Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Foolin'

 Since our local newspaper did an April Fools Day cover, it got me in the mood to try to do something similar.  A couple of days ago, when I was without my camera, I came across a little patch of Stout-beaked Toothwort.  I went back to that spot today with camera and got the first photo below.  When I got home, I thought I'd gather together some plants and animals whose names are so weird that maybe my viewers would assume the day's blog was a joke.  It's not, and that's why it's titled No Foolin'.
The above photo I pulled from my archive.  It was taken about 4 years ago near Oakland Camp.  The pair of mating bugs are called the Western Bloodsucking Conenose.  These are not particularly fast moving, so I've handled them without fear of getting bit.  However, they can deliver a nasty bite and sometimes carry Chagas disease.  Best leave them alone.
 The patch of Toothworts was looking pretty grim due to the dry conditions.  None of the blossoms were fully open and the the overall plants were far less fleshy than they are in a good rain year.  So, I pulled three old archive photos of the same plant from a couple of years ago when the soil was much wetter at this time of year.  They were photographed near the Keddie Cascades Trail.
 The Toothworts are in the Mustard Family and are one of the earlier wildflowers to bloom around these parts.

Other candidates for listing on this post included Henbit Dead Nettle, which I posted a few days ago, Bindweed, which is called Orchard Morning Glory by people who like it, and a representative of the Birthwort family that's now blooming on the FRC campus, Lemmon's Wild Ginger.  More on these later, I'm still looking in the archives for photos I took during wetter years.
Last, I thought a amusing addition for April Fools Day would be three Amazonian beetles named for fools: Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, and Agathidium rumsfeldi.  I've never actually seen these beetles that were discovered and named by a couple of Cornell entomologists, but I did mention them in a humorous essay I wrote a few years ago called "An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles."  At the time, I assumed the professors were mocking the politicians.  After all, these beetles are in the Slime-mold Beetle family.  However, I did a little online research on them today and was embarrassed to discover the names were meant to honor these men.  Or well.  Hope you had a nice day of foolishness.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Crazy Name and No Photo

I drove by one of my favorite little pit stops near Keddie on my way to Greenville.  Fortunately, there was a logging truck riding my rear bumper so I used the turnout and decided to see if there were any signs of Indian Rhubarb in the adjacent creek.  No.  Either too early or too little water.  Anyway, I roamed around a bit and came across a patch of blooming Stout-beaked Toothwort.  This early spring member of the mustard family has the sort of name that always stimulates my etymology urge.  Today is a very busy teaching day, so I think tomorrow, in celebration of April Fool's Day, I'll post a photo and some words about crazy biological names.  You'll have to wonder if I'm fooling you - or, do your own etymological research. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The name game

Later, I'm going to update a message I posted about this flower a year ago.  It's plentiful in spots at Quincy roadsides.

Seen around Quincy on Saturday

 Text coming soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Making Lawns More Interesting

 I've never cared for monocultures whether they be the creation of industrial-scale agriculture or the typical suburban lawn.  I know the importance of biodiversity, but here I'm thinking in terms of aesthetics.  I find large expanses of lawn boring.  So, when Feather River Colleges large expanses of the green stuff get punctuated by outbreaks of Filaree, Henbit Dead Nettle (above and below) and various tiny wildflowers I haven't yet identified, I get excited and bring my camera and field guides to work every day.
 This patch of small white blossoms is in one of the irrigation ditches on campus - actually, not an irrigation ditch but a tamed creek. It might be Meadow Foam.  Not sure yet.  Will have to add copies of Jepson and Munz to my travel bag.
 This last photo I call Feral Violets.  There's a smattering of them in the lawns between the buildings on the upper campus.  I don't think they're a wild species.  At least I haven't found them in my field guides.  I think they're escapees from a landscaping project.
In yesterday's post, I featured yellow blossoms on campus.  I should add that the Shelton's Violets and Pine Violets are getting more plentiful, and the next few weeks should be great for spring wildflowers.  It's time for the arrival of the lilioids.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Color of the day: Yellow

 My day started with the discovery of a fresh layer of yellow pollen on my windshield.  Fortunately, no allergies erupted.  Then, as soon as I parked on the FRC campus, I was amazed at the abundance of yellow blossoms.  There are daffodils, obviously planted by humans, Oregon Grape (above and below), which is a natural wild shrub but is also often planted by humans,
 Forsythia (the next three photos) blooming all around Quincy as well as on campus, and

 ... the ubiquitous, but still beautiful, Dandelions.
There are some interesting, small, pink and red flowers too, but the yellow is what caught my attention.  To top it all off, as I was walking toward my office I met one of my colleagues who was photographing the Forsythia with a yellow camera!  That's the first yellow camera I ever saw. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nuts to you, and other trailside fun

 6,000 words, more or less. Sunday, March 22.