but become more clustered towards the ends of the twigs. A true terminal bud is
present. The leaves are conduplicate in bud.
The leaves are deciduous, and are very variable, especially in size and degree of pubescence present. They
are alternate, simple, thin, fragile, somewhat upright from the twig, and slightly folded along the midrib. The
leaf blade is usually narrowly ovate or ovate to obovate, 2-5(-9) cm long, 0.8-3.5 cm broad, dull yellowish-
green or dark green and glabrous above, paler and glabrous to more or less pubescent or tomentose beneath.
The apex is usually obtuse to somewhat acute, and the base is somewhat cuneate or tapered. The margins are
finely and bluntly serrate. The petiole is 3-6(-12) mm long, usually pubescent, and often bears 1-3 (3 or 4),
minute, dark, glandular projections near the base of the leaf blade. The stipules are free from the petiole,
minute, usually lanceolate with an acuminate apex, glandular-serrate, and are soon deciduous.
The flowers are perfect, regular, fragrant, showy, 8-12(-15) mm across, and occur in axillary or terminal,
sessile, corymbose clusters of (3-)5-10(-12) on twigs of the previous year. The rachis is often leafy-bracteate.
The flowers appear with the leaves in April to June, depending on the elevation, throughout the range. The
calyx tube or hypanthium is campanulate, 2.5-3.5 mm long, glabrous to pubescent outside, and is lined with a
glandular, often colored, disc. The 5 calyx lobes are short, entire, oblong, obtuse and usually emarginate at
the apex, about 2 mm long, and become reflexed after anthesis. The margins of the lobes are sometimes
slightly glandular. The 5 petals are dullish white, often faintly tinged with green, 4-5(-7) mm long, obovate
with a rounded emarginate apex, and are contracted below into a short claw. The petals are often pubescent
on the lower (dorsal) surface. There are usually (15-)20(-30) stamens arranged in 3 alternating rows, with the
outer row opposite the petals. The stamens have long slender filaments, oval anthers, and are exserted. There
is a single long style with a terminal discoid stigma. The ovary is superior at the base of the hypanthium, and is
1-celled with 2 pendulous ovules. The pedicels are 2.5-16 mm long, with the lower pedicels being longer than
80 t'1e uPPer ones, slender, and pubescent. The flowers produce plentiful nectar, which is collected by bees.
The fruit is a fleshy, edible drupe, occurring in corymbose clusters in June to August (September), depending on the locality and elevation, throughout the range. The drupe is red becoming black, ovoid to globose,
6-12 mm in diameter, glabrous, and usually not glaucous. The remains of the flower are present at the base.
The flesh (exocarp) is thin, very bitter, and astringent. The bony endocarp or stone contains 1 seed, derived by
abortion of 1 of the 2 ovules. The stone is swollen and nearly globose, somewhat pointed at the ends, ridged
and prominently grooved on one side, rounded or slightly grooved on the other, and is about 3 mm long. The
seed occupies almost all the space inside the stone, and the seed coat is thin, membranaceous, and pale
brown. The pedicel is about 12 mm long, and branches from a stouter central stem that is 12-25 mm long. The
species usually produces abundant seed nearly every year.
The bark, foliage and seeds contain a cyanogenic glycoside that releases hydrocyanic (prussic) acid on
hydrolysis, and have a characteristic bitter almond taste and smell when crushed.
Varieties and Ornamental Cultivars
Prunus emarginata is extremely variable in height, size of leaves, and the degree of pubescence. It is,
therefore, not surprising that a number of different segregates have been named in the past.
Two varieties are now generally accepted. Prunus emarginata var. emarginata is usually shrubby with
several stems, 0.9-9 m tall, and has grayish bark. The leaves are dull yellowish-green, and vary from glabrous
to rather heavily pubescent. The petals are frequently hairy on the back. This variety is present chiefly in and
east of the Cascades in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and southward, and also in the Olympic
Mountains. Prunus emarginata var. mollis (D, Douglas ex W.J. Hooker) Brewer is usually a tree, up to15(-20)m
tall, and has dark reddish-brown bark. The lower surface of the leaves and the calyx are heavily pubescent. It
is present mainly west of the Cascades and on lowland moist sites from British Columbia to southern Oregon.
The ranges of Prunus emarginata and P. pensylvanica Linnaeus f il., Pin Cherry, overlap in the North Thompson and Shuswap Valleys in British Columbia, and hybrid forms have been reported from this area.
Hybrid forms may also be found around towns and farms, resulting from cross-pollination between P.
emarginata and domestic cherry trees.
No ornamental cultivars are reported. Propagation
Prunus species are best propagated from seed, but the seed does show embryo dormancy, and requires a
period of stratification before germination will occur. The seed should be cleaned of all pulp and juices, but
softening, cracking or removal of the hard endocarp is not necessary. It may be stored air dry for up to one
year. The seed may be sown immediately in fall or stratified in a moist peat or peat-sand mixture before sowing early in the spring. Seedlings are undercut and transplanted after one to two years.
Prunus emarginata seeds should be stratified for 90-126 days at 3-5°C in a moist medium before sowing.
This treatment, followed by germination conditions of 24°C day and night for 60 days, has resulted in the low
germination rate of 4%. In nature, scattered seedlings of the Bitter Cherry are frequently found in moist
mineral soil and humus.
Many Prunus species may also be propagated from softwood cuttings taken when the base of the new
growth begins to harden. These are prepared as nodal or heel cuttings. A rooting hormone may be used to
hasten rooting, and gentle basal heat may be an advantage.
Root cuttings may also be used.
Prunus species should be transplanted in the fall or late winter to early spring as either bare root or balled
and burlapped specimens. It is imperative that transplanting be followed by watering during the first season.
Conditions for Cultivation
Prunus species in general are all of easy culture and easily grown, and are hardy to very hardy. They do best
in a well-drained, loamy soil, which should contain some lime or chalk, although too much lime will cause
chlorosis They are not particularly tolerant to pollution.
Prunus emarginata is hardy to U.S.D.A. Zone 7. The longevity of the species has not been fully determined,
although one tree with a diameter of 23.8 cm was found to be 42 years old. It is intolerant of shade, enjoying Ql
full exposure to sunlight, and will grow well in a well-drained, rich, sandy or gravelly soil.
Prunus species do not, in general, require annual pruning. Specimens should be pruned in summer after
flowering rather than in the fall, although potential fruits are lost in the process.
Landscape Value
Prunus species are useful for spring gardens, although the short season of bloom and undistinguished
foliage has limited the use of many species.
Prunus emarginata is usually represented in cultivation by the variety mollis, which forms a small elegant
tree with a neat habit. It has been planted as a shade tree in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Bees are attracted to the plant because of the copious nectar produced by the flowers, and birds and other animals are
attracted by the fruit.
Prunus emarginata is not generally available from commercial nurseries.
Other Uses
Large trees of Prunus emarginata are chiefly used locally for firewood. In general, the species is important
as a wildlife browse plant, and in erosion control. It is useful on dry, rocky slopes at high elevations where the
stems, often bent low by heavy snows, help to prevent rapid run-off. The species also forms "nurse" trees for
conifer seedlings.
The fruit is edible, although it is rarely eaten because of the very bitter and astringent taste.
Few Indians of British Columbia and Washington ate the fruit because of the taste. However, the Lillooet 82
tribe of British Columbia distinguished two varieties of Prunus emarginata, one of which had sweet fruits,
which they ate fresh. The Okanagan-Colville people of British Columbia and Washington sometimes ate the
fruit as a remedy for a "sour" stomach. They were said to have a laxative effect.
The bark can be peeled off in thin, horizontal strips or cut in a continuous spiral, and polished to a rich red
color. Many Indian tribes used this bark, and also that from the roots, to imbricate and add color to split
cedar-wood baskets. It was sometimes dyed black by soaking for several months in rich organic soil or in
manure, or colored with vegetable dye. The bark was also used to add strength and decoration to items such
as bows, "tomahawk" handles, and pipestems. Several of the Coastal tribes used the bark to cover the joints
of underwater implements such as harpoons, dipnets, etc., because it was watertight, resistant to decay, and
made a smooth union, especially when sealed with pitch. The bark was often imported into areas where it did
not grow naturally.
The Bella Coola tribe boiled the roots and inside bark with a lot of water, and drank the decoction in quantity daily for heart trouble. The Kwakiutl used the bark to cover and protect dressings over wounds, using
pitch to attach it onto the skin. The Lummi tribe of Washington chewed the bark to facilitate childbirth, and
the Quinault boiled the bark, drinking the liquid as a laxative. The Makah people of western Washington
burned the bark of Picea sitchensis with that of Prunus emarginata. and put the charcoal powder on an infant's
navel when the cord was cut.
The Saanich people thought that the wood was an excellent fuel, and sometimes used it for the hearth and
drill in making friction fires.
The Squaxin tribe of Washington mixed the seeds of Holodiscus discolor with those of Prunus emarginata
and took them as a blood purifier.
The Lower Thompson Indians of British Columbia believed that the presence of many red worms in the fruit
was a sign of a large salmon run.
Diseases and Problems of Cultivation
The bark, leaves and seeds are poisonous to humans and to livestock because of the presence of a
cyanogenic glycoside.
Prunus species are not particularly tolerant of pollution. All the species tend to become chlorotic if there is
too much lime present in the soil.
Numerous serious insect pests and diseases are associated with Prunus species, but trees kept in good
health will not be seriously damaged The insect pests include aphids, borers, scale, and tent caterpillars.
Toms (1964) reported that several fungi had been found on wild Prunus emarginata in the coastal region of
British Columbia. These include:- Cylindrosporium hiemalis Higgins, Leaf Spot; Dermea cerasi (Pers. ex Fr.) Fr„
Twig Blight; Podosphaera clandestina (Wallr. ex Fr.) Lev., Powdery Mildew; and, Stereum purpureum (Pers. ex
Fr.) Fr., Trunk Rot. Armillaria mellea (Vahl ex Fr.) Kumm, which causes Root Rot, has also been reported on Bitter Cherry. Taphrina wiesneri (Rathay) Mix has been reported to cause Leaf Curl and Witches'-broom on
Prunus emarginata in British Columbia.
Origin of the Name
The generic name Prunus is the classical Latin name for the Plum-tree, possibly derived from the Greek
prunos, 'plum'. The specific and varietal epithet emarginata is derived from the Latin emarginare, 'deprive of
its edge', referring to the shallow notch at the apex of the sepals and petals. The varietal name mollis means
'soft' or 'with soft hairs'.
The type locality for the typical Prunus emarginata is "On the upper part of the Columbia River, especially
about the Kettle Falls", where it was discovered by David Douglas (1798-1834) in 1825. It was first described
as Cerasus emarginata by Douglas in Sir William Jackson Hooker's "Flora boreali-americana" in 1832 or 1833.
Hooker (1785-1865) was Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University in Scotland from 1820 until 1841,
and Director of Kew from 1841 to 1865, The species was renamed in 1843 by Wilhelm Gerhard Walpers
(1816-1853), the German author of "Repertorium Botanices Systematicae" published between 1842 and 1853.
It was introduced to cultivation in Great Britain in 1865.
The type locality of Prunus emarginata var. mollis is "North-West coast of America near the mouth of the
Columbia and on subalpine hills near the source of that river", where it was collected by David Douglas. It
was first described as Cerasus mollis in "Flora boreali-americana". It was renamed in 1876 by William Henry Brewer (1828-1910), an American geologist and botanist,, who published "Botany of California" with Sereno
Watson (1826-1892) between 1876 and 1880. The variety was introduced to cultivation in Great Britain in
1861-62 as Cerasus pattoniana, and is now the form commonly grown.
It is interesting to note that Prunus emarginata was seen by Captain George Vancouver in May of 1792, on a
sand spit at Port Discovery in Washington (the Pensylvania cherry tree mentioned below is now identified as
P. emarginata).
"..... these, with the Canadian alder, small fruited crab,
and Pensylvania cherry trees, constituted the forests,
which may be considered rather as encumbered, than adorned,
with underwood "
Vancouver's Journal, 1978,1st ed,
(From: Jones, 1936)
Abrams, L. 1944. Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States, Washington, Oregon, and California. Vol. II. Polygonaceae to
Krameriaceae. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
Bean, W.J. 1976, 8th ed. rev. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles. Vol. III. N-Rh. John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., London. 83
Clark, L.J. 1973. Wild Flowers of British Columbia. Cray's Publishing Ltd., Sidney, B C.
Carman, E.H. 1973. 5th ed. rev. Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of British Columbia. Handbook #31. British Columbia
Provincial Museum, Victoria, B.C.
Hitchcock, C.L. et al. 1961. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3. Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. University of
Washington Press, Seattle, Washington.
Hosie, R.C. 1969. 7th ed. rev. Native Trees of Canada. Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry.
Queen's Printer, Ottawa.
Jones, C.N. 1936 A Botanical Survey of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. University of Washington Publications in
Biology Vol. 5. University of Washington Press, Seattle.
Lyons, C.P. 1965. Rev. ed. Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia. J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Ltd.,
Vancouver, B C
Smith, AW. 1972. A Gardener's Dictionary of Plant Names. Revised and enlarged by W.T. Stearn. Cassell and Co, Ltd.,
Sudworth, C B. 1908. Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope. Republication in 1967 by Dover Publications Inc., New York.
Taylor, R.L and B. MacBryde. 1977. Vascular Plants of British Columbia: A descriptive resource inventory. Technical
Bulletin No. 4, The Botanical Carden of the University of British Columbia. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, B.C.
Taylor, T.M.C. 1973. The Rose Family (Rosaceae) of British Columbia. Handbook #30. British Columbia Provincial Museum,
Victoria, B.C.
Toms, H.N.W. 1964 Plant Diseases of Southern British Columbia. A Host Index. Reprinted from: Canadian Plant Diseases
Survey 46:143-225. Canada Department of Agriculture, Ottawa
Turner, N.J. 1979. Plants in British Columbia Indian Technology. Handbook #38 British Columbia Provincial Museum,
Victoria, B.C.
., R  Bouchard and DID. Kennedy 1980 Ethnobotany of the Okanagan-Colville Indians of British Columbia
and Washington. No. 21, Occasional Paper Series. British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria, B.C.
U S.D A , Forest Service. 1974 Seeds of Woody Plants of the United States. USDA., Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook
No. 450. Special Apology
A special apology is tendered to Mrs. Monica McGavin, who was described in the article on the Official
Opening of the Physick and Asian Gardens (Davidsonia 12:50-54) as the niece of Professor Frank Buck. Mrs.
McGavin is Professor Buck's daughter.
Paxillus involutus. Chantareile, is one of the
commonest mushrooms of wooded areas in
British Columbia, x 0.33
Climatological Summary*
Data                                                       1981
Average maximum temperature
Average minimum temperature
Highest maximum temperature
Lowest minimum temperature
Lowest grass minimum temperature
Rainfall/no. days with rain
41.9 mm/10
43.1 mm/9
92.2 mm/13
Total rainfall since January 1, 1981
756.6 mm
799.7 mm
891.9 mm
Snowfall/no. days with snowfall
Total snowfall since October 1, 1980
39.3 cm
39.3 cm
39.3 cm
Hours bright sunshine/possible
Ave. daily sunshine/no. days total overcast
8.1 hr/3
9.8 hr/1
5.9 hr/1
'Site: The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1W5
Position: lat. 49" 15' 29" N; long. 123° 14' 58" W. Elevation: 104.4 m Koshikake-machiai, "Waiting Shed", in the Nitobe Memorial Garden. This is one of a series of four Handi-notes of scenes in
the Nitobe Memorial Garden, drawn by Rachel Mackenzie, and available from The Botanical Carden. Late afternoon,
the garden shimmers in September heat,
dahlias, asters blaze:
wasps suck the fallen apples,
white jasmine, scarlet roses incense heavenwards.
In the catalpa's shade the Woman sits.
A butterfly floats down the air,
lights at her feet,
brown wings, blue-tipped, swing open
and with a silken rhythm meet, and separate, and meet.
Her being knows this dance,
new, and eons old:
now, lifting up her arms,
the Woman, in the same slow motion,
steps into the waltz.
Elizabeth Gourlay
Songs & Dances, 1981
Volume 12 Number 3 Fall 1981
The Foxglove Trees    57
Stachys cooleyae Heller — A Hummingbird Flower?    62
Necklaces from Nature — Seed Jewelry    63
Prunus emarginata in British Columbia    78
Climatological Summary    84


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