Figure 1. Cherry tree. St. Clare/St. Paul School, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

In April I toured our neighborhood enjoying the cherry blossoms. In front of the St. Clare/St. Paul parochial school just down the street I paused to snap some pink weeping cherries growing amid the white Japanese cherries (figures 1, 2). I noticed then that the weeping cherry had either been grafted, or inosculated to the Japanese cherry.

Figure 2. Cherry tree showing effects of graft. St. Clare/St. Paul School, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

I am not enough of an arborist to distinguish between the possibilities; and many years have passed since the graft took place, making it still harder to see if it was conscious or not (figures 3, 4).

Figure 3. Cherry tree graft. St. Clare/St. Paul School, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

St. Paul parish was formed in 1886 in the Green Ridge area of Scranton. It’s comparatively far from my house, but it grew over the years, and in the post-WWII era not only did St. Paul’s grow but it grew so large that it sent out shoots and grew a mission church in our section of Green Ridge by building St. Clare’s church, parish school, and convent. I pass it every day, and the tree in question is on the campus.

Figure 4. Cherry tree graft detail. St. Clare/St. Paul School, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Now comes the question: does this history bear upon the cherry tree? Put another way, did this duplex tree evolve naturally, through inosculation, when two cherry trees rubbed against one another and as a result grew together, or did it come into being thanks to intelligent design, thanks, that is, to the conscious desire of a grafter? I’d like to think that it came about consciously, as the Great Grafter created a symbol of the unity of St. Clare’s and St. Paul’s parishes upon completion of the former in the 1950s. Only some olde timey photos can settle this great graftationist debate!

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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