Eager to visit some of my favorite spots after our unusual February freeze, I trekked out to the San Bernard Oak last weekend. Conditions along the boardwalk leading to the champion Coastal Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) differed considerably from those I’d found last May — ‘lush’ and ‘verdant’ having been replaced by ‘sere’ and ‘bare.’
Still, some of the empty space around the bottom of the tree was intentional. A second visit last spring showed evidence of human hands at work; much of the growth around the trunk had been cleared away, leaving room for an American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) to thrive.
As a native shrub, the beautyberry had a decent chance of surviving our unexpected ice and snow. At first glance, its transformation into a collection of sticks didn’t seem to bode well, but when I took a closer look, I found tiny leaves, less than a half-inch long, emerging from those bare branches.
As temperatures rise and rain falls, leaves will increase, buds will follow, and flowers will lead to fruits.
When the berries finally appear, birds and other woodland creatures will feed on them, while humans will rejoice in their beauty, and perhaps make a little jelly or wine for their own enjoyment.