Signs of spring

While more snow is afflicting the northeastern U.S., out here on the left coast there are signs of spring. In my neighborhood, the spears of tulip shoots have now broken ground: spring flowers on the way! And the songbirds are now vocalizing like crazy.

In ten days or so (mid-February) the first trees will start to leaf out: the California buckeyes.

About them, from Wikipedia:

Aesculus californica, California buckeye or California horse-chestnut, is a species of buckeye native to California and southwestern Oregon.

… The flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, borne on erect panicles 15–20 cm (6–8 in) long and 5–8 cm (2–3 in) broad. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule 5–8 cm (2–3 in) long, containing a large (2–5 cm (0.8–2.0 in)), round, orange-brown seed; the seeds are poisonous.

A. californica has adapted to its native Mediterranean climate by growing during the wet late winter and spring months and entering dormancy in the dry summer months, though those growing in coastal regions [like the San Francisco Bay area] tend to hold on to their leaves until mid-autumn.

...It is used as an ornamental plant for its striking leaf buds, lime green foliage, fragrant white flowers, red-brown foliage in mid to late summer, and architectural silver branches through fall.

A full view of a tree in bloom; a buckeye “nut” in its husk; and a cluster of leaves:




The “buckeye” that is familiar to most people is a different horse chestnut, strongly identified with Ohio. From Wikipedia:

The tree species Aesculus glabra is commonly known as Ohio buckeye, American buckeye, or fetid buckeye.

… The Ohio buckeye is the state tree of Ohio, and its name is an original term of endearment for the pioneers on the Ohio frontier, with specific association with William Henry Harrison. Capt. Daniel Davis of the Ohio Company of Associates, under Gen. Rufus Putnam, traversed the wilderness in the spring of 1788, and began the settlement of Ohio. Davis was said to be the second man ashore at Point Harmar, on April 7, 1788. He declared later that he cut the first tree felled by a settler west of the Ohio River, a “buckeye” tree.

… Subsequently, “buckeye” came to be used as the nickname and colloquial name for people from the state of Ohio and The Ohio State University’s sports teams. The Ohio State University adopted “Buckeyes” officially as its nickname in 1950, and it came to be applied to any student or graduate of the university.

… Buckeye candy, made to resemble the tree’s nut, is made by dipping a ball of peanut butter fudge in milk chocolate, leaving a circle of the peanut butter exposed. These are a popular treat in Ohio, especially during the Christmas and college football seasons.


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