Archive for the ‘Classification and labeling’ Category

Naming names: the cocktail beat

July 29, 2016

In the New York Times Magazine on Sunday the 24th, an entertaining “Drinks” column by Rosie Schaap, about cocktail names, with special attention to the cocktails created and named by Jill Dobias, of the East Village restaurant Joe and Misses Doe. Two of her works, Eye of the Komodo and Clam in a Can:



Briefly: what is a category?

February 29, 2016

Life on the net brings many annoyances. Software is frequently updated, in ways that sometimes make you have to re-learn how to do things. Blogging sites (I use WordPress for this blog and the much more tolerant livejournal for AZBlogX) and social media sites  (I read and post to Facebook and Google+) change the way they work, frequently, and they almost never announce these changes, so you suddenly discover that things no longer work the way they used to, and you have to discover (by trial and error, or asking around) a way to do what you want to do.

Facebook is famous for changing the way it works, sometimes apparently trying something out (maybe on only some of its users) and then changing things back the next day. Vexing.

WordPress made some substantial changes, unannounced, a few months ago, and I’m still coping with one of the little oddities of the current system, the way the label Uncategorized is used.


More vining invasives

September 9, 2015

Following up on my 8/26 posting on vining invasives, one more from visits to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto: the trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, which leads us to other vines in its plant family, the Bignoniaceae (among them the crossvine, Bignonia capreolata), and to some non-vining plants. And then another vining invasive, the dreadful Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus.

The invasives tend to be multiple-threat plants: they smother the competition, spread by creeping, and/or distribute their seeds widely, especially when their fruits are eaten by birds or other creatures.


Plant families

August 19, 2015

Some notes on plant families (where a family is a taxon above the genus and species and below the series and order), in minimally technical language, for the aid of the friend who tours Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden with me. Here, notes on some plant families that are especially prominent for one reason or another.

I note that botanical taxonomy (which plants are assigned to which taxa, on what grounds) and its accompanying nomenclature are often deeply unsettled matters: taxonomists disagree as to how taxa are circumscribed and as to what labels to use for these taxa.

There are over 600 plant families in most systems, but many of these families are small or not of great interest to most people dealing with the plant kingdom. Here I’ve picked 5 families of high interest, plus 4 more that merit some attention. The Big 5 come up again and again in our tours of the Gamble Garden.