ArborEatum is just around the corner: next Tuesday, October 24. What fun it is: a friendly no-fee gathering of people who love to grow, culinaritize, eat, and drink various foods from landscapes and gardens. Come one come all to the Miller Pavilion at Ohio State University’s Secrest Arboretum, Tuesday, October 24, from 5:00 pm on. Eating and walking. Bring your offerings or just your appetites.
Now, from some items I discovered from my archives of writings of ArborEatums past. But first: get this, an e-mail from Lois this morning:
“I am planning to bring quite a few unusual products this year--had a year off so I have learned a bit. If you have ideas or suggestions about what might be needed or wanted please let me know.
We usually leave here around 3:30 and get there around 5 something--would heat the pies at home and wrap them up and hope they will stay warm on the way.”
“Warm pies, Jerry, they have pies”. Keep in mind that Lois brought over 30 items for the first ArborEatum. So learning a lot and enhancements for this year is a wowzer.
Okay, now, for a few notes on fruitful trees.
Pecans. Pecans are not just for Georgia, as evidenced by their Latin binomial of Carya illinoiensis, but Georgia is the #1 producer in the U.S. which grows over 80% of the world’s pecans. Texas is #2 and pecan is indeed the state tree there. This New World native tree, related to the hickories (genus Carya) and in the walnut family (Juglandaceae) originating from southwest Ohio and southern Illinois south to Mexico, is monoecious with male and female flowers separate on the same tree. It is also mostly self-incompatible, requiring a separate pollinator tree and the wind for pollination, as well as careful matching for timing of pollen production and receptive stigmas on female flowers as well as sequencing of alternate-bearing cultivars .
The wood is used in furniture and flooring, but the buttery seeds are the real deal, as exquisite flavor for pecan pies and pralines. It was also used extensively in pre-agricultural societies with high levels of calories per volume. Pecans are high in antioxidants, has been shown to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and has high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, though only half as much as black walnuts. Thomas Jefferson planted these “Illinois nut” trees at Monticello and gave seeds to George Washington for Mount Vernon.
Corneliancherry dogwood. Sir Jam-elot, Paul Snyder, added this small, edible, ornamental tree (Cornus mas) to the ArborEatum feast several years ago, in the form of corneliancherry dogwood jam. This edible landscape plant is increasing in popularity in Europe and research here at the OARDC has explored its use to create a tart yet sweet, ruby-colored cider made from 75% apple cider and 25% Cornus mas juice. It perfectly reflects its dual nature: very tasty and very beautiful.
Cornus mas is native to southern Europe, the Middle East, and southwest Asia and has many fine ornamental characteristics: including masses of chartreuse flowers in late winter or early spring before the tree foliates, attractive exfoliating bark, and small oblong reddish-purple fruits in early Fall. The fruits are pleasantly tart, but extremely astringent if you are impatient and chomp into firm unripe fruits. Corneliancherries are high in vitamin C and make wonderful jams, as you can verify here today, and is made into a vodka in Armenia, which you will not discover today. The wood of the tree is very dense, sinks when put in water, and was used for javelins and spears in ancient Greece.
Crabapples. The Crablandia II collection of ornamental Malus is one of the signature features in the Secrest Arboretum of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at the OSU Wooster Campus. Crablandia is the premier collection of the International Ornamental Crabapple Society with its nineteen nationwide plots of the National Crabapple Evaluation Program trials. We feature crabapples with OSU Extension because of the over $20 million dollar sales of crabapples annually in Ohio nurseries and garden centers and the need for apple scab resistance screening and other disease, pest and horticultural research.
By definition, crabapples are apple taxa with pome fruits under two inches in diameter at maturity. With 76 crabapple taxa in the replicated and randomized Crablandia plot and more throughout the OSU Wooster Campus we have a full sense of the foliage, flower, fruit and form features of this small tree which attracts a wide audience during springtime bloom in late April.
The Secrest crabapple story even extends beyond the international, as in the final Challenger space flight, in which OARDC crabapple seeds were included after NASA called with a message of “Ohio State - we have a problem”. Crabapple seeds replaced apple seeds too large for the Student Spaceflight Experiment and, with their germination back on earth after their exposure in space, the rest is history.
Let us close with this internationally intoned Ode de Malus from the First Earl of Pome-Roy:
There was a young wormling from Rome
Who yearned to make Malus his home
He searched and he searched
For a perch to besmirch
But crabapples were too tiny a pome