BYGLQuest 2016-2 Revealed: Its The Blueberries

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  You may recall that the challenge for BYGLQuest 2016-2 ( was to identify all plants in the images accompanying the text. There were numerous fine responses, but the discriminator was the one and only person to identify the lead image (see above).  It is a blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) in my backyard.


blueberry with variable fall foliage


  Not only does this highbush-type blueberry and its co-horts provide quarts of blueberries for waffles, pancakes, syrups, and fruit salads, as you can see the fall foliage is outstanding. The only person to notice and identify this to genus (Vaccinium) and to also identify the other plants in the images was: John A. Swintosky, landscape architect with the Louisville KY Metro Parks and Recreation. His prize: Two howlers of Bent Ladder (at Rittman OH Orchards) ciders.  Not sure how and when I will get these to you, John, but I will.  


Bent Ladder cider logo


  Now for the rest of the plants:



 The delightful combination of yellow, orange, and brown foliage and green stems (the stems will be attractive all winter) was Kerria japonica, a spreading shrub. Our planting is the single-flowered kerria which I prefer to the double-flowered Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’, though I guess I should like it more since the double-flowered kerria was introduced by William Kerr, the man for which the genus was named. The yellow flowers of kerria immediately follow forsythia blossoms in spring, so provide quite a reign of sunny cheer. Forsythia though has four petals, while kerria has five, as befits its classification in the rose family (Rosaceae).


kerria fall color


kerria flowers





  One devil in the detail is that there is a foliage and stem disease of kerria, casued by Blumeriella kerriae that has resulted in loss of horticultural value to plantings at several public gardens. An internet post from the Chicago Tribune even labels it as a “Bad Plant”.  As a plant pathologist, I simply channel my inner Gandalf and declare: This shall not pass!



  I have added my only image (note to self: take more pictures!) of kerria flowers, taken on the High Line in New York City three years ago. The image of the fungal leafspot is from the Bugwood website.


Blueriella fungal leaf and stem spot on kerria


  Next up was sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginianae), for many Ohio horticulturists, including my good buddy, the late Ricky Thomas, their favorite magnolia, due to its multi-season appeal. Here even their fallen leaves and their green stems provide fall features, though the sweet flower aromas are the tops, baby, as Mel Torme might say (my daily Seinfeld reference).  


burningbush euonymus and sweetbay magnolia leaves 


swetbay magnolia leaves on ground



   Mixed in with sweetbay in one picture are fallen leaves of Euonymus alatus, the winged or burningbush euonymus, considered an invasive species by many in Ohio, but nevertheless quite striking this fall. Evergreen euonymus, another euonymus with invasive tendencies, was also at the edge of one of the images. And there was a stray oak and maple leaf, and the final image of Oxalis regnelli ‘Atropurpurea’, our indoor purple shamrock houseplant, and if I really wanted to be picky, the potato, marijuana, tulip, apple, and crabapple from the two pictured book covers of the prizes last week – and that’s about it.


botany of desire cover


delira and excira cover



Coming soon: BYGLQuest 2016-3. Put on your togas!