A Botany Blog for Plant Nerds
Are you a plant nerd? Not just a gardener, no matter how passionate, but interested in the plants that aren’t found in a garden? Are you excited about botany? Then, I have a website for you:
In Defense of Plants
Abert & Abert
Many plants and animals have either common or scientific names that honor people, often the person who discovered the species, or someone famous. For example, ‘Prince Charles’ and ‘Princess of Wales’ are both rose cultivars. Ornithologist Alexander Wilson named Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) after Meriwether Lewis, who discovered the species, and Clark’s Nutcrackers were named after his fellow explorer, William Clark. I find it interesting to learn a bit about the person behind various names, especially of species that I’ve seen and photographed. (more…)
Social Distanced Birding
The medical experts are telling us to keep our social distance. No hugs. No handshakes. No large gatherings. Events are cancelled. In many places, schools, churches, and other large venues are closed. We’re stuck at home staring at the TV—or are we? We may need to keep our distance from other people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go out. We just have to choose places where we’re not in a crowd. (more…)
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
Mt. Evans, Revisited
Here in Colorado, when it’s hot out on the plains, we head to the mountains. And there’s no better mountain to head to than Mt. Evans. No hiking required, unless you want to reach the 14,265 foot peak, and even that is only a quarter mile up a series of switchbacks from the summit parking lot. And while the view from the top is worth the effort, most of the really good stuff is on the way there. It’s a good metaphor for life.
But Can I Repeat It?
Reproducibility is one of the foundations of science. If something is true, it should be true every time. While it’s exciting to create new studies with new results, it is equally important to recreate studies done by others.
It may come as a surprise to many that science never proves something to be true. We can falsify a hypothesis, but there is always a chance that our positive results are due to chance. Reproducing studies is one way to reduce that possibility.
I was reading an article about purslane (a weed). The author scolded anyone who would pull it up and toss it. She recommended eating it because it offers “amazing health benefits.” The article had a long list of these nutritional benefits (it was a little too good to be true, so I intend to verify them at some point), but the one that caught my eye was “It is GMO free, ….”
Of course it is.
Baby Birds & Big Buffalo
With gorgeous scenery, fascinating geology, and a zoo’s worth of wildlife, a visit to Yellowstone National Park is always a delight. And in spite of the weather (cold, snow, and sleet on the first day of summer?!), last week’s trip was no exception.
Critters in Trees
Birders spend a lot of time looking in trees. Of course, we’re hoping to see birds, and often we do. But birds aren’t the only animals that live in trees. And, while I get a thrill spotting a less-than-common bird among the branches, I also get rather excited when it’s a less-than-common mammal—or other creature.
Besides the birds, what do I see in trees? Squirrels! It’s a rare birding trip when we don’t spot at least a couple of squirrels, and typically there are plenty more. Here in the Colorado Springs area, by far the most common species is the Eastern fox squirrel, which some idiot nostalgic person from the East introduced to Colorado during the 1940s. Fox squirrels spend their time sneaking around urban yards, emptying bird feeders and chewing up grill covers and the fabric cushions of our patio furniture.