Still More Fruit Cousins

Cherries and plums we find growing wild in the woods and fields. While in many ways the wild trees are unlike those we grow in our orchards, yet, if you look closely at their flowers and fruits, you will find they answer generally to the descriptions you have been reading.

Early in May, when the orchard is still gray and dreary, suddenly we notice that the upper branches of the cherry tree look as though a light snow had fallen. It seems as if the lovely blossoms had burst forth in an hour. One’s heart gives a joyful jump. Summer is really coming. The flowers of May promise the fruit of June.

But when we find the blossoms of the wild cherry, it is several weeks later. Some of the little wood flowers have already come and gone. The trees are thick with leaves before we discover the fragrance of its slender, drooping clusters; for, though in other ways these blossoms are almost exactly like those of the cultivated cherry, they are much smaller, and grow differently on the branches.

This same difference in size and manner of growing you will find between the wild and the cultivated fruits. You country children know well the little chokecherries that are so pretty and so plentiful along the lanes. These hang in bunches that remind you somewhat of the clusters of the currant. They are much smaller than the market cherry; yet if you cut one through, you will see that in make-up it is almost exactly like its big sister.

Those of you who live near the sea find wild beach plums growing thickly along the sand hills. These are hardly larger than good-sized grapes; yet if you cut them open, you see that they are really plums.

In our woods and fields we do not find any wild peaches. The peach was brought to us from far-away Persia. Only in the garden and orchard do we meet its beautiful pink blossoms. To see these growing naturally we must go to their Persian home.

So, while we remember that the cherry, the plum, and the peach belong to one little group because of their likeness to one another, let us not forget that the peach is one of the foreign members of the Rose family.

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