One of the great things about Ellis Library, apart from the fact that it's the largest research library in the state, is that it's surrounded by beautiful flowering trees courtesy of the Mizzou Botanic Garden. This week we're featuring the weeping crabapples next to the north entrance of Ellis Library, the redbuds in the lawn in front of the State Historical Society, and the dogwoods across from the northwest corner (just adjacent to that bed of tulips I wrote about last week).*
Two of the featured trees this week are native to Missouri. Cornus florida, or flowering dogwood, and Cercis canadensis, or Eastern redbud, grow wild throughout the eastern United States. The dogwood is also our Missouri state tree. Crabapples are members of the genus Malus, along with their cousins the domestic apple; various species are native to North America and Europe. While the fruit is edible, its bitter taste and woody texture mean you probably wouldn't want to eat it.
The illustrations featured here are by Mary Vaux Walcott, an artist who specialized in botanical illustration. In 1925, the Smithsonian published reproductions of her watercolors of American plants in five portfolios entitled North American Wild Flowers. Our copy was originally part of the government documents collection and is now in the closed shelf collection. Of the dogwood, Walcott writes,
Dogwood grows abundantly in the favored regions which it inhabits. When the tree is in bloom in early spring, the profuse blossoms appear like a crowd of great snowflakes falling through the interlaced branches.
*While the photos of the redbuds and dogwoods are from this week, I'll admit it: the photos of the flowering crabapples were taken over a week ago. Some years, the flowers don't last long.