A Trial of Fruity Proportions

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Pineberry, also known as white strawberry.

Hey! Ever wanted to go out and try as many different types of fruit as humanly possible? Me too! Living in the Pacific Northwest I am afforded the unique opportunity to try all sorts of fruit that is available up here, that is not commonly available in other areas. Blame the weather, the geographical location or whatever; Portland has a lot of fruit. This got me thinking, we as consumers,  only have access to a few varietals at the grocery store. These varietals are ones that do not rot quickly, can take some abuse from travel and taste moderately good to the majority of the population. What other flavors are out there? When is an apple not an apple, but tastes more like a watermelon? This set me on the path of trying fifty different fruits one year. Fifty is not much. There are about a gazillion varieties of apples alone, but fifty is hard to find when you are trying to get stuff at the grocery store. I scoured every grocery store, fruit stand and farm I could find within fifty miles of Portland. I wrote down everything, I made my friends sample and be guinea pigs with me. It became a slight obsession for 2012.

 

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Durian. King of the funk. 

I learned some interesting things. Firstly, it is really a shame that we have only a few varieties at major grocery stores. It teaches kids that all apples are Red Delicious, oranges are Sunkist, and watermelon is the red kind with the seeds that you spit out. Did you know that Apples come in every color imaginable and span the taste spectrum? I tried ones that tasted like celery to ones that looked like a watermelon but taste like an orange. My favorite orange fruit is bright pink and lacks the sharp acidic bite that Sunkist oranges have. Fingerling limes are way cool; it looks like caviar but is actually lime flavor explosions that pop in your mouth.

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Horned melon, which is just really freaking weird tasting. 

Horned melon is something from another planet. It tastes like if beer and grass had a baby. I took this one to a friends house and made them suffer along with me for the sake of SCIENCE! Durian smells like week-old socks but tastes odd and interesting. Plumcots are amazing little bits of sunshine in a purple shell and kumquats are not good no matter how you eat them, roll them or beg them to be sweet.

 

It was a year of fruity adventure. Now that I have my garden going, I am putting in some strange fruits to try this year. Let’s see what I can do with white strawberries.

 

Start of my Tree Bucket List. Yes, Seriously.

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
Warren Buffet

 

It’s a weird thought to want to make a tree bucket list. Weird enough that I am a little embarrassed about this. I mean, trees are trees, right? There are literally billions of them on Earth. What makes one more special than another? You could probably find some majesty in any tree. I suppose for me though it is a combination of aesthetic, history, and a sheer will to live.  Plus, I love gardens and pretty much anything that grows in the ground. I am an avid gardener, master gardener, and I went to school and graduated with a degree in landscape architecture; plants are my thing. When doing some research for my tree bucket list, I came across this article on stumbleupon.com.  The Most Beautiful and Famous Trees on Earth.  It became my starting point for research. What beautiful trees are out there and how do I get to them?

  • The Lone Cyprus Tree in Monterey California. -According to Wikipedia, it is one of the most photographed trees in America. When I spoke about the sheer will to live or tenacity, This is the sort of thing I was referring to. I may be attributing too much to a lone tree, but it is poetic how it faces down the ocean and still, it grows. Besides Pebble Beach is gorgeous; I would like an excuse to visit as often as possible.
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Image courtesy of wikipedia.com
  • Ashdown Forest, West Sussex, EnglandThis totally makes me think of the Shire. I am a geek, and this makes me giddy.
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Image courtesy of Colin Michaelis

I know that this is not technically a single tree, but a bunch of trees. i.e., a forest. But…

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  • Rainbow Eucalyptus In Kauai, Hawaii – Please someone send me to Hawaii so I can see this tree and, um.. other reasons.
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Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

“The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray. The colours of the bark are not as intense outside the tree’s native range” wikipedia.com

How cool is this? It is the Rainbow Bright of tree species.

  • Baobab Tree in Madagascar – This tree is so interesting; it stores water in its giant trunk and basically looks like something from Dr. Seuss. Some trees can store up to 32,000 gallons which they save for drought conditions.
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Image courtesy of wikipedia.com
  • The Dark Hedges in Ireland – “The Dark Hedges are an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The trees form an atmospheric tunnel that has been used as a location in HBO‘s popular television series Game of Thrones, which has resulted in the avenue becoming a tourist attraction.” I have never seen Game of Thrones, blasphemy I know, but this looks like it could transport you to any number of fantasy novel locales. Let your imagination run wild.

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    Image courtesy of wikipedia.com
  • Dragonblood Tree – Dubbed the worlds strangest tree. I mean, seriously look at it. It also “bleeds” red sap.
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    Image courtesy of Wikipedia

    This is just touching on some of the interesting trees of the world. There is so much out there to see and to do. I’ll come up with a formal list at some point  I am sure. Plus, I have already seen a few awesome ones like the maple tree at the Japanese Garden in Portland or the Chamerops in Padua, Italy. I even have some cool pictures. What kind of trees do you like?