Search This Blog

Friday, April 07, 2006


John C. Fremont was a late 19th century explorer/adventurer enlisted by your federal government to write home about the wild west in the hopes that easterners would become enraptured by his descriptions of vast fertile valleys, go there, settle, and eventually provide the proper demographics for another Walmart or Home Depot.

Fremont also sent many botanical specimens to experts back east to classify. They ended up naming quite a few species after him: including Fremont's cottonwood, Fremont's death camas, Fremont's indigo bush, Fremont's wolfberry, and the flannelbush genus Fremontodendron. The genus is comprised of two species (californicum and mexicanum--Hah!) and many hybrids between and among the tw
o. I presume the one growing in my backyard is a hybrid. It likes it there, has been living and working providing beauty to me and sustenance to insects for over 3 years. It would be a shame to lose it now.

But after a recent very wet storm, I found the tree's trunk (mine is a tree form, not a shrub) bent over at a 90 degree angle so the canopy was on the ground. The trunk had not cracked at all; I was able to push it back up and prop the tree more or less upright after removing much of the leaf mass and some major limbs. I read on that flannelbush is subject to sudden collapse (!!) and death (no!!) probably as a result of excessive wet or from the plant failing to ripen its wood. Huh. So far so good . . . my tree hasn't wilted and is still putting out new growth.

I'm glad I got some photos before the fall, when the fremontodendron was literally dripping with flower-laden branches; and some photos of its visitors.

John C. Fremont went on to do a bunch of things: He was convicted of mutiny; then received a presidential pardon; he ran as the Republican Party's first candidate for POTUS. He made a bunch of money in gold, then lost it all in badly managed business deals. He died of peritonitis in NYC a poorish man. Another interesting side note: one of Fremont's early mentors was Joel Poinsett, the first US ambassabor to Mexico for whom the poinsettia is named.

No comments: