Sunday, February 25, 2024

Still Winter? More Flowers!

It is still winter for me. The ground is brown and cold. Oh, I can see a trace of green in the lawn and a new shoot or two on the iris, if I look carefully.  My snowdrops and crocuses are out of the ground, but not yet flowering. So, here are photos of summer flowers for cheer. Just a few more months...

sunflower Helianthus annuus

Annual sunflower, the cultivated Ukrainian sunflower, Helianthus annuus

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Polyploidy, Multiple Copies of the Genome. Part 1. Basics

One peculiar characteristic of plants, not much shared by animals, is polyploidy, multiple copies of all the chromosomes. In plants and animals, DNA, the genetic material, is bound up in protein-wrapped bodies called chromosomes. Organisms have several to many chromosomes, usually as pairs. For animals, each species has a characteristic number--humans 23 pairs, dogs 39 pairs--with very little variation. One of the ways that plants are DIFFERENT is that chromosome number can vary a lot, between species but also between plants of the same species growing next to each other.  

carrot flowers
carrots, flowering

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Plant Story--Sambucus nigra, Black Elderberry Uses and Folklore

Since prehistory times, humans all over the world have collected black elderberries, the fruit of black elder (Sambucus nigra, viburnum family, Viburnaceae) (see previous post: link). The plant has been used medicinally for that long as well. In addition, it grows into a nice tree, 20, sometimes 30, feet tall, with useful wood. The leaves were used as insect repellents. Folklore abounded, some protecting the plant, some considering it accursed. My herbal, traditional, and folklore books have long sections on elder. Here is a selection of what they say.

elderberries, Sambucus nigra
black elderberries, Sambucus nigra