Monday, 10 March 2008

THE ALPHABET TREE

Wandering around with one's mind at best only partially fixed to any particular task at hand is one of life's pleasures. It was not too long ago now, whilst in one of these meandering ruminations back in the Autumn of last year, that I made a quite astonishing discovery. I have discovered a tree in the park.
Now, at this juncture I can hear cogs a-whirring and jaws a-flapping saying things like

"A tree in the park isn't unusual, you silly old Rexy"
or
"A tree in the park is akin to finding a shell on the beach"
Well that's all true, but don't pick that shell up, it may still be live and blow your hands off!

And since that kind of surprise is what can be chanced upon in life, the R.A.F. and U.S.A.F. being messy people who leave things like depleted uranium lying around in other countries, a result being less pianists, I refer you all back to the tree in the park. It's no ordinary tree. The photograph above is of some of it's fallen leaves, and of it's bizarre windblown fruits. Yes, it is indeed Dendrofallacium Lexicographii, an alphabet tree.

The alphabet tree is fairly ordinary to the eye in many respects, except of course it's fruits which fall to earth around November and scatter themselves a short distance from the tree. Not every fruit contains a seed which is one of the reasons that the alphabet tree is not as common as many of it's indigenous counterparts. Imported to Britain from as far away as Greece and Turkey by the great arboretum collectors of the 17th to 19th century, this broad leaved deciduous has few uses to man in industry or leisure, and has therefore rarely been introduced to the wider countryside on a large scale.
The fruits are not eaten by many creatures, but it is a widely held folklore belief that animals with the ability to pick things up with their forepaws such as squirrels or rats have used the fruits as educational devices for their young or even to hang above the entrances to their drays, burrows etc as signs for predators to stay away. Flocks of carrion crows were often to be seen wearing large fruits around their necks to delineate between the various rival murders.

Another folklore tale surrounds how each seed containing fruit would lend itself to growing different sized trees depending on the letter shape of it. Though I'm aware of no scientific studies or evidence to back up the 'wives tales', some old verses still get passed on in the oral tradition. One such rhyme goes, to memory, something like this;

The tree of the letter shaped A through to H
Will not grow an inch above yon garden gate
A bough or a branch grown from I to an M
Will wither and die when the size of most men
From N to the Y seeds are not quite as high
As a tree from the letter shaped as a Z
Which will always stand twig branch wood shoulder and head
Above any other in forest or glade
Which are all the letters from which our words are made
.

I think it's lost something in translation, but you get the basic drift.
In the days before the tree was introduced to the bounds of these shores, the natives of it's origins had their own stories bound by it. Of course, in Turkey, the Turkish trees had a different alphabet, as they did in Greece. When imported to Russia, a similar thing occurs. It's as though the tree has a very close bond with the people around it, like it can understand the basic language of those humans around it. Everybody in those countries will tell of how their ancestors could almost feel the trees listening to their thoughts, eager for human contact or even symbiosis.


The ancient Gods of Greece had their own favourite letters from the tree seeds.

I suppose we could all pick our own favourites too. Some would be quite partial to an E, and there are those for whom there is great comfort in an R. I asked the B.F.G. what her favourite is.
I'll leave you to guess what her answer was.

24 comments:

Ju's little sister said...

Who is this BFG to whom you refer?

I've more questions about these trees, do there leaves grow in both upper and lower case? Script? Does one tree produce different versions of the same letter, as a group of people often will?

I'm quite partial to a capital 'G' myself. Or a little 'f'

How would the trees leaf if grown in Viking Land?

Ju's little sister said...

ahem.

Excuse me, 'their' not 'there.'

Metamatician said...

We've got these bloody things growing wild all over the valley where I live. They've actually been declared a public nuisance and firemen are regularly called out to do controlled burns to stop the spread of literacy in America.

It's hard to go wrong with I and O for left-brained purists, but my right noodle is drawn to R for some reason.

Viking Warrior said...

Tis a fecking sycamore tree yon git.

Thesaurus Rex said...

Vikky; 'snot sycamore, it got better. haahaahaa!!!
JLS. You'll have to do your homework and read back to seek the B.F.G. The tree in the park seems to be upper case only. Maybe it's lower case before it reaches full maturity

Thesaurus Rex said...

Meta; Well you are in a foreign land. I expect the N. Cali climate supports quite superb specimens. Go and look for some fruits and make a natural scrabble board, but don't get eaten by bears waking hungry from winter slumbers.

Metamatician said...

Sir yes sir.

Thesaurus Rex said...

And get that hair cut, hippie!!

lorenzothellama said...

BFG could stand for Big Friendly Giant or it could stand for Big Fat Girfriend or it could be Ban Former Girlfriends.

Why is your gorgeous face blanked out Rexy?

Maalie said...

Yes, they are curious plants, I found one as a child. I actually found a fruit that came out like a £ (pound sign), I wonder if it was a mutation.

Also, statisticians have calculated that if you have a plantation big enough, and given enough time, there is a statistically likelihood that the fruits will fall in such a way as to line themselves up as the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Or even the bible. Now there's a thought. Maybe that was how it was gotten to be written.

Metamatician said...

Nah, the monkeys at the typewriters got there WAY before the fruit.

It's a simple question of time-per-iteration. Fruit grows slowly; monkeys type fast, as long as they are constantly fed fruit.

Metamatician said...

As to The Bible, it seems to have been authored by monkeys on the very first go-round.

And my Ten-Pound note is on BFG selecting the Big O. And Bob's yer... wait, I've been using that one too much of late. NVM.

PerlNumquist said...

I think this tree is a variation on the Clangers' music tree.
Incidentally, I have a "contorta" variety in my allotment which only give italics. I had a lovely harvest of diphthongs last season.

Rob Hopcott said...

Ooo arrrrr! There be many straaaange fonts in that there forest.

Through the loooong darrrrk nights, arouuuuund the camp fire, peeeeople tell stories as would make 'ee cringe wit' fear and fair put 'ee off thy Somerset cider.

Peeeeople in these parts tell 'bout them 'dark fonts' but never by name else they that do will die a terrrrrible death (inn agony!)

Never do 'ee mention 'dark fonts' or ....

Aaaaaarghhh!

Maalie said...

BFG is bloody fine girl and her letter will be 'O' but there must be a big fat diamond innit.

Thesaurus Rex said...

All B.F.G. guesses wide of the mark so far.
Welcome perlnumquist, I see you have accepted the guantlet.
Maalie and Meta; Chaos theory and the infinite number of monkeys. Sounds like my kinda party. Break out the Byrrh, letter x and cheese on sticks and don't buy anything from the dodgy looking gorilla in the corner, it's probably just salad.

Thesaurus Rex said...

Rob; I really should pop over to the Cafe and bring one of the locally sourced vowel salads. I think I should have some lingering in the freezer.
Lorro; My other photo was playing up or being played up by blogger or something. This one is probably temporary, unless I feel it suits where I'm at for a while longer.

Magdalene said...

BFG in total agreement here. O is unsurpassable. How was it for you darling?

lorenzothellama said...

Big Fat Girlfriend is home.

Magdalene said...

Ha ha ha! The unsurpassably Jo Brand style humour of Ms Llama :-D

Metamatician said...

I wonder if Russell Brand is related to Jo in any way? I've never seen anyone make Morrissey look absolutely straight in an interview than when he spent some time with Russell. Might as well have been interviewed by Marc Bolan, though he probably would have liked that too much.

Magdalene said...

I wondered that too. They're both very funny people, but with very different styles. Russell is about as camp as you can get.

lorenzothellama said...

Personally I can't stand Russel Brand. Now Jo, well she's one of my role models, along with Patsy from Ab.Fab.

today's word: bolly

Metamatician said...

tomorrow's: -wood.