Sunday, December 29, 2019

Plant Story--the Iconic Fireweed

fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium
fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium
Fireweed  is one of the most recognizable flowers of the Rocky Mountains. They are tall spikes of magenta flowers, easy to spot and to recognize.

But also forming glorious stands

fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Walking Beaches

"Life is a beach."That might have been my father's motto. A metalurgist, he became a serious amateur seashell collector, retired to Florida, and walked a lot of beaches.

I think about him whenever I walk beaches. And, looking back over the last decade, I've been on a bunch of beaches. For example, a beach in the Lesser Antilles:

swimming beach, Lesser Antiles
A lovely beach, Iles des Saintes, Lesser Antilles

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Plant Story--Black Pepper, Everyone's Spice

black pepper plant, Piper nigrum

Black pepper, Piper nigrum (pepper family Piperaceae) has been an important commodity for millennia. We get it as a dark powder, or if you have a pepper grinder, little round pepper corns.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Growing on Sandy Tropical Beaches

beach in Hawaii
beach in Hawaii
Our world has more ocean than land, so there are vast coastlines. I live in the center of the second-largest continent, which puts me nearly as far from a coastline as is possible. So of course I'm enchanted by beaches.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Plants in Winter

trees in winter

When considering winter in Colorado, I often want to write that plants rest, but in fact, I don't think that is true. A rest is defined as a time to relax and recover strength. Plants drop their leaves and go dormant in winter because they cannot move ice in their tissues, let alone use it to grow. Furthermore, water expands as it freezes, so freezing rips up most cells. There is no recovery of strength in winter, only waiting out an impossible season.

That said, the plants that survive through the winter are an elite minority.