Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring in Plumas County

We had a fairly sunny day today and I got some nice wildflower photos on the way home from work only to learn that another week of rain is expected. Click on any of these to see a larger view and a caption in the upper left corner. These were all along Highway 89 between Greenville and Quincy, mostly near the Greenville Y. The scenic view of Indian Creek was taken just a couple hundred yards north of the Y, one of my favorite places for photography. I see something different every week. Saw otters playing here last fall, so I look for them every time. Saw a beautiful yellow-bellied racer here last week. Blue-belly lizards every time. Chorus frogs and yellow-legged frogs almost every time. And the insects....don't get me started.
P. S. The next to last photo I hastily captioned "Silk Tassel Bush." Actually, it's Bitter Cherry, formerly known as Choke Cherry. Rose family.
P.P.S. One of the neat things about a blog is I can correct errors. Further research into the aforementioned cherry reveals that I've run into "common name" trouble again. I have to keep reminding myself and my readers that I'm not a botanist. I'm just very interested in photographing and learning about the plants you see here. It turns out the one pictured above is still known as Choke Cherry, but we can be more precise by using the scientific name, Prunus virginiana, while the Bitter Cherry, not yet pictured here, is Prunus emarginata. As for the common names, you will find great variance from place to place. I'm sure that both species are called Choke Cherry, Bitter Cherry, Wild Cherry, and who knows what else, from place to place. As for the scientific names, they get changed from time to time as botanists learn more about "known" species and discover others. Also, any species that lives from coast to coast, such as the Choke Cherry, usually always has varieties in different habitats. Some botanists (and zoologists, for that matter) are inclined to split a species into many subspecies based on rather fine points of anatomy, while others might include more variants under each subspecies name. Among scientists, these two camps are semi-seriously referred to as "splitters" and "lumpers." I tend to be a lumper simply because then there are fewer names to learn. One extreme example of splitting I remember from college days was in a book of North American mammals in which the human species was divided into subspecies, each with its own Latin name. We of Northern European descent were called Homo sapiens sapiens, sapiens meaning wise, while other "races" had names like Homo sapiens africanus, Homo sapiens australis, and Homo sapiens americanus. Guess which group did the naming. Thus ends the longest P.P.S. I ever wrote.

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