Lombardy Autumn  by Stan Sykora

Mushrooms in a tree cavity   Japanese persimmon

Autumn is here again, testified by the bright colors of the fallen leaves of an apple tree (left). Fittingly, the ageing trunk is covered by moss thriving on fog moisture and a family of parasitic mushrooms nested in one of its wounds (probably a common edible variety of the genus pleurotus). Another typical Autumn sight in northern Italy are the kaki trees (local term cachi with the same pronunciation). They have already shed their leaves and the maturing orange fruits constitute a welcome garden decoration that will last almost until the end of the year.

Kaki fruits

The name of the fruit of Persimmon trees (genus Diospyros, meaning the fruit of the Gods) is Japanese, though the plant's origin is in China. It has been introduced to Southern Europe in early 19-th century and became very popular everywhere in northern Italy whose sub-Alpine habitat is ideal for its cultivation. In Spring and Summer, the plant resembles very much a common apple tree; it takes the Autumn to make it stick out in a garden or an orchard. Like the more "southern" oranges, its delicious apple-sized soft fruit matures between late November and end of December and thus constitutes a typical North Italian Christmas special.

Castano Primo, Lombardy Region (Italy), November 20, 2009

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