Friday, July 1, 2011

Berry-Go-Round #41

Welcome to Berry-Go-Round #41, to be known in the future as "The Formal Dinner BGR." Everybody look for the place setting with your name on it and be seated. I'll warn the reader immediately that there are a lot of links here, and I doubt that anybody's going to be able to look at them all in one sitting: I'm using an eight-course dinner metaphor very deliberately. So brace yourself.


I'd like to begin by opening up a bottle. The 2011 Hygrochilus is quite excellent, I hear. Impudent and brash, yet meticulous and sophisticated.


For appetizers, the calorie-conscious will enjoy the Wild Taro Research Project. (I say the calorie-conscious will enjoy it because although someone submitted the link, the site is password-protected and therefore unreadable by anyone not invited to be part of the group. Which I wasn't. Consequently, I have no idea what it says. If this is you, maybe anonymously post a working e-mail address / password combination in the comments?)

Here is a quick amuse bouche from the webcomic Abstruse Goose, about the frustrations of being an evil plant; Wired has another off-kilter piece, about an orchid which uses sight and smell to pretend to have a fungal infection, which it uses to attract fungus-eating flies to pollinate it. (Those orchids! Is there no deception they won't stoop to? No wonder all the other plants hate them.)

If you're more into food-as-art than food-as-sustenance, try this post from Plants are the Strangest People (me!) about a striking hybrid Paphiopedilum, or Hort Log's post on the unusual peacock ginger Kaempferia purpurea.

Far Out Flora have a large number of really beautiful and/or striking pictures of Walnut Creek, CA's Ruth Bancroft Garden.

A Digital Botanical Garden talks about the unusual "rose" mutation of the common garden plantain (Plantago major), and explains how small mutations can have large effects on the appearance of plants.

Slugyard solves the mystery of Lupinus pollination by, you know, paying attention. ("You can see a lot by just looking." -Yogi Berra) And there's a video!


Moving on to the soup course, we have a lovely, murky, cream-of-taxonomic-dispute regarding the genus Acacia at Talking Plants, or one might prefer Joseph Tychonievich's much clearer consomme about why scientific names are changing in the first place, and why even the horticulturally-minded might see this as a good thing in the long run.


I'm tempted to skip over the fish course entirely, but Danger Garden writes a post about ponds and pond plants, which is perhaps close enough. (Even if it's not close enough, the photos are worth the trip. I have to bite my knuckles every time I look at that Furcraea picture.)


Now we're getting into the roasts. Christie Wilcox (Observations of a Nerd) eviscerates an essay from Nature which apparently claims (I couldn't read the original essay) that ecologists are too hard on invasive species, and don't make enough of a distinction between invasive species and non-native species. The basic thrust of the post as I read it is no, we distinguish between them just fine. (I admit to some bafflement about what's going on in Wilcox's post, probably because I haven't seen the essay she's reacting to, but it's hard to argue with what she's actually saying.)

On the lighter side, Arizona State's Top 10 New Species of 2010 includes zero plant species, and Nigel Chaffey (at the Annals of Botany blog) is incensed! Incensed!

(Though actually a little anger is probably appropriate. So few people take plants seriously.)

Finally, Denim and Tweed has a post from April (a little late, I know, and maybe someone else already covered this for BGR, but it's interesting, so I'm going to cover it too, and you can't stop me) that blurs the lines a bit about what constitutes a "carnivorous" plant. Apparently a lot of plants have the capacity to absorb nutrients from decaying animals through their leaves, even if they don't actually require the decaying animals in order to function. Does that make them carnivores? I say, defiantly: I would like to think about this for a while and get back to you!

[Wild] Game

In the wild game course, we have Emily's discovery of some wild-growing ferns in Wisconsin. This is apparently something Emily discovers a lot (she's a grad student who studies ferns), but who doesn't like ferns?

And speaking of ferns, Hort Log has photos of the east Asian primitive fern Dipteris conjugata, which is so primitive it doesn't look much like a fern to me.

Denim and Tweed assures us that even if the pollinators all disappear, western North America will still have Mimulus flowers -- Mimulus can evolve to do without them within a few generations, if need be. (Die-hard Mimulus fans -- and I have no doubt there are some out there, somewhere -- may also wish to check out this photo of M. 'Eleanor' at Cactus Blog.)

JSK of Anybody Seen My Focus? documents the development of wild Asclepias amplexicaulis from seedling to flowering in two posts. (part 1) (part 2) There's even a promise to continue documenting as the plant goes from flower to seed pod.

JSK seems to stumble upon a lot of interesting wild plants: I find Cnidoscolus stimulosus a bit frightening-looking: so many little spines! The exceptionally rapid opening of the flowers of Phemeranthus teretifolius is more my speed.

For the final offering in the game category, Casa Coniglio has some serious macro shots of a wild green-flowering orchid, Epipactis gigantea.


You'd think the salad course in a botany-related blog carnival would be huge, but in fact it only has three posts. Hunter Angler Gardener Cook has a fascinating post about eating Yucca flowers (something I'd heard of, but nobody'd ever described the taste for me before); Backyard Notes's Blog is growing a whole salad (tomatoes, radishes, beets, carrots, celery, lettuce, etc.), somewhat experimentally; and Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog catches National Geographic in a tuber error, with the result that I learned something about some minor tuber crops of the Andes (including a tuberous Tropaeolum and Oxalis, which I'd never even imagined before).


Anybody ready for dessert? Farmscape Gardens has a couple interesting photomosaics of oddly-shaped produce that I thought were compellingly pretty. Cactus Blog has a picture of one extremely odd amaryllis relative, Boophone disticha, which ZOMG WANT. Another Cactus Blog post is a picture of the tiny, hairy, turquoise, and striped flower of Rhytidocaulon macrolobum ssp. macrolobum, which I don't so much covet as just fail to comprehend. Plant Chaser posted some photos of the "blond" Tillandsia named 'Druid,' a naturally-occurring variant of T. ionantha which was collected in Mexico forty years ago. (I've seen it for sale around here once, without an ID, so that made me happy.) Casa Coniglio has some photos of Neofinetia falcata, another oddball orchid with white, long-spurred, coconut-scented flowers.

Nuts and Raisins

(Yes, Nuts and Raisins is sometimes considered a course unto itself, hence the expression "[from] soup to nuts.") Floradora has us covered for nuts, or at least seeds (I never said the metaphor was going to be perfect), with the seeds of the grass Stipa barbata, which twist themselves so as to . . . well, essentially screw themselves into the soil.

Instead of raisins, the Annals of Botany blog has a post about dates. More specifically, it's a post about date palms (Phoenix dactylifera), which are dioecious (having plants which are either male or female). Until now, it's not been possible for growers to tell whether they had a female (valuable) or male (not so much) plant on their hands until it was about five years old, but the date palm genome has been sequenced now, and this has the potential to make date production more efficient.

OMG There's More?

So now we're at the end, uncomfortably overfull, with nothing left to do but napkin origami. Wired has a post about the succulent plant Delosperma nakurense, which executes a kind of reversible origami (Wired's metaphor, not mine) to fold and unfold its seed pods, according to the presence or absence of rain (a scientist is quoted: "Generally speaking, dead things don't move, so when they do, it's of obvious interest," which seems charmingly straightforward, if not entirely accurate).

And we're done. Hope everyone enjoyed themselves. (Or at least I hope nobody threw up.)

Next month's BGR will be hosted by Kate at Beyond the Brambles; you can find the submission form for suggesting links here. If you happened to miss BGR 40, you can find it here at Sitka Nature.


Photo credits:
Wine: André Karwath aka Aka, via Wikimedia Commons. Unaltered.
Appetizer (Hamachi Amuse Bouche): Charles Haynes, via Wikimedia Commons. Re-sized; slightly re-colored.
Soup: strawberryblues, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped; slightly re-sized.
Fish: Miya.m, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped.
Roast Beef: cyclonebill, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped; re-sized; re-colored.
Game (Pheasant): Ulrich Prokop (Scops), via Wikimedia Commons. Re-sized.
Salad: Public domain (originally from the National Cancer Institute), via Wikimedia Commons. Unaltered.
Dessert (Cheesecake): Chris Gladis, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped; re-sized; slightly re-colored.
Nuts and Raisins: Mr. Subjunctive.


Tom said...

That bit about Andean tubers was fascinating. Also I realllllllllly want that cheesecake.

sarcozona said...

The pictures were cruel as I discovered your blog just before my lunch - a pb&j. What a large carnival! It's going to take me the rest of the weekend to get through all these posts!

Jeremy said...

Indigestion? No way; you warned me to pace myself, so I did, and I would say comfortably full sums it up.

Great haul and great treatment. Thanks.

Pat said...


Bom said...

I barely get through my blog crawl as it is and here you are serving up all this delicious goodies. :-P

I'm still currently on letter P blogs (obviously) so I'll probably get to your links this afternoon. I already have them queued up after Whimsical Gardener. Thanks for sharing the links and including me in desserts .

danger garden said...

Thanks for the honor of being part of dinner, and I'm glad to know I passed on the Furcraea lust!