Sunday, February 27, 2022

Evening Primroses in Early Modern Science

Missouri evening primrose, Oenothera missouriensis
Missouri evening primrose, Oenothera missouriensis

Evening primroses are a group of moderately obscure North America wildflowers (genus Oenothera, evening primrose family, Onagraceae). Unrelated to primroses or roses, evening primroses are pretty and easy to grow, so they have played a solid role in the development of genetics and plant biology.

If you ask, "why do botanists study some plants and not others?" the answers are all very human. Does it grow where they work? Or at a spectacular location where they would like to work? Do they know the plant? That gives showy flowers an edge. Can it be grown easily? Having as many plants as you want allows much better experiments.

Evening primroses do most of those well, so they were noticed by botanists long ago. Which led to publications about their biology, and to more study.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Plant Story-- Eastern Catmint, an Ornamental Nepeta Species

Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is famous, the plant that is a cat drug. Its genus Nepeta, however, includes from 251- 350 species, native to the Old World. Several have been introduced into North America as garden plants. This blog is about N. racemosa, called eastern catmint, racemose catmint, and dwarf catnip. You can find it sold as Nepeta mussinii, which was its name, but has been replaced.

eastern catmint, Nepeta racemosa
eastern catmint, Nepeta racemosa

This is a cute little plant, less than 2' high, which has bright purple flowers and richly green leaves. In my garden it comes into full bloom well before much of anything else is available for bees. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Have You Seen...? An Eclectic Botanical Quiz

This week's post is a gallery of very neat plants. I have snow on the ground, snow in the forecast; its a good time to look at colorful photos.

Here are the pictures. You can make it a quiz.


1. Seen camellia plants heavy with flowers?

camellia in bloom

This photo is from Oregon. Camellias are native to Asia. In Japan, the samurai reportedly disliked camellias because the fallen flowers reminded them of decapitated heads.  

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Another Anniversary!

 I started this blog at the beginning of February, 2013. I am celebrating its 8th anniversary.

How very long ago 2013 seems! 

I started writing this blog to make good plant stories more available. For example, a Supreme Court decision that decided the tomato is a vegetable; several plants native to the Americas became such a part of Eurasian cultures so fast that by the 1700 people thought they were Eurasian plants, for example chili peppers, and plumeria (aka frangipani and Indian temple tree). 

red flax, Linum grandiflorum
red flax, Linum grandiflorum, a plant I grew because I'd read about it.
                                             It is as pretty as it was described to be.