Sunday, December 27, 2015

Visiting Alberta--Cattail Marshes and Flyways

Big Lake, Alberta
Big Lake, Alberta
Winter is settling in in Colorado. Some of our Canada geese have gone south, but others still sweep by overhead.

On the edge of Edmonton, Alberta, 1000 miles north of us, sits Big Lake, in the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park. (links: Prov.Park  Big Lake Support Soc. ) The lake is a critically important spot for birds migrating across North America.

Remembering visiting it in midsummer, I am reminded that neither plants nor wildfowl value the same things about places that people do.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Plant Story--Peas, Pisum sativum


The three faces of peas--fresh peas, dried peas, and edible-pod peas--are different enough that it is hard remembering they are all the same thing, peas, Pisum sativum (pea family, Fabaceae).

Mostly, when we say "peas" today, we are thinking of shelling peas (garden peas, English peas) especially ones that have been frozen, since peas freeze really well and season for fresh peas is short.

fresh peas
Fresh shelled peas
But it was because they could be dried and stored that peas were one of the very first plants domesticated in the Middle East.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Plant Story--The Beautiful, Iconic Poinsettia

Happy Poinsettia Day!
poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima
December 12 is Poinsettia Day. It is the day Joel Roberts Poinsett, from whom the plant gets its English name, died. Poinsett brought poinsettias to the United States. I always prefer days honoring people's birthdays, but, alas, Poinsett was born in March.

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima, spurge family, Euphorbiaceae) are probably the most visible Christmas/ holiday flower today.

Which seems puzzling, poinsettias are native to the Americas. They could not have, and did not, come to the New World from Europe with Christianity.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Plant Ecology--Tumbleweeds, the Lifestyle

young tumbleweed
young tumbleweed
In the dry fall of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the tumbleweeds let go and roll around.  Drifts on fences from the region make dramatic pictures link

While there are plants called tumbleweeds, actually tumbleweeding is something diverse plants do.