Yard Notes: Extra Hugs for Trees (Happy Arbor Day!) and Their Fabulous Fruits

    Why did we abandon the medlar, what was dangling from that Polish tree and who is putting the heat on President Biden?

    Even as Harvard warned of a second straight year of falling revenue, the medical school embraced a more hopeful future, naming the kiwi its fruit of the month. Who are we to disagree, although if someone put us in charge we’d probably nominate the medlar. This fanny facsimile fruit has been turning up during archaeological digs of latrines from the Middle Ages, when the medlar was eaten en masse and served rotten for funkier flavor. Why did it mostly disappear? We’re not quite sure, but any fruit in a bowl seems like a triumph considering it took people 6,000 years to get a domesticated vegetable on our plates. (It was a thorny kind of lettuce used only for seed oil.) 

    Medlar fruit
    The medlar: eaten rotten, never forgotten. (Photo: Alamy)

    We thought chopping onions and slicing tomatoes turned salad-making into an act of labor, but it turns out that’s the simple part compared to what came before: crossbreeding, isolating favorable traits, letting millennia pass until something somewhat tasty is achieved. It might be easier to regenerate new edibles from old scraps, or, even better, forage for stuff. That’s what sheep are doing on Governors Island, where they get paid to chow on invasive plants. (Of course turnabout is fair play, especially Down Under, where venomous serpents showed up in lettuce. A snake in the salad seems worse than one in the grass.)

    If we’re still voting on plant superlatives, then best perm goes to this succulent, Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ Plant. (AND it smells like vanilla? Pinch us we’re dreaming.) 

    But one plant that doesn’t need honorifics is the almighty arbor. Your iCal settings might’ve skipped it, but TODAY IS ARBOR DAY, PEOPLE! We are leaping for joy along with the worms. (Oh, wait, those are just a soil-depleting species of jumping worms that are invading the States.) But for serious, if you aren’t a don of the tree-planting mafia like Joey Santoro, consult the Tree Wizard to find which ones grow in your area, dig a big hole and stick one in! Here’s a handy guide for how to

    Why stop there? Your tree’s going to need some friends, so check out which plants will crank beneath the canopy. (As opposed to pastries posing like ferocious beasts in Polish foliage.) 

    Identifying the creature in this tree befuddled the Internet. Turns out, it wasn’t a creature at all. (Source: Facebook)

    And for the impatient ones out there, planting flowers in upturned stumps can do wonders for your yard. Such stumperies artfully decompose, providing nutrients for flora as they do. Unfortunately, a lot of leafy lifeforms south of the border are getting the chance to fade away. Tree-planting programs in Mexico might be encouraging more chopping, and Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is emboldening chainsaws once again in the Amazon, prompting celebrities from Leo DiCaprio to Philip Glass to urge President Biden to hold back on any environmental agreements without consulting indigenous tribes or civil society orgs.

    We’re not holding back our support, though, for these organizations that support forestry and charitable tree hugging. 

    Let’s root for the home trees,


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