Monday, August 13, 2007
I believe these are the flowers of the remarkably beautiful and delicate tree, Franklinia altamaha. The tree was first "discovered" by European Americans in the wild when the Bartrams found it near the Altamaha River in Georgia. It is a mysteriously singular plant, not similar to any other genus of trees. After the Bartrams (John and William, father and son) collected seed from the tree, described it, grew it in their garden, and named it for their friend Ben, it was NEVER SEEN AGAIN in the wild! Scientists believe it became extinct due to a fungal disease which arrived in Georgia with the cotton plant. This gorgeous tree has been propagated by commercial nurseries and is now easily available for ornamental planting. This morning while coming into town I saw a lone bloom on a highly stressed tree unwisely planted as a street tree. My picture is of some much happier blossoms on a tree I saw in a botanical garden several years ago.