Thursday, May 28, 2009

The surprising goldenchain.

I remember during the spring of my first year in Vancouver, the appearance of the Goldenchain trees (Laburnum). One week, they weren't there, the next,*plinnnggg,* they lined the streets. "Plinnnggg," by the way, is a harp-like glissando noise, what I imagine the trees make as the flowers unfurl.

These years later they still surprise me. I have been standing next to this one all winter long without knowing what it was. It's where I would station my tripod when photographing the neighbourhood Anna's Hummingbird. I saw it as a shrubby little tree, and didn't give it a second thought.

But no, *plinnnggg,* it's a Goldenchain. Which Laburnum it is I'm not sure. There are two wild species, native to the mountains of southern Europe, L. anagyroides (Common Laburnum) and L. alpinum (Alpine Laburnum). Most often cultivated is a hybrid of the two, which has the most extravagant flower clusters.

Note the pea-flowers. Yes, it is a legume. A leguminous tree, but beware of the peas. They are poisonous, an unpleasant surprise.

But the *plinnnggg* is a very pleasant surprise indeed.

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