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
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

Garden lettuce, Lactuca sativa (sunflower family Asteraceae) is just one of about 125 species in the genus. (See earlier post on garden lettuce.) Thus, there are many lettuces, most living independent of humans.
wild lettuce in a disturbed field
 wild lettuce, probably prickly lettuce, Lactuca serriola

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Green Roofs in San Francisco

In a spring escape, I was in San Francisco in late March. We visited museums, parks, and restaurants.

Roof, California Academy of Sciences
Roof, California Academy of Sciences

I had not been to the California Academy of Sciences in more than 20 years. In that period, the building was completely rebuilt, with a green roof. I had been doubtful about green roofs--where people grow plants on the roof. I know they have been used for millennia in parts of Europe, but those are wetter climates than San Francisco. So I wondered about watering and keeping plants alive in shallow soils. Or, if the soils aren't shallow, the weight on the roof. 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Big, Medicinal, and Long-lived, Veratrum californicum, False Hellebore, Corn Lily

California false hellebore, Veratrum californicum, is a big plant you can't miss. It is very toxic. Rising temperatures threaten it. Altogether a fascinating native American wildflower.

Veratrum californicum in Colorado
 California false hellebore, Veratrum californicum,
in the Colorado Rockies

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Travel Story--Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

It was still winter in Colorado in March 2023 when we took off to San Francisco on a California escape. The area had had a stressful winter of heavy rains and our trip was sandwiched in between two more storms. But we had a beautiful day for walking Golden Gate Park. 

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco
Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco