As we walked back to the car from the Plage du Vieil, along the rue du Petit Vieil toward the Plage de la Madeleine — it was only about 500 yards — I noticed a tree that I don't think I'd ever seen before. I thought the fruits were lychees, but it turns out, I've learned thanks to Susan, to be an arbousier, or strawberry tree. It's native to the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastal areas of Europe and the British Isles.
Let me say again how far north Noirmoutier and Saint-Aignan are. Both are located at 47º of latitude north of the equator, which puts them farther north than Quebec City or Duluth (Minnesota). That's almost as far north as the tip top of the state of Maine (north of the town of Caribou, for example). Thank the warm ocean current called the Gulf Stream for the island's mild climate. And France's climate overall.
People were out walking on the beaches or cycling on the streets. This was on October 24. We were walking along the narrow street, which is lined with white-washed walls. I noticed the pin parasol (stone pine, umbrella pine, parasol pine are names for it in English) pictured here. It's a Mediterranean plant, but seems to be thriving in the Noirmoutier climate. It's the pine that give us pignons de pin (pine nuts) for the Provençal cookies called pignons and for pesto.
Here's a Google Maps aerial view of the street and beaches we had walked along. I think I can actually see the umbrella pine on this image. It's just past the Chat Perché restaurant and on the opposite side of the street. We were still looking for a place to have our noontime picnic, but we weren't having a lot of luck so far. It was lunchtime.
Sorry to blast the whole premise of this post out of the water, but your lychee is a Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo. It's a native species to the area. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbutus_unedoReplyDelete
Thanks Susan. I've corrected the post. Moi et les plantes, ça fait deux... Looked like lychees to me.Delete
I've wondered about pine nuts and now I know.ReplyDelete
We have an enormous Arbutus unedo in our front yard. It's unfussy, pretty, and provides shade, though the neighbors aren't fond of the squishy fruit that lands on their driveway.ReplyDelete
I guess I just never noticed these trees in California, not even at your house.Delete
Until about a week ago (when I read otherwise), I thought arbutus unedo was native to the US west/southwest. Our arbutus natives are usually called "madrones;" they look very similar but have tiny polite fruit.Delete
I planted a Parasol Pine about ten years ago, and this year the base has suddenly been ringed by dozens of Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms. A bonus!ReplyDelete
Sweet. I had to look up that mushroom, and it's beautiful.Delete
The arbutus also features in an old Irish song I remember being taught at school:ReplyDelete