Clearing Up Plant Names

Six years ago, I posted an article about scientific names for plants. As I pointed out, scientific names are essential because there are often a multitude of common names for a single species, or the same common name for a multitude of species. Using the genus species clarifies exactly which plant you’re discussing.

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Committing Tree-icide: Planting

20200522_101626

It’s spring. Perennials are emerging from underground. Spring bulbs are in bloom. The buds on are bare branches are bursting into leaves. Except for those that aren’t. A look around indicates that a lot of my neighborhood trees didn’t survive the winter.

Trees are not cheap. There is a significant cost when it comes to purchasing and planting a tree, especially one large enough to satisfy the HOA. It’s easy to blame their subsequent demise on Colorado’s notoriously capricious weather. Easy, but you’d be wrong. By far, the primary reason our new neighborhood’s trees don’t survive is improper planting.

It’s not the weather that’s killing the trees. It’s us.

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The Birds and the Bees

Bee on Tithonia_DBG_LAH_7606

There we were, a gaggle of pre-adolescent girls approaching puberty, giggling as we shared the details of the recent talks we’d each had with our mothers. Apparently, the parents had gotten together and decided to synchronize their lectures about the birds and the bees. That was smart on behalf of the parents—armed with the facts, we wouldn’t be sharing misinformation.

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Megafauna & Obsolete Fruit

I try hard to create original material for my blog. After all, you can go read someone else’s writing somewhere else! But when I read this article, I knew I had to share it with you. It was that good.

We tend to think of geologic time on a huge scale, and the ice ages happened an incredibly long time ago. We forget how short our human history really is. This article made me look at the world with new eyes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Trees That Miss The Mammoths,
by Whit Bronaugh

Mallows

Who doesn’t like marshmallows? Floating in your cocoa, shaped into a peep, or toasted over a campfire and smashed into a s’more, we all love the squidgy sweetness. I have always wondered where the name came from. What’s a mallow, and what is it doing in a marsh?

Turns out, Malvaceae is yet another family of plants, and one that most gardeners will recognize.

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Deadly? Or Delicious?

Devil’s Trumpet (Datura sp.)
Devil’s Trumpet (Datura sp.)

Eating just a few leaves or berries will leave you writhing on the ground. Your mouth dries, your pupils enlarge, and you run a fever. Within minutes, you gasp as painful cramps turn into vomiting and diarrhea.  First your pulse races, then it slows, as does your breathing. Your head pounds, and then the hallucinations start. You’ve become paralyzed.

But soon, none of that matters any more—because you’ll be dead.

Happily, if you do manage to get to a hospital in time, there’s a good chance you’ll recover, although the symptoms can last up to three days. Eating an unidentified plant is never a good idea, but if it happens to be one of the more dangerous members of the nightshade family, it could be fatal. (more…)