These funny strawberry-like fruits came from a tree in Berkeley that I passed while walking with a friend. The patterns on them reminded me of cloisonné beads. I picked up a few that had fallen from the tree and was surprised to find them very light and seemingly hollow, rather like marshmallows. I stuck them in my pocket to take home and sketch.
I didn’t have time that day to sketch so left them on a plate in my studio. When I returned to the studio the next day I noticed a foul odor, rather like vomit , and realized it was coming from these “fruits.”
I braved the smell and set about sketching them (quickly). I would have cut them open to discover what was inside but was afraid I’d need a gas mask. As soon as I finished the sketch I bagged them and got them out of the studio, opened the doors and turned the air cleaner on high.
In this case, beauty really is only skin deep. Whatever is under the skin is really yucky. A clever ruse by mother nature to prevent them from being eaten?
Mystery solved. One of my readers on Facebook put the query out to her horticultural friends and here’s what they reported:
The tree is Cornus kousa, one of the very best small tree/large shrubs. Spectacular in bloom, late spring, then very decorative in the fall. Good for birds. I found this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkkcWtQSgIY