Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Cotinus and the cousins of Cotinus

September 4, 2015

Noted at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden earlier this week: Cotinus coggygyria. A handsome large shrub or small tree that I grew in my Columbus garden. A silhouette of the plant in Columbus, in a photo taken by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky in 1998:

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Two from xkcd

September 4, 2015

Two recent cartoons from xkcd: #1571 of 8/31, “Car Model Names”; and #1572 of 9/2, “xkcd Survey”, with one question about spelling (“What word can you never seem to spell on the first try?”) and one about words you know (“Which of these words do you know the meaning of?”):

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Eat your weeds

August 31, 2015

Laboring on WWI (Weeds, Wildflowers, and Invasives), I was reunited with the work of Euell Gibbons, who (50 years ago) served as a cheerleader for eating foods from nature, rather than agriculture. Eat your weeds!

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African daisies

August 31, 2015

An exercise in names, common and taxonomic.

It starts with the genus Gerbera, which I looked at in “Gerbera and other daisy-oid flowers”, here: the Transvaal daisy, Barberton daisy, or African daisy. That posting runs through six other genera with daisy in (one or more of) their common names: Bellis, Leucanthemum, Symphyotrichum (formerly Aster), Anthemis, Argyranthemum, Erigeron. None labeled as African, however.

But there are at least three other genera with African daisy as one of their common names: Gazania, Osteospermum (formerly Dimorphotheca), and Arctotis. All (like Gerbera) gorgeous, showy flowers with Africa in their histories.

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Cow parsnip

August 30, 2015

My continuing investigations into invasive plants take me further and further afield (so to speak), today to Bay Area wildflowers, of which there are a great many — some shy woodland flowers, some small plants that (in their season) blanket hillsides and meadows, and some weedy and imposing plants. Now a web list of area wildflowers turns up many familiar plants from my days of wildflower tracking, including a giant, the cow parsnip:

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(Note the big white umbels and the huge celery-like leaves.)

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Gerbera and other daisy-oid flowers

August 29, 2015

A gift from a friend a few days ago: a gorgeous, showy Gerbera plant, in bloom. An assortment of hybrid Gerbera flowers:

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(Mine is orange-red, with a yellow center.)

Gerberas are often referred to as Transvaal daisies, with a bow to their land of origin and their daisy-like composite flowers — but then an extraordinary variety of composite or compositoid flowers have common names with daisy in them. In fact, daisy has no fixed reference as a botanical term, though common practice seems to fix on two species as the standards: the ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and the common daisy (Bellis perennis) — a “field daisy” and a “lawn daisy”, respectively, both having modest-sized flowers with white rays and yellow centers (or capitula).

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Antacid or online tv?

August 28, 2015

Yesterday’s Zippy, with Griffy and Zippy as seniors on an outing with their walkers:

Are those names antacids or online tv services? Take two Acorns and watch some prime-time Nexium.

We’ve been in X-or-Y-land before, in “Cheese or font?” and “Cheese or font: The sequel”, where we also visited “Gay or Eurotrash?”, “X Face or O-Face?”, and “Plant or Disease?” (coreopsis: plant or disease?, stenosis: plant or disease?). The first and last are about names, the other two about properties of a referent.

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Vining invasives

August 26, 2015

Continuing from “Seedy invasives”, I turn to a pretty but ominous plant seen at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden yesterday morning: Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, or porcelainberry, in the Araliaceae:

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From this to Hedera helix and other vining invasives.

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Morning name: adipocere

August 25, 2015

An unpleasant topic, one with a high enough Ick Factor that I’m not posting any photos. First, from NOAD2, with the etymology:

a grayish waxy substance formed by the decomposition of soft tissue in dead bodies subjected to moisture. ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from French adipocire, from Latin adeps, adip- ‘fat’ + French cire ‘wax’ (from Latin cera).

(The primary accent is on the first syllable, with a secondary accent on the last.)

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Seedy invasives

August 22, 2015

In my “More plant families” posting yesterday, I turned to two big families I’d missed in an earlier posting and then to my recollections of plants in my Columbus OH garden that were self-seeding and/or self-hybridizing: cleomes, California poppies, opium poppies, foxgloves, borage, columbines, tradescantia, nasturtiums, and then I looked at the plant families they belonged to — a project that added 8 more families to the 9 I’d looked at in the earlier posting and the two I’d looked at in my “Penstemon” posting. (If you’re counting families, the score is now 19.)

Now I want to switch my focus from the intricacies of botanical taxonomy (without abandoning the topic entirely) to the significance of self-seeding (or self-sowing), one form of invasiveness in the gardening world, one way in which plants can spread so as to take over parts of a garden. The other is vegetative spread, by division or, especially, by creeping (via underground roots or surface runners). You’ve got your seedy invasives and you’ve got your creepy invasives.

Of course, the topic goes well beyond these homey horticultural matters, to invasive plants — and animals — on a much larger scale, where invasiveness has taken on political significance of several kinds. Eventually I intend to post about a piece by Andrew Cockburn in the September 2015 Harper’s, “Weed Whackers: Monsanto, glyphosphate, and the war on invasive species”.

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