Chokecherry flowers

Seen on a plant walk for the Culture Day at Selfridge Public Schools. I led walks around the school grounds for groups of students from different grade levels. Although they all knew how to identify a chokecherry plant from the presence of ripe cherries, few of them could identify it based on the leaf or the flower.

Many of us, especially when we are first getting to know a plant, rely on just one or two visual cues. That may work fine if it’s a cue that will always remain constant — for instance, the color and texture of the bark — but it can lead to problems if we’re relying on cues that are highly seasonal, such as the presence of fruit.

On this plant walk, we discussed several other ways to identify a chokecherry bush, such as the alternate leaf arrangement, and serrated leaf margin. Even the elementary schoolers were able to master this concept, and successfully identify the next chokecherry bushes we encountered on the walk.

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