A Wandering Botanist
Tales of a lover of plants, history and travel.
Sunday, June 4, 2023
Writing History to Better See the Present
Sunday, May 28, 2023
Plant Story - Horsetails, Equisetum species, Doing Just Fine
Horsetails are odd enough that long ago when I knew very few plant names, I saw one and asked "what is this?" The hollow jointed stems are not like much of anything else. I learned not just that it was a horsetail, but that its an ancient plant. My college textbooks spoke of fossiles from the Carboniferous, 300 million years ago, that are virtually unchanged in structure; the genus Equisetum might be the oldest surviving genus of plants on earth. There were horsetails 60 feet (18 meters) tall. Today there are still some in Mexico and Central America that grow to 20'. Wow.
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Patience...and the Gardener
Patience is an important virtue for gardeners, one that is not praised enough.
Winter ends when winter ends. The last frost is months after it is nice enough to wish to plant marigold seeds and tomatoes. I can't speed it up. Planting too early just kills the plants. So I wait. Like it or not.
|nice weather but plants not up much (March)|
Patience would make that easier.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Plant Story-- Side-oats Grama, Bouteloua curtipendula, Attractive Native Grass
When I was first introduced to the important native prairie grasses, I knew nothing about grasses and had no eye for distinguishing characteristics. Side-oats grama was one of the first ones I could recognize. The seeds (technically single-seeded fruits, achenes) hang suspended on a 6-9-inch stalk, different from all the other common prairie grasses. Then there was the mnemonic; I always said to myself, "Them's side-oats, gra'ma." Learning Bouteloua curtipendula was less easy, but there are several important species also in Bouteloua, the word has a nice rhythm to it, and curtipendula means "short-hanging" describing the seeds.
|sideoats grama, Bouteloua curtipendula|
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Travel Story--Rocky Mountain Hike, Early May
It was early May at 7000' elevation. We walked out on a trail in Three Sisters Park, a Jefferson County Park, in Evergreen, Colorado. The temperature was in the 50's, the sky overcast with a prediction of rain--very pleasant, actually.
|forest, Three Sisters Park, Evergreen. CO|
Sunday, April 30, 2023
Beach Lettuce, Fan Flower, Beach Naupaka, Scaevola taccada, Native and Ornamental
This is the story of a successful native. Beach lettuce, fan flower, Scaevola taccada, grows on beaches across the Pacific Ocean. Called beach naupaka in Hawaii, it is one of about 600 species of plants native to Hawaii, having reached the islands, the most remote in the world, without human help. Since it is found on beaches all over the Pacific, Hawaiians call it indigenous rather than endemic. It is a conspicuous plant to beach-goers, growing abundantly just above the tide line.
|beach naupaka Scaevola taccada, Honolulu|
I want to praise it for its role as an ornamental.
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Plant Story--Wild Lettuces, Lactuca species, Common and Widespread
|wild lettuce, probably prickly lettuce, Lactuca serriola|