Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hound Berry Tree

What is a hound berry tree?
A dogwood.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary,
the dogwood tree has been known by a number of names since the mid-16th century:
hound berry, hound tree, dog's berry,  dog-tree, and corn tree are a few.
There is no definitive answer as to where the name comes from;
it is an etymological mystery, I'm afraid.
Regardless of name, what is more beautiful in spring
than a mature dogwood in the landscape?
Here are a few reasons I love dogwood trees:

The branching habit of younger trees is starkly upright, but I reserve my affection for
 the gnarled branches that spread horizontally only after the tree has aged.
And I love how ...
Dogwood blossoms appear like delicate lace across a green tableau.

They grace roadside woodlands

and soften the angular lines of the houses they stand next to.

Up close, their simplicity is their elegance.

The dogwood is a lovely tree with a perplexing, rather prosaic name.
But Shakespeare reminds us:
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet.

So here's to the hound berry tree,
whose real beauty is only realized in its maturity.

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