Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just What DO We Have Here, Anyway???

One of the joys of the Pre-Dawn Patrol [now simply “Dawn” as the sun is cresting the trees shortly after I set out, so I'm dropping the "Pre-" until Fall] is picking up the scents of the morning, before the gentle environment is too corrupted by cars exhausts and diesel fumes. There is a certain satisfaction in being able to inhale and decipher the subtleties of morning dew, grass clippings from lawns that had been cut yesterday, recently overturned dirt in the neighborhood gardens.

And of course, the flowers coming to life now that Spring is finally settled and we move toward Summer [Spring in New Jersey can last six weeks of six minutes, depending on when the Rain stops and the first Heat Wave arrives]

"Gotta gotta GOTTA get up and run tomorrow morning ... the wisteria bloomed all of a sudden last week, and I STILL haven't gotten in my Pre-Dawn run with it"

Once you put something like that out, you're committed!!!

Last Friday, I woke up a little later than I had wanted to [but still, MUCH earlier than I have been in the week post-Broad Street] therefore I had to short myself to only 3 miles; but I selected a route that had maximum purple-ness. Not a cloud to be seen, a brilliant sunrise, a nice dampness in the air, even some dewy-ness on the lawns around town. I even saw a sprinkler running down the block off-course; I'll make a note of this for later in the summer, when warmy & muggy morning sprinkler dashes will be necessary.

Between the fading of the wisteria and the blooming of the honeysuckle, there are trees that produce a most lovely and fragrant cluster of white flowers. I’ve seen these trees bloom every Spring since I started running; and they often take me back to my v1.0 running “career” in

However, not ONCE have I ever stopped to find out what kind of tree they were.

As I was on my way out my development this morning, that very thought occurred to me. I said to myself “Self. I think we should REALLY try to find out what those trees are”

I VERY consciously hit the brakes as I approached a stand of them, and did my best Darwin impersonation:

Flowers: Long white bunches, like a lei
Leaves: Oval and offset on opposite sides on a middle stem; sort of like a fern does
Too early in the season to tell if it produces a fruit or a nut, oh, wait … there’s these long bean-y looking things on the ground; probably from last Fall

'Okay, I think I got enough to go on here.'

However, while the Left Side of my Brain was trying to distill these elements into simple, discrete terms for a proper Google search, the Right Side of my Brain took another approach.

Right Brain: Streets in Philadelphia … Spruce? Pine? Cypress? Nope, not an evergreen. Walnut? Chestnut? Nope, not a nut. Cherry? No way. It’s either Poplar or Locust. I’m picking Locust; I don’t think Poplars have flowers.
Left Brain: Good. Glad we got THAT settled ~sigh~


Robinia is a
genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae, native to North America and northern Mexico. Commonly known as "locusts", they are deciduous trees and shrubs growing 4-25 m tall. The leaves are pinnate with 7-21 oval leaflets. The flowers are white or pink, in usually pendulous racemes. Many species have thorny shoots, and several have sticky hairs on the shoots.

The genus is named after the royal French gardeners Jean Robin and his son Vespasian Robin, who introduced the plant to Europe in 1601.

The number of species is disputed between different authorities, with as few as four recognized by some authors, while others recognize up to ten species. There are also several natural hybrids.
Some species of Robinia are used as food by
larvae of Lepidoptera, including Brown-tail, Buff-tip, The Engrailed and Giant Leopard Moth

Yep, that’s them. I’m not sure which exact species they might be [the top contenders are “Honey Locust” and “Black Locust”] but at least one mystery is solved


"You can drag a horticulture, but you can't make her think.” Dorothy Parker

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