|Photo of Yellowwood tree and Monument|
|Drawing of leaf and flowers|
“What kind of trees are these anyway?” the Parks Department man asked. I told him “Yellowwood. American or Kentucky Yellowwood, native to the southern part of the U.S. Very special trees. You don’t see them in this area that much,” I said. “Not only that, but they only flower every other year.” He picked up one of the branches and said, “Look. You’re right. The wood is yellow. Makes sense.” He showed it to one of the other men. And so it was. The actual color of the heartwood of the Yellowwood tree is yellow, especially when freshly cut. According to the Department of Horticulture of the University of Kentucky http://www.uky.edu/hort/Yellowwood, the root bark of yellowwood was used as a dye by people in the southern Appalachians. The wood itself was once used to make gun stocks. The flowers look like pea-flowers. That makes sense because the tree is in the Pea Family, Fabaceae, it has a legume pod that ripens in the fall.
Just a couple of days later, my husband Alan and I went to the Memorial Day event. It seemed especially appropriate as we stood out there in the rain listening to speakers, the playing of bagpipes and taps, and watched the laying of the wreaths, that we were surrounded not only by those remembering those lost in battles but also by trees filled with flowers and leaves that speak to both the past and to the future.