View of the
Newport Plum Tree
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
Trees, like clothing, move into and out
of fashion. At the moment, the Newport Plum tree is decidedly
fashionable. Many of my neighbours have planted this relatively
small ornamental tree on their properties because of its startling
colouration. Few trees maintain this deep purple foliage
throughout the growing season, from early spring, to late fall.
Growing to about 5 metres in height, it possesses remarkable hardiness,
even in the frozen winter wilderness of Southern Ontario. (I may
have exaggerated just a little!)
An added bonus provided by the tree
is the profusion of pinkish-white flowers that bloom in early spring
(image above). The two images that follow show this spectacular
In fact, the intensity, and depth
of colour of the tree’s foliage makes one wonder whether some prankster
has done an exceptionally detailed spray-painting job!
Closer views reveal that the tree’s
leaves are oval in shape, and minimally serrated. Notice that the
new growth stems and stalks match the leaf colour, while older branches
are a more mundane light brown. The off-white colour of the
flowers provides a striking contrast with the leaves.
While examining the six images that
follow, notice the oval shape of a flower’s petals. Five such
petals form the flower’s corolla. At the centre of the corolla is
a bright red disk from the circumference of which numerous bright
orange stamens grow. At this magnification it is difficult to
detect the flower’s pistil.
If you look carefully at the two
central flowers in the image below, you will be able to see the single
yellow-brown stigma near the centre of the disk.
Immediately beneath the petals of
the central flower seen below, is evidence of a whorl of pale green
sepals (modified leaves) that protects the petals in the bud stage.
In some flowers these sepals are
bent back, while in others they are in contact with the petals.
Notice that the sepal’s ‘upper’ surface is green in colour, while its
‘lower’ surface is purplish-green. Also note that the sepals are
positioned between the
Shown below is one of the tree’s
buds. As mentioned earlier, the whorl of sepals, (called the
calyx), protects the tightly packed petals and reproductive
structures. Immediately above the bud’s stalk is the lumpy ovary.
As the buds begin to open, the
sepals separate, and the growing petals begin to unfurl. Notice
the strangely shaped glandular hairs, with bulbous tips, that grow from
each sepal’s edge.
Closer examination of a flower
reveals numerous orange, lobed anthers supported by paler hair-like
filaments. You may also be able to identify the single yellowish
brown stigma in each image.
In the newly opened bloom seen
below, the anthers have not yet begun to release their pollen. At
this early stage, the anther’s surface is covered by a thin membrane
that later disintegrates to reveal the pollen. The second image
also shows the irregularly shaped upper surface of the flower’s stigma.
Additional images showing these
multi-lobed, membrane covered anthers follow.
Eventually the membranes begin to
disintegrate, and surprisingly smaller, pollen covered anthers are
revealed. Note that the pollen grains are distributed unevenly
over the surface of the anther.
The next group of images shows a
flower’s single pistil, composed of a bright red columnar style which
supports an irregularly shaped, partially folded, light brown stigma.
Both groups of leaves and flowers
appear to grow from bumpy nodes along the length of a branch.
Note that the groups of flower stalks are at right angles to the group
of leaves in both images.
The sequence of images that
follows, taken with increasing magnification, shows in more detail one
of these ‘growth points’ along the stem.
Another similar sequence reveals an
oval scar, from which a group of flower stalks or leaves has fallen.
Finally, here are three images that
show the veined under-surfaces, and oval shape of a Newport plum
leaf. The finely serrated edge of a leaf is visible in the third
The particular hybrid Prunus cerasifera ‘Newportii’, the
subject of this article, was introduced in 1923 by the University of
Minnesota Horticultural Research Centre. It is a cross between Prunus cerasifera ‘Atropurpurea’
and Prunus cerasifera ‘Omaha Plum’.
The low magnification, (to 1:1),
macro-photographs were taken using a 13 megapixel Canon 5D full frame
DSLR, using a Canon EF 180 mm 1:3.5 L Macro lens.
A 10 megapixel Canon 40D DSLR,
equipped with a specialized high magnification (1x to 5x) Canon macro
lens, the MP-E 65 mm 1:2.8, was used to take the remainder of the
A Flower Garden of
A complete graphical index of all
of my flower articles can be found here.
The Colourful World of
A complete graphical index of all
of my crystal articles can be found here.
Microscopy UK or their contributors.
Published in the June
2011 edition of Micscape.
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