As you know, my friends and I have been exploring …
We managed to send in the remote probe to take photos of the thing, a portentous plant or growth of some kind, in or near the epicenter of the ecclesial force vectors emanating from the Chancery of the Diocese of Kansas City St. Joseph, The SSPX parish St. Vincent’s and, of course, the HQ of the National Catholic Fishwrap.
Our investigations may have actually changed the balance of forces! We saw, for example, that the NCR the other day praised Bp. Finn!
Some of the data has come back and we have subjected it to analysis. While I wait for the Holy Father to arrive at Lambeth Palace, I decided to share some of the ominous findings.
Here is some of the analysis:
Sorry the tree ID has taken a while. It’s been a bit perplexing because what I can see of it doesn’t quite match any of the classic descriptions. The leaves look like something between a chestnut and a beech (both in the same family, at least), but the twigs are definitely not beechy (smooth and grey), nor are some of the characteristics quite like the native chestnut that appears in my guides. However, it is quite possible that the specimen is a hybrid of American and Chinese chestnut; they hybridize freely and are being used as ornamental plantings to replace the native chesnuts that have almost been wiped out by chestnut blight. The hybrids have much better resistance to the fungal blight. I can’t see some of the characters we would use to ID things because there are no fruit or flowers to be seen. Were there any burs or nuts around? I can’t tell what the trunk looked like. Single stem or branched near the ground? Color? Smooth or rough? Leaves hairy on the underside? Twigs smooth or hairy? All of those characters might help, but you could also ask the KC streets department if they have arecord of what they planted there, assuming they are in charge of it. :-) Anyway, our best guess is some hybrid chestnut. (For the person who wanted the Linnean name, the genus would be Castanea and the species unknown, but possibly a hybrid of dentata and mollissima; Castanea means chestnut, dentata = toothed; mollissima = very soft). Of course, we could be wrong. "We" includes me, my plant systematist colleague, […], and her PhD student.
There it is.
In the meantime, steady your nerves now with a piping hot mug filled with….
It’s swell and not a bit portentous!