acuminate

Today’s morning name, and it turns out to be surprisingly relevant today.

adjective acuminate: Biology (of a plant or animal structure, e.g. a leaf) tapering to a point. ORIGIN late 16th century: from late Latin acuminatus ‘pointed’, from acuminare ‘sharpen to a point’, from acuere ‘sharpen’ [cf. acute].

Relevant to my daily life through the variegated agave (Agave desmetiana) that flourishes on my back patio (last noted here in my 11/4/17 posting “The succulent report”); it has wicked needle-like — acuminate — leaf tips that wound me every time I try to work around the plant. These plants evolved to seriously stave off herbivores and other pesky creatures.

(#1) Agave angustifolia marginata, with fiercely acuminate leaves

Right on the heels of this dream word came an agave report from Austin TX, from Steve Wechsler, who has this growing by his house:

(#2) SW: “After 15 years in my yard this agave decided to send up a huge shoot”

As I’ve reported in previous postings about the Cactus Garden at Stanford, this is classic agave behavior. From Wikipedia:

Agaves are succulents with a large rosette of thick, fleshy leaves, with most species ending in a sharp terminal spine.

… Each rosette is monocarpic and grows slowly to flower only once. During flowering, a tall stem or “mast” (“quiote” in Mexico) grows from the center of the leaf rosette and bears a large number of short, tubular flowers. After development of fruit, the original plant dies, but suckers are frequently produced from the base of the stem, which become new plants.

Blumentod comes in 8-20 years, much longer in some species. And, most impressively, the flowering to death tends to be synchronized — obviously useful from the point of sexual reproduction (though the plant reproduces vegetatively with ease). So now there are reports of agaves shooting up to bloom all over Austin.

From Wikipedia (thanks to SW):

Mast seeding or masting is a mass-seeding phenomenon exhibited by some species of plants, which can be defined as “synchronous production of seed at long intervals by a population of plants”. Masting, in the strict sense of the term, occurs only in monocarpic (or semelparous) species, whose members reproduce only once during their lifetime, then die.

So it too has a name.

Poetic bonusBlumentod (by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, 1844), first verse:

Wie sind meine Finger so grün
Blumen hab ich zerrissen
Sie wollten für mich blüh’n
Und haben sterben müssen

That is, Death of Flowers, translated pretty literally:

My fingers are so green / How green my fingers are
I have  chopped down / ripped out  flowers
They wanted to bloom for me
They had to die

From Wikipedia:

Anna Elisabeth Franziska Adolphine Wilhelmine Louise Maria, Freiin von Droste zu Hülshoff, known as Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (10 or 12 January 1797 – 24 May 1848), was a 19th-century German writer and composer. She was one of the most important German poets [of the Romantic period, noted especialy for her lyric poetry] and author of the novella Die Judenbuche.

 

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