By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Because this time of year is so bare, lots of gardeners look for plants with fruit that’s persistent – which just means it sticks around through winter.

Our pretty little native Franklinia tree is one that hangs onto its round brown nutlike fruits, which catch the snow and get covered in freezing rain during cold weather, so the tree shimmers with its decorative ornaments.

It’s pretty to look at, but it’s also pretty interesting if you like plants. Because Franklinia fruits develop slowly, you can see several stages at the same time.

Right now you can see the teensy fruits that began last fall when the flowers finished, the petals fell, and the ovaries started to swell. They’re on display along with much larger fully-grown fruits from the year before, while the most mature ones are now cracking open into jaggedy sections to spill their seeds on the ground in hopes of growing more Franklina trees. And, at the same time, you see buds – which will open this year to begin the process all over again.