Sunday, November 10, 2019

Plant Story--Chicory, Roadside Blue

chicory flowers

You see chicory on the roadside during the morning commute, a splash of bright blue. Coming home, you don't notice it. When you think about it, the blue flowers aren't generally out in the fields either.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Plant Common Names--Rules and Customs

Solanum lycopersicum, tomato
tomato, Solanum lycopersicum
The scientific community has given every plant a single scientific name, written as if it were in Latin (link). But mostly people call plants by a common name, one in the local language. Many--if not most--common names are unlike the scientific name.
apple tree, Malus domestica
apple tree, Malus domestica

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Visting Michigan--Late Summer Splendor

forest in central Michigan

There are lots of places to see in Michigan. I attended the University of Michigan and over the years visited many parts of the state. I had the opportunity to return this fall. The trees were tall and green, the forest dotted with meadows and ponds.

Here is a look at central Michigan habitats, roughly the area near Grand Rapids.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Plant Story--Day Flower, Commelina

dayflower, Commelina
dayflower, Commelina
Dayflowers were still flowering in late September this year. They are small plants with attractive blue flowers, peeking up through the grass all across North America. The scientific name is Commelina and there are a half dozen species found in North America, about half of them native. Worldwide, there are some 40 species.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Plant Story--Fragrant Oregano, Origanum vulgare

oregano, Origanum vulgare

When I was a beginning gardener, decades ago, I tried to grow all the spices of my kitchen shelf: sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and so on. I have had oregano in my gardens ever since.

Common oregano, also called Greek oregano, pot marjoram, and wild marjoram, is Origanum vulgare in the mint family, Lamiaceae (also called Labiatae). Origanum is the Greek name for the plant, although you can read the more romantic explanation that it is a combination of óros and gános meaning "mountain splendor" or "mountain joy," perhaps both are true. The species epithet, vulgare, means "common." Oregano in native to southern Europe where it has a number of close relatives, such as sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana).

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Climate Change is Local

There are lots of places to look to see that global warming is happening: the average temperature of the earth has been higher and higher every year (graphics and charts at NASA); around the world glaciers are melting (National Geographic; NASA); pretty much everyone who keeps records has seen record highs recently, for example, France (link) and Alaska (link).
Fox Glacier, New Zealand 2009
Fox Glacier, New Zealand, 2009
But weather and climate are complicated.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Visiting China--Shanghai Scenes

Pu River, Shanghai

Almost every tour of China goes to Shanghai. With 24 million people, it is China's largest city and #9 in the world. If you count only cities and not their suburbs, it is the biggest city in the world. It grew more than 10% each year over most of the last 20 years.