That’s peach blossom! Wild peach blossom! It’s an old tree and I don’t know if it produces fruit, but the blooms are fantastic.
I wish we had more of these growing wild. And more fruiting peach and apricot in towns too, rather than ornamental cherries, which seem too ubiquitous to be attractive now (and what is with our obsession with growing fruit trees that don’t provide fruit?).
Not only is peach a great food for humans and bees, but it’s also good medicine. You can use most parts of the tree including the blossoms, leaves and fruit. The effect is both cooling and moistening, a double boon in Central Otago and other hot, dry places where these trees grow well. I make blossom and twig tincture and dry the leaves for tea. The tincture is a fine relaxing herb, helping diminish hot conditions. The leaf tea I am still figuring out. You can read more about peach medicine here.
Two other things about this particular peach tree. One is that it is growing in a dip in the land and is undergrown by yellow tree lupin (Lupinus arboreus). Any decent rain will have run off to the roots of this tree. And the lupin is nitrogen fixing which means it will be helping with the soil fertility. Both of those probably led the peach to grow there. I’d love to see trees like this in the wild taken care of, utilising the natural advantages already there (the tree grew because some things were right about this particular site) and building on that to plant out from this oasis of fertility. I’m not sure what goes well with peach but I’d guess any of the orchard companion plantings would be a good start. Central Otago is one of our most degraded landscapes, and it’s fascinating to see what grows here despite this. I love the tenacity of this tree to have established and survived for years without any help from us other than the original throwing of a peach stone. We could learn alot.
The other cool thing is that the trunk and branches have alot of usnea on them.
Usnea is a medicinal lichen, very good for helping heal bacterial infections. There’s not enough to harvest from this tree (it’s too dry and the lichen is very short), but in the bush you will see it growing long and straggly.