"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Leaf of the Day: Rattlebox Pod and Leaf

I went to the Gardens today and spent quite some time just wandering the paths. The light is beautiful at this time of the year. The low angled sun picks out features that you may have missed before. It must be a year now since my first brief visit and I am beginning to see some of the same plants in bloom. Leu Gardens is well know for its huge camellia collection and they are just beginning to blossom. I have not been a great fan of camellias before, the flowers seem to spoil very easily looking brown and very unattractive but I have already seen bushes with big eye catching white flowers. I do like white flowers, particularly against the deep blue green of these leaves. I will be taking a series of photos of the different varieties. Prepare for camellia overload. I may even paint one!


I am not sure of this variety, it was just a passing shot.

My drawing today is not of some strange fish which it rather resembles but the broken pod of the Rattlebox Tree, Sesbania punicea. I had seen the tree some time ago and have been waiting patiently for a couple of pods to mature and rattle! The flowers are long gone now but are pretty and typical of the Fabacea family earning it the perhaps more attractive, but less interesting name Scarlet Wisteria tree.



The pods have a very interesting structure and when dry do make a wonderful rattling sound. Killerplants here and image above describes the pods as having
" four 'wings'. and when mature, the seeds loosen and rattle within the pod. (This trait is totally unnerving to field personnel who are expecting to come upon rattlesnakes)"
I have not met with a rattlesnake yet so am not quite sure of the exact sound.


I found this wonderful old engraving by Paul Hermann Wilhelm Taubert (Wiki here )
from 1891, which shows, in a very modern schematic way, the 4 wings and the seeds, much better than my broken pod.
This is my photograph of the Sesbania taken earlier today with more rattles forming.


Unfortunately this appears to be another unwelcome and invasive species and despite its attractive pods this is a poisonous plant, similar, I imagine to the laburnum in the UK.
Tomorrow more poisonous beans!
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Rattlebox Pod and Leaf


2 comments:

Georgia said...

The persimmon is my favorite (fall) fruit, so I was pleased to discover your drawing.

I found your site via I likE Plants.

sharp green pencil said...

Georgia! thankyou so much.. Gosh the persimmon was some time ago . I really wanted to draw another one but there are so many fruits I havn't tackled yet.. spoilt for choice here...