Monday, March 28, 2011

Berry Go Round #38

Welcome! You’ve arrived at the 38th edition of Berry Go Round, a carnival of blogs about plants. Spring has arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere, Our seasonal affective disorder is wearing off and we’re rearing to go out and about in search of all things botanical.

As the posts were submitted this month, a theme emerged. Gotcha! Not those nasty Gotcha’s. but the pleasant Gotcha’s. Those Gotcha's, either deliberate or accidental, that leave us with a real sense of achievement and satisfaction at the end of the day.

Matt at Sitka Nature must be feeling really pleased. After a three-year quest, he has finally identified what was causing a golden yellow cast on the mud under a stump in Alaska. His success wasn’t achieved locally, or even nationally. This serendipitous identification involved e-mails from Europe and observations in Japan and Africa made over a span of 30 years. All coming together to identify a Chromophyton sp. and solve a mystery for him. A real Gotcha!

Mary at Neotropical Savannah has also had to wait a while for her Gotcha! moment. When she was working to identify a liana vine with sandpapery leaves, she found references to a tree, the Sandpaper Tree (Curatella americana), in the same family. Although she found saplings of the tree, they didn’t have the distinctive wavy edged leaf morphology described for mature plants. So she’s been lying in wait and actually exclaims, Gotcha!, when she finally found one fruiting this year and was able to complete her photographic collection. Patience pays off!

This is the time of year that we have grown weary of the drag winter months and are longing for the appearance of wildflowers to brighten our fields and woods.

This year, Phytophactor had to declare a tie between two flowers for the first flower of Spring honor! Can you guess what they were? I won’t spoil the surprise. See what they were.

It’s funny how, with catkin-producing plants, the male catkins get all the attention and we forget about the modest female flowers. In Indiana, Ben has been checking out the delicate female flowers of the American Hazelnut (Corylus americana).

Wayne at Niches is welcoming the Bluets again this Spring. If you live in the Southeast, keep a link to Wayne’s blog. He follows the changing of the seasons in the Athens, Georgia, area and has a keen eye for the nature around him. I’ve learned a lot from his blog.

Phytophactor wont let us forget about getting our early vegetable gardens going. How many of us have tried and failed to grow leaf lettuce. Phytophactor shares with us the secrets of growing leaf lettuce successfully. Maybe it’s time for us to try again, now that we have a better idea of what we’ve been doing wrong.

If we continue to fail at growing lettuce, we may have to think about living off the land. John at Fascinating Experiments has been researching edible plants. It’s clear that he’d rather live off berries or mushrooms but, if worse come to worst, he’ll consider other plants. Did you know that most parts of cattails – shoots, roots, green flowers and seeds - are edible? Even if they do take a little preparation. And, if you don't want to eat cattails, you can make a shelter from the stems lashed together with the dried leaves. .

I got a bit of a start when I received a submission from Jeremy at Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog that had ‘spam’ in the URL. Thought for a moment that I’d been ‘Gotcha’d.’ But not so. In Kenya, Luigi has been looking into a modeling method, the Spatial Production Allocation Model (SPAM), for assessing the crop intensity on farmland. This method combines Google maps and data such as the type of crop plant, the area planted as well as the production and yield for that crop, to yield a measure of the crop intensity in that area. If, like me, you’re fascinated with maps and their uses to impact our lives, check this out.

Once we’ve taken care of feeding ourselves, we can look to beautifying our surroundings. We’ve all seen those ugly, tall fences or walls that preserve privacy from urban sidewalks. Phytophactor shares a wall where the judicious use of plants of different heights, colors and textures has rendered a simple, yet beautiful sidewalk garden to conceal an ugly wall.

Sarcozona at Gravity’s Rainbow challenges to identify one of the plants that we might use in such a planting. Gotcha!. Can you identify the plant in this photograph?

We’ve all heard of the Tallgrass Prairie that once spread from the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies even if we haven't seen them. And we're probably somewhat aware of the loss of most of the prairie. Sally at Foothills Fancies brings us some good news. She’s pondering an increase in areas in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies that are covered with Big Bluestem Grass (Andropogon gerardii) and tells us how to differentiate between Big Bluestem and other grasses one encounters in her neck of the woods.

My Gotcha! for the month was running across a gem of a nature walk in the Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area near Athens, Georgia. The trail winds its way through the woods and up a hill to a stone outcrop. It was a challenge to find where the trail was. But it promises to be an exceptional area for viewing flowers during the different seasons of the year.

Well, that’s our doings for this month. To our contributors, thanks for your submissions and to our visitors, thanks for stopping by. If this is your first visit, don’t be a stranger. Stop by next month at Foothills Fancies for Berry Go Round #39. And… do consider submitting a post. To submit a post, use the Berry Go Round submission page or send your submission to Sally at ffnaturalistATgmailDOTcom. Please include the name and URL for your post or of one that you would like to recommend. Meantime, do also consider volunteering to host an edition in the future.

If you missed the last edition, don’t forget to pop over and check out Berry Go Round #37 at The Phytophactor.


Jeremy said...

Great collection -- and sorry about that SPAM. One does wonder sometimes whether people consider the unintended consequences of their oh-so-clever acronyms.

JSK said...

Thanks Jeremy. No they don't think about unintended consequences. But it was fun. :-)

Jade L Blackwater said...

Thanks for BGR 38 - what fun discoveries! I'm especially excited about the 'algae of light.'

Mary said...

Wonderful and fun reading! You've enticed me to link to nearly every one of those great posts. Thanks.

JSK said...

Thanks Jade. Glad you enjoyed it. Matt's discovery was remarkable. There are a lot of resources for identifying vascular plants but when we move to the algae etc., the resources are few and far between.

JSK said...

Thanks Mary. I'm glad you enjoyed it.