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'...en doed sterven'. Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas, Stadspark, Groningen, The Netherlands | by Rana Pipiens
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'...en doed sterven'. Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas, Stadspark, Groningen, The Netherlands

Today is Young-Spring Bright. Earlier this week Late-Winter, though Blue-Lighted, hadn't yet given way.

Still the azure sky and a Climbing Sun drew me out to the 'Stadspark' - City Park -, the gift of one of Groningen's greatest industrialists, Jan Evert Scholten (1848-1918), to the city and its inhabitants.There was already a very little bit of evidence of the New Season; but the Closing-Winter sparkle of the blossom of Cornelian cherry caught more of my attention.

Cornelian cherry or European cornel and many more names is for Carolus Linnaeus's Cornus mas (with a set of synonyms among which Cornus sylvestris, Cornus mas pumilio, Cornus hortensis mas).

In 1672, Abraham Munting ( 1626-1683), that close observer of plants and Groningen professor of botany, in his Waare Oeffening der planten writes that the 'Cornoellie-Boom' 'suffers extreme cold and all the inconveniences of Winter well'. Just before his death, Munting revised and expanded his earlier work. It was published in 1696 as Nauwkeurige beschryving der aard-gewassen. In that work he adds to his description of what he now calls 'Cornoeljeboom'. To this he appends a curious remark: 'It is amazing that the fruit of this tree which is caustive to the human body, on the contrary is a purgative to flies and bees when they eat thereof; and it also causes death ('en doed sterven') to bees when they gather honey and wax from its flowers'.

There is such a thing apparently as nectar that is toxic to bees and humans as well (see my posting of May 19, 2008: "Rhododendron in Venlo"), but I've not seen that sweet of Cornus mas mentioned in this context. Can anyone enlighten me, or is Munting just plain wrong?

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Taken on March 8, 2012