Gut Rumbles

May 24, 2008

southern flora

Originally PUBLISHED May 14, 2005

The magnolia tree is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in the South. I've ended up cutting down every one I ever had in the various yards I have owned over the years. Back in the ante-bellem days, people planted magnolias around the plantation house because they provided good shade and their blooms disguised the scent of the hog-pens, the chickens and the outhouse fumes.

But a magnolia tree ALWAYS has something falling out if it. Except for when they bloom, they are a gigantic pain in the ass. The leaves are difficult to rake, the "fuzzy-wuzzies" that fall down right before they bloom are pure-ass, foot-piercing stickers, and the roots run so close to the ground that you can never get grass to grow around one. The flowers smell wonderful, but it ain't worth the hassle.

That's a high-maintenence tree and I won't have one in my yard.

I happen to LIKE mimosa trees. That's the only tree I've ever seen that goes to sleep at night and the red blossoms are both beautiful and aromatic. I tried to plant several over the years, but that was back when I had Bud as a dog, and he thought that anything I stuck in the ground was a new piss-post for him, and he always peed my trees to death.

Have you ever watched a minosa tree go to sleep at night, then awake the next morning? I think that's an amazing sight. All the leaves curl up when the sun goes down; then, they spread out again the next morning when they feel the sunshine. Incredible.

I've always liked weeping willows, too. That's one of the best shade trees ever, and they are pretty to look at. I like the way their branches bend all the way to the ground and almost make a leafy tent. If you use your imagination, you can look at one of those and picture a young widow kneeling by the grave of her beloved husband and crying with her face in her hands. Yes, those willows DO weep.

Live oaks are majestic trees, and I've climbed many ancient ones. Stay out of the Spanish Moss, because it's full of chiggers, but a good live oak has limbs on it that you don't have to climb. You can WALK along those without holding onto anything. Just keep your balance. Some live oaks have limbs thicker than most other tree trunks and they grow to be older than old. I've probably climbed some that were here when Oglethorpe landed in Savannah.

Georgia pines are genuine Cracker trees. They grow in any kind of soil, they grow fast and they ain't worth a damn in your yard. They are good for producing turpentine, pulpwood and two-by-fours. Other than that, they ain't worth diddly-squat. They throw out more got-dam pollen per square inch in the spring than any other tree I've ever seen, and that yellow dust coats EVERYTHING and raises hell with my allergies. DO NOT cook meat over a pine-wood fire. That can make a good steak taste like a railroad cross-tie.

I live among MANY pine trees, and I won't have a tall one near my house. They tend to break off about 5' off the ground in a high wind when they start swaying in their limber way. They also have a disturbing tendency to fall on your house or your car. I believe that they are natural lightning rods, too, because they surely do seem to attract a lot of strikes.

Did you know that Robert E. Lee never saw Kudzu? That's true. Kudzu didn't arrive in the South until the 1890 World's Fair and people thought it might make good cow fodder and stop erosion on hillsides. They planted it, the damn fools. Cows wouldn't eat it (hell, a GOAT won't eat kudzu and a goat will eat almost ANYTHING.) and the shit spread everywhere. Now you see entire hillsides with all the trees covered in that creeping vine. It's almost impossible to kill and it isn't good for anything.

Trivia note: Kudzu grows tall, but it never goes above 40' from it's root. It also can grow 6" in one night. I once had a friend who got drunk at the Athens Old Railroad Station one night and left his car in the parking lot there for two days. When we went back to get it, we had to hack it out of the kudzu that was attempting to devour it at the time. That shit was trying to EAT HIS CAR!

Southern flora. Damn... I love it all.

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