Sunday, January 13, 2019

Botanical Travel: Where the Weeds Are Strange

lantana, Lantana camara
lantana (Lantana camara)
Growing on the roadsides and vacant lots in Costa Rica, we saw lantana (Lantana camara, vervain family, Verbenaceae). In Hawaii it was Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum, ginger family Zingiberaceae)
Kahili ginger
Kahili ginger
Here is Kahili ginger, the dark green leaves, filling the forest understory in Hawaii
Kahili ginger in forest
All the dark green leaves are Kahili ginger
Wow! Aren't those pretty! But weird weeds to a Coloradan.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Plant Story--Rue, Ruta graveolens, Bitter

Rue. "You'll rue the day..."
garden rue, Ruta graveolens
rue, Ruta graveolens
Rue, Ruta graveolens (citrus family, Rutaceae) is a traditional medicinal and culinary herb, one we don't use much anymore. The plant is also known as garden rue (to separate it from other species of Ruta) and, especially historically, herb of Grace and herbygrass. It is not the same as, or closely related to, meadow rue (Thalichrium species, buttercup family Ranunculaceae) or goat's rue (Galega officinalis, pea family, Fabaceae).

Monday, December 31, 2018

Visiting the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, North Rim
There are great pressures on scenic areas. The internet provides "best" lists, resulting in vast crowds coming to "must see" places. And yet I recommend seeing the Grand Canyon, one of those "must sees." It is a wonder of the world.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Plant Names and Families

Indian temple tree (Plumeria, dogbane family, Apocynaceae)
Some of my earliest blogs (spring, 2013) were about botanical classification because I wanted to explain why I used it.

I recently settled down to read a technical book on ecology and found the references (Somebody 2002, Somebodyelse and Coauthor 2011) distracting. Annoying, actually. There was a time when I read over those without a thought.

I elected from the beginning to include references in this blog, but only at the end. But I do stick in technical plant name information (Fancylatin name, twig family, Fancylatinaceae), every time I mention a plant. I am not about to give that up, intrusive as it is. So perhaps I should explain again.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Homogenized World--Attractive and Useful Tropical Plants

I wrote recently that the wonderful trees of any particular location in the modern tropics were drawn from all over the world, many of them in the 16th century as Europeans explored and colonized.

The same applies to smaller plants

Pineapples (Ananas comosus, bromeliad family, Bromeliaceae), popularly associated with Hawaii, are from Central America and the Caribbean.
young pineapple

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Plant Story - Garlic, Allium sativum, the Great Protector

My kitchen is never without garlic. Is yours?
garlic bulb
Garlic bulb
What is this plant that is essential in cuisines from France to China?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Parks and Wilderness, Access and Overuse

Rocky Mountain National Park
View from Alpine Visitor Center
Rocky Mountain National Park
Recently, the Denver Post published a long article on the National Parks, emphasizing that visitation is up, resulting in very heavy use that is hard on vegetation and wildlife, overcrowds parking lots and creates traffic jams. (Link National Parks Crisis, Nov.  21, 2018: I don't know if you can see it without a subscription but on The Guardian's website I think its accessible link; National Statistics link). Many of the problems can be solved by investing in infrastructure, but not access to solitude. It is harder and harder to have a wilderness experience.
Grand Canyon from the North Rim
Grand Canyon, from the North Rim