Friday, May 17, 2013

Wild nature victorious

This is the season of the cherry blossom. Everywhere the trees are in full bloom. Each year it is a spectacular sight. But if we look closely we see a horror scenario, like something from the movie "Alien".
The beautiful Japanese cherry (Prunus Serrulata Kwanzan) is a cultivar. The branches with the double pink blossoms have been grafted upon a stock of wild cherry (Prunus Avium). The strong wild cherry has been mutilated and robbed of its branches. And then it has been enslaved. And now it is exploited by the weaker, decadent and artificially implanted (elite bourgeois) branches of the cultivated cherry.
But this is an unstable situation. Given the chance, the wild stock will try to make branches of its own. And being wild and more vigorous it quickly starts to overpower the weaker branches of the cultivated scion. If left unchecked, the white, smaller and more natural looking flowers will win.
This does not happen in all the trees, but just in a minority (1 in 10, as far as I can see, in my tiny sample). The ratio of pink to white flowers varies from tree to tree. But the wild variety grows much quicker and gradually overtakes the whole tree, leaving only a tiny bit of pink.
And sometimes the revolution fails and kills all everyone, both the exploiter and the exploited.

I could not resist mixing half-understood Marxism and traditional horticultural techniques. There are several things wrong with the metaphor. The scion still does a lot of work, it does photosynthesis and fruit production. The stock takes care of the root system, absorption of nutrients and mechanical stability. So maybe it is more a case of symbiosis than exploitation? But, from a different angle, the stock can only be truly "itself " when it produces its own leaves and flowers. The stock looks more "alienated" than the scion. But that is only an anthropocentric projection, because we appreciate flowers more than roots. So I'm still undecided.


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