Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Blue-eyed grass

April 15, 2014

From Mike McKinley (in Austin TX) on Facebook, this plant appreciation:

Texas is justly famous for its wildflowers. Spring here is really gorgeous as it’s the time of year when everything is green, lush and cool. We have a wealth of lovely wildflowers, but this one has been my favorite since I was a kid and it’s called blue-eyed grass. It’s very small and grows in small isolated clumps, so you never see it covering a field. It’s subtle and tasteful.


The species pictured is either S. angustifolium, Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass, or  S. montanum, Common blue-eyed grass, both of which are common in Texas. (Someone with better botanical knowledge than I have could surely identify the species.)



April 9, 2014

Continuing the spring bulb theme, now on squills:

Scilla … is a genus of about 50 to 80 bulb-forming perennial herbs in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae, native to woodlands, subalpine meadows, and seashores throughout Europe and Asia. Their flowers are usually blue, but white, pink, and purple types are known; most flower in early spring, but a few are autumn-flowering. (Wikipedia link)

More specifically:

Scilla siberica (Siberian squill or wood squill) is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to southwestern Russia, the Caucasus, and Turkey. Despite its name, it is not native to Siberia. (link)



April 7, 2014

More spring bulbs. This time, from Ann Burlingham, in her own garden (in upstate New York):


From Wikipedia:

Galanthus (Snowdrop; Greek gála “milk”, ánthos “flower”) is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous herbaceous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae. Most flower in winter, before the vernal equinox (20 or 21 March in the Northern Hemisphere), but certain species flower in early spring and late autumn.



April 3, 2014

I’ve just posted on star-of-Bethlehem, and  now Ann Burlingham has reminded me of another modest (and hyphenated) spring bulb, glory -of-the-snow. (There are still more, not hyphenated, for example snowdrops, Galanthus, and squills, Scilla .) A photo:




April 3, 2014

Another fine plant drawing from Aric Olnes:



Bellis perennis

March 29, 2014

From Aric Olnes (taking a break from posting artwork about jurisdictions that have recognized same-sex marriages), this nice drawing of Bellis perennis:




February 9, 2014

The Burlingham sisters (Ann, Kathryn, and Gillian) and their extended family (spouses, children, mother, and aunt) have been on tour on the other side of the world, sending back (wonderful) Facebook reports on their travels. Along the way, a note on Callistemon flowers.

From Wikipedia:

Callistemon … is a genus of 34 species of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae, all of which are endemic to Australia.

…  The obvious parts of the flower masses are stamens, with the pollen at the tip of the filament; the petals are inconspicuous … Flower heads vary in colour with species; most are red, but some are yellow, green, orange or white. [also purple and pink]

Beyond Australia, the plant is also also grown in other semi-tropical and tropical places: among them, India, Southeast Asia, and California (where it’s all over the place).


Mammoths and flowers

February 8, 2014

Passed on to me by Sim Aberson, this NPR story of February 6th, “Woolly Mammoths’ Taste For Flowers May Have Been Their Undoing” by Geoff Brumfiel, beginning:

They were some of the largest, hairiest animals ever to walk the Earth, but new research shows a big part of the woolly mammoth’s diet was made up of tiny flowers.

The work is based on DNA analysis of frozen arctic soil and mammoth poop. It suggests that these early vegans depended on the flowers as a vital source of protein. And when the flowers disappeared after the last ice age, so too did the mammoths that ate them.



Plant phallicity

January 25, 2014

Not about language.

The cover of the 10 January Science:


(The yellow medallion wasn’t on the physical cover, though it’s an entertaining addition.)


Genital plants

December 15, 2013

Two cards in succession in the Art of Instruction set: acorns and arums, both visually similar to human genitals, a fact recognized in some of the common names for the plants.



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