A late drift of gold and russet leaves caught my eye, in a Marais side street.  At some mysterious signal, a row of five, slim young trees were shedding their leaves.  Through rain and wind the leaves had hung on into mid December.  Now on a mild, still afternoon, the leaves were falling.   Leaves were layered on the pavement and more were floating down to join them, leaving a last few stragglers on the trees.

 

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The leaves, rather like a maple, were unfamiliar to me.  Thanks to the city’s online database, I now know that the trees are Malus trilobata, a wild apple, native to Lebanon.

 

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These young trees were planted in 2000, so they’re probably around twenty years old.  They seem to be thriving in their urban habitat and behaving well as street trees. There’s only one forest community of this species left in the wild, in the Horsh Ehden nature reserve in Northern Lebanon.  The Wikipedia entry is unusually lyrical, clearly written by someone who loves this special wild place.

Horsh Ehden … contains a particularly diverse and beautiful remnant forest of the cedar of Lebanon, making the reserve a very important part of the country’s cultural and natural heritage… Stands of cedars are bordered by a mixed forest of juniper, fir, and the country’s last protected community of wild apple trees… The reserve’s beautiful valleys and gorges, with their wild orchids, brightly colored salamanders, mushrooms, and other flora and fauna, are sure to soothe even the most harried visitor.’

I’ve never seen this species as a street tree before and wonder how it came to be chosen; a special offer at the tree nursery or memories of a misty, mountain forest?