Books in sync with nature.

A Tree of Questionable Virtues (many of them good, I swear)

What started out as an innocent post about a certain pepper tree that I’ve grown to love, has turned into a horror story of epic proportions. I’ve discovered that my beloved Brazilian pepper is nothing more than an invasive, non-native weed, reviled throughout the horticulture/environmental communities. A menace to the native plants that our wildlife and pollinators need for their very survival. On multiple “Most Hated” lists. I’m so sorry, but while I was starting my innocent affaire de coeur with my pepper tree (which lives in my neighborhood public garden), all I could see was its intrinsic beauty. In its defense, it is at this moment playing host to a large colony of honeybees who are gathering pollen from the nearby orange trees and pollinator garden.  So, maybe not all bad?

With apologies to my dear hort friends and colleagues, I’d like to pay homage to a very old tree who doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone where she is, and who personifies for me the dignity and beauty, steadfastness and nurturing of a true and worthy fellow creature. She (I know, I’m anthropomorphizing here) is actually rather ugly to the casual gaze, with lumps and bumps and limbs akimbo, but I think I see the true being.  It has little to do with the outward, but almost everything to do with her intangible virtues. I visit daily and put my hands on her rough exterior and give gratitude for what she can teach me. Add patience to that list. Somebody once wrote, “All things speak of other things. Wherever I walk is a parable.” My pepper tree speaks to me.

(But I would never, ever plant one in my own garden. And don’t get me started about bamboo along a fence line!)

Someone else cares for my ancient friend too, and adorned her with flowers.


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