With almost three inches of rain the night before, this cheerful red mushroom popped up in the roots of the Kousa dogwood tree, a native of eastern Asia.
Is it coincidence that the round, red fruit of the Kousa is perfectly ripe at the same time? Though this composition is too predictable, it’s our first Radical Ikebana in situ with two unlikely botanical elements paired side by side right on the ground. No vase. No kenzan prongs.
The smooth-skinned mushroom is about the size of a silver dollar; the intricate honeycomb-clad Kousa fruit is about the diameter of a dime. While both are red and round, the Kousa’s skin is reminiscent of intricate geodesic domes made famous by Buckminster Fuller. Or the mysterious and complex chambers of a bee hive.
The beauty and benefits of a four-season tree like this Kousa dogwood become evident. After the wettest summer on record, its white blooms were more abundant than ever this summer, always blooming in June long after the more common dogwoods bloom in early April. It’s also an evergreen, unlike its Atlanta cousin Cornus florida – so it provides a year-round natural screen on one of our property’s borders. Now in October, the nutritious fruit is a favorite of blue jays, towhees and chipmunks. Ripe fruit is hollowed out by tiny teeth and sharp beaks. Then the ants take over, scurrying inside the open-air amphitheater.
We’ve also learned to recognize when the fruit is perfectly ripe for eating – not too firm and not too soft. Inside the rough red exterior is a sweet yellow pudding akin to a mango. It’s delicious.