I love visiting places with O’Ceallaigh. From our first walk together at Red Rock in Las Vegas, to our most recent walk together at Kapolei City Park, he is ready, willing and able to point out and discuss every leaf and twig on every plant in a five mile radius. What he doesn’t already know, he comes home and researches on the internet, keeping leaf, flower and bud shape, color, and size all stored in his amazing memory. (Amazing because it never forgets a plant, seaweed or protozoa; but drops dates and appointments with ease.)
For weeks now I have been asking about the flower of a certain tree I’ve only seen in bud. O’Ceallaigh kept telling me, they only bloom at night. The tree is an Autograph Tree, so called because the heavy green leaves have an etch-able outer layer. One can scratch a message on a leaf and it will remain on the tree waving that message for weeks thereafter.
A long dead Autograph Tree blossom, and a new bud.
A wilting, leathery Autograph Blossom with it’s unique “jelly” center.
This was the closest I’d ever come to actually seeing a flower in bloom.
Then Friday, just before sunset, we stepped beneath an Autograph Tree and looked up. Several blossoms had already opened in anticipation of fast approaching night. OC told me to touch the flower. The petals are waxy and sticky-moist. The center quivers like soft-set jello, and sticks to the skin like rubber cement.
I recognized the sap crusted on some leaves as the same substance marring the back passenger-side quarter panel of my car. Once dried, the sap resembles dried varnish. However, finally identifying the substance made me feel a little better about attempting to remove it. My thumbnail, a little hot water and some soap concentrate did the trick.