Monday, November 11, 2019

Tasty Haws on Leafless Trees

Poplars at the Visual and Literary Arts building, University of Wyoming.
This year our fall colors include lots of pale browns, especially on poplars and cottonwoods. These are leaves that died and dried on the tree. The cottonwoods in my yard are still half-covered in dead leaves. Of course they're impossible to rake, and unfortunately our green waste pickup service ends this week.

But the trees I’m following—a pair of hawthorns next to the Visual and Literary Arts building—are all but bare. Last month they were covered in dull green leaves (and some rust-colored ones). I don’t know if they turned brown before or after falling, but in any case, the trees went from leafy to leafless in less than a month.
Early October.
Early November.
With no leaves it was easy to see the haws, which were wrinkled and shriveled. I suspect the hard frosts a few weeks ago are to blame. Actually “hard” is a gross understatement. We were hit by a blast of arctic air and suddenly it was winter—in mid-October! One day the high was 4ΒΊ F (-16ΒΊ C), and early the next morning we had a low of -15ΒΊ (-26ΒΊ). Fortunately, beautiful fall days have returned, with highs in the low 50s F.

Last month, several readers suggested I harvest haws and make jam or syrup. It probably would have worked out—with enough sugar and someone besides me as cook. So it didn't happen. But I did eat a handful of shriveled haws, straight off the trees.
All hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) produce 'edible' berries, i.e., not toxic (as long as you spit out the seeds, which contain cyanide). But the berries of many species are bland at best. So it was a nice surprise to find the haws on these trees were relatively tasty. They were mealy, but slightly sweet and with a nice flavor. Maybe shriveling up with the hard frosts concentrated sugars and tasty compounds … ?

Why are there rose hips in this post? Because we love color this time of year! These are for Lucy, the original Tree Follower.

After waving to the Woman at the Entrance, who was of two minds that day, I entered the building for my monthly art fix. The main gallery was closed but no matter—the This and That Gallery was open, with new exhibits.

This featured Alexandria Pawlow's Song & Dance:
Decorated skulls by Sophia Spicer—Skull Candy—were on display in That:

This is my contribution to the monthly virtual gathering of tree-followers, kindly hosted by The Squirrel Basket. As the year draws to a close—just one more report on these hawthorns—I've started thinking about a tree to follow in 2020. It's a good time to join in the fun!—more information here.