Monday, December 13, 2010

All In The Family!

I've been having a pretty good time trying to build up enthusiasm for winter photography lately. However, today I yielded to the temptation to review last year's photos from the vicinity of Oakland Feather River Camp. Around this time of year, plans are being made for next summer's camp, and I am planning to offer a class in Nature Journaling. I love to point out relationships among plants that may seem quite different but are actually quite closely related. The top photo here includes two flowers of the same genus! The Bachelor's Button, Centaurea cyanus, is a European ornamental that has established itself as a wildflower in the USA. It occurs in quite a variety of colors. Around Quincy, I've seen blue, purple, white, and combinations of these colors on the same flower (technically, the same head). The blue ones are easily confused with Chicory when driving along. Above and to the left of the Bachelor's Button is a Yellow Star-thistle, Centaurea solstitialis. Who but a botanist would guess these two were in the same genus?
All the remaining flowers are in the same family, the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Who but a botanist would see what they all have in common to warrant being placed in the same family? From top to bottom, the buttercup allies are: Crimson Columbine, Aquilegia formosa; Baneberry, Actaea rubra (This one has unspectacular little white flowers, but the leaves are similar to those of the Columbine, the Buttercup, and the Larkspur). Next down is the Western Buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis; then the Red Larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule (Many of the Larkspurs are also know by the common name of Delphinium.); last is the Western Monkshood, Aconitum columbianum. I'm afraid I'm back in the I-can't-wait-for-summer mood! Now that I've recorded favorite spots for finding all of these, next summer I'm going to try to photograph and/or draw them in all stages of their life cycles and collect some seeds.

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