Sunday, May 4, 2008

Plants Don't Bleed to Death

Most trees don’t commit suicide by bleeding to death.

The same is true for shrubs, vines, and other perennials.

If you’ve ever had maple syrup on pancakes, you’ve eaten a bleeding sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum). Not only do the trees not die, they are tapped again the next season and for as long as 100 years. Same goes for true rubber. Slices in the bark of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis ) allowed the latex sap to dribble into containers. Same tree every year for many years..

The photo on the lower left is a droplet of sap coming from a pruned Kiwi vine. I pruned the second-story vines late this year. (Rain, book to finish, coordinating an assistant, blah, blah, blah…) The end to the remaining vines dribbled like a leaky hose. For days. Now, some four weeks later, the leaves are beginning to show at the bud just behind the cut.

Why, you might ask, Kiwi’s on the second floor of my house that requires two people to lift and position the ladder? I transplanted two vines from a friend’s fence only to find out they were both females. (I have gotten as much as 25 fruits with no male Kiwi around. Figure that one out!) My foremost reason was to provide an arching canopy along the length of the south-facing wall. (I have friends with a multitude of fruit I can share.) The idea was to have a well-shaded house for our hot Indian summer days. I certainly wasn’t planning on a crop two floors off the ground. So, I prune them for shade by cutting most of the vine back to main vine and some laterals. By the end of the summer some of the vines have arched gracefully ten feet, or more, over the patio below. The cloak of the leaves is both beautiful and functional.

You can see my house in early fall in the third photo with a bit of the wall in the sun.

Please post a comment - I want to know what you think.

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