Shade Metals

Species Specific Botanical Jewelry

flowers

Cherry, Asian (Prunus serrulata)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and parts of India

DESCRIPTION:

Small deciduous tree with delicate pink flowers that bloom in early spring The bark is smooth with horizontal stripes, and it grows alternating toothy leaves after it blooms.

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com


TREE DIPLOMACY:

The US and Japan began exchanging flowering trees over 100 years ago. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the US 3000 cherry trees. Those trees took 8 years to plant in Washington DC and are still commemorated each year with the Cherry Blossom Festival. The US responded in 2012, giving Japan 3000 flowering dogwoods, some of which were planted at a memorial for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

cherry-branch-necklace-prunus-serrata.jpg

PRUNING:

As a tree steward part of my work involves pruning street trees. Trees in urban environments often get too much sun and water, because they tend to grow alone instead of with other trees close by. This means that they grow very quickly, which can effect the long term health of the tree. Pruning helps to control this overly rapid growth, particularly in young trees, which helps them to live longer and to be more equpit to handle the hazards of city life - hazards include cars and people breaking off branches, power lines, bikes parked against their trunks which opens the bark up to infection, toxins in the air and water etc.

Early spring is the best time to prune. The trees are just waking up from their dormant state, and they will have the rains of spring and the summer sun to recover from the pruning. We use several different species of branches in our work, but collecting young cherry branches is always one of my favorite foraging tasks.

Cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. crisata)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE:

Tropical climates. This particular variety is thought to originate either from West Africa or India, but various species of this plant grow in tropical regions throughout the world.

DESCRIPTION:

An herbaceous shrub growing no more than 2 feet high with juicy fat stems, lanceolate (pointy at both ends) leaves, and wooly, wavy flower heads.

cockscombs, celosia argentea var crisata, ID 66040885 © Santipap | Dreamstime.com copy.jpg
celosia garden ID 97068442 © Mansum008 | Dreamstime.com

celosia garden ID 97068442 © Mansum008 | Dreamstime.com

FOOD:

All parts of the plants are edible. While it is technically a psudeo-cereal in the amaranth family, it tastes something like spinach, or basil, but without the bitterness of many leafy vegetables.

Its nutritional value includes calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A & C, and some protein. It is most popular in Nigeria, but it is also part of the cuisine in Congo, Benin, and Indonesia. In the Yoruba language it is reffered to as “soko yokoto” the food that makes husband’s face rosy, because it is rumored to enhance both physical and sexual stamina. The Nigerian stew made with celosia leaves is boiled with fish or meat, onions, eggplant, palm oil, hot peppers and sometimes a bit of peanut butter to enhance the nutty flavor of the leaves.

Celosia is attracting attention in the agricultural realm because of its ability to grow quickly in a variety of conditions. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that celosia’s genetic abilities has made it a valuable crop for areas with difficult growing conditions. It can grow in both wet and dry climates, without much preference for soil type, and with a hardy resistance to pests and disease. Read their report here.

celosia ID 111491628 © Asim Hazra | Dreamstime.com

celosia ID 111491628 © Asim Hazra | Dreamstime.com

The flaming bright flower stalks gave celosia its scientific name, which comes from the ancient Greek word κήλεος (kḗleos) that means burning

celosia ID 73448509 © Maksym Fesenko | Dreamstime.com optimized.jpg

FLOWERS:

Celosia is an annual, so it completes it journeys from baby seed to mature flower producing seeds in a matter of months. If you’ve ever left cut celosia sitting around too long, you know that it can drop hundreds of tiny black seeds overnight, so it generally has no problem reseeding its territory every year.

Most Celosia varieties grow with straight, vertical stalks, but celosia argentea’s flower has mutated into firm and fuzzy brain-like clusters. These are the pieces we use to make rings and pendants. The positive mold of each cluster has to be thickened with wax so that when the negative of the mold is made, the silver is able to flow freely into the various channels and textures created by the flower.

Poppy, Golden (Eschscholzia californica)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE:

Southwest US & Mexico

DESCRIPTION:

Cup shaped meadow flower ranging from bright red to yellow. Grows on a long stem with fern like delicate foliage

golden poppy ID 95009056 © Iva Villi | Dreamstime.com

golden poppy ID 95009056 © Iva Villi | Dreamstime.com


Poppy Apocalypse in Lake Elsinore, CA ID 142564849 © Kilmermedia | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Poppy Apocalypse in Lake Elsinore, CA ID 142564849 © Kilmermedia | Dreamstime.com.jpg

POPPY APOCALYPSE

In March of 2019 tens of thousands of tourists descended on the hills of southern California to see the “superbloom” of poppies. A record bloom turned the hills orange, and several small towns were overwhelmed with the visitors vying to get the perfect photo.

The mayor of Lake Elsinore CA, where this photo was taken declared a “Poppy Apocalypse” after his small town was invaded by 100,000 tourists in a single day.


FOOD & DRUGS:

This species of poppy produces edible seeds & oil, and sometimes the flower itself is used as a garnish. Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, is native to the Middle East and Western Asia. That species is highly controlled by international agencies because it can produce opium, heroin, and codine. The DEA even raided Monticello in the 90’s because the historically accurate gardeners had continued to grow the flower that Thomas Jefferson orignially brought to the Americas.