Wildflower of the Week by Chick Keller

This week’s flower is covering a tree—chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). As you can see from the photos, the plant’s strategy to get noticed is to cluster its blooms not only in space but in time—all together, all at the same time. To a potential pollinator it looks like a large, long, thin flower. Only when it gets closeup does it find that flower to be made up of many flowers. Actually they look something like tiny roses and indeed this plant is in the Rosaceae family—a rose without thorns!
 
Right now the woods are chock full of these trees in full bloom. In the late summer, many of the flowers will have turned into dark colored cherries. Until they are totally black, they are not ripe enough to eat, and even when they are ripe, they are quite bitter. Interestingly, it is hard to find black cherries later in the season because birds eat them before they are fully ripe. People who grow these to make jelly usually have to cover the entire trees with netting to keep the birds away.
Chokecherry tree laden in flowers.
 
But for now, go outside and enjoy nature at its most profligate.