“[The] only way to survive a deadly blaze is…. Oh, heck. Life’s too short for fire safety! Let’s go out and pick wildflowers!”
From The Reason For Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:
“American gardens have been greatly enriched by ancient and modern Chinese horticulture. The Chinese were the first to import and develop fruit trees (cherries, pears, peaches, and plums) from Persia (now Iran) or other Mediterranean countries. These trees were imported by caravans along the famous Silk Road, extending four thousand miles from China to the Mediterranean, especially during the Han Dynasty (206 BC — AD 220). The Chinese turned these fruit and timber trees, once used to make furniture, into blossoming ornamentals….
“We have also benefited from the Chinese love of early-flowering native trees and shrubs…. It’s the Chinese who gave the world the moutan, or tree peony, flowering crab apple, daylily, camellia, and daphne as domesticated plants.”
I think I watched The Simpsons for a decade before it dawned on me that the last name of Bart Simpson’s teacher — Edna Krabappel (pronounced “kruh-bopple”) — was a play on the word “crabapple” (or “crab apple” if you prefer). Once I realized it, though, “krabappel” got stuck in my head and I could no longer refer to the tree by its proper name. “Krabappel trees”, “krabappel blossoms”, inedible krabappel apples (!!) — these terms have filled in for “crabapple” ever since. My browser just tried to set me straight, though, by actually auto-correcting “krabappel” to “crabapple” — wtf! — an obvious internet conspiracy to mess with my brain. The conspiracy has failed: the first gallery below features a series of krabappel flowers I found poking their way into spring, on a recent Oakland Cemetery gardens photo-shoot.
Like many of the residents of fictional Springfield, characters like Mrs. Krabappel — who passed away in 2013 — achieve iconic status because they’re so relatable, as reflections of real people we’ve known, or, as often, a composite blend of real people that the character represents. Mrs. Krabappel reminded me of at least three teachers I had growing up: one of unlimited energy with a boisterous laugh who taught me to love reading; one who was notorious for tossing blackboard erasers at inattentive students and eating bananas while lecturing the class; and one whose infamy matched Krabappel’s in her tendency to drink too much, drape herself over barstools at a local dive bar, and live in blissful oblivion of the reputation she had earned. Lessons learned: read as many books as you can (and laugh a lot); paying attention matters (and bananas are good for you); and live as if it doesn’t matter what people think of you (because it doesn’t).
Best of luck now referring to krabappel trees, krabappel blossoms, and krabappel fruit by their proper name, should you come across some in real life. 🙂
While I was working on post-processing the photos below, I thought they, too, were krabappel blossoms. But then I noticed that the colors didn’t seem to match, nor did the structure of the opening flowers. PlantNet to the rescue: it identified these as cherry blossoms, with a slim possibility that they’re almond tree blossoms instead. They’re definitely not krabappels.
Thanks for reading and taking a look!