Franklinia Today Part 3: Beth’s Travels on the Bartram Trail 62

A journey of discovery…

Franklinia Leaves against Red Oak background by Beth Thompson

Franklinia Leaves against Red Oak background by Beth Thompson

The crisp scent of fall air mingled with the scent of sunshine pricking salty sweat on my forehead as I climbed the hill towards her. Her blossoms’ fragrance drifted through the air to me at the same time as the musty oder of dry leaves crunching underfoot. The blooms glowed on her surrounded by fall glory. Her leaves shone as red as a candied apple yet I wouldn’t think of biting into them, as her red leaves were as flat as paper, drying in the autumn sun. Juicy green leaves still hung from the tree framing each improbable blossom like paw paws, yet I wouldn’t taste those either, for her medicinal value is lost in the echelons of time.

Fall Franklinia Flower by Beth Thompson

Fall Franklinia Flower by Beth Thompson

Wearing candied apple red…

She was dressed up in those red candied apple leaves, green juicy leaves, with her crowning joy of white blossoms with yellow pistils. Flowers where bees tumbled happily rejoicing in her nectar as if Winter wasn’t coming at all. Deeper into her bosom I could see where lichen dressed her limbs, all grey blue and ruffly. However her true nature was revealed at the base of her trunk, where the striation upon her bark identified her to me for once and for all as a Franklinia alatmaha.

Lichen dressing the Franklinia

Lichen dressing the Franklinia

Speaking in sunlight and breezes…

She spoke to me with the sunlight dancing off her shining green leaves. She rustled at me in the breeze as her marauding bees buzzed in the late fall sunshine. Her song was gentle and soft, abiding where she had been planted. Yet how powerful this tree’s desire to survive—despite being extinct in the wild—that her beauty had beckoned the Bartram’s to collect and cultivate her all these centuries gone by?

Franklinia in Autumn by Beth Thompson

Franklinia in Autumn Possible Perception by Beth Thompson

She loves the bees, they flock to her bosom along with ants, monarchs, and pollinators of all sorts, for she will continue to make seed, seeds that still today attract scientists and naturalists of all types.

Scientist collecting seeds by Beth Thompson

Scientist Heather G. collecting seeds by Beth Thompson

She is as extraordinary and rare as a tree playing a symphony.

Red Franklinia Blossom by Beth Thompson

Red Franklinia Blossom Possible Perception by Beth Thompson

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