Monday, July 3, 2017

A tiny legume of interest

 Unless you already know about this flower, chances are you would overlook it on a casual walk.  The blossoms are tiny, around 1/4" wide, and the rather short plants are usually surrounded by taller grasses and other vegetation.  I first found it in Jack Laws' popular field guide, The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, under the name Spanish Clover, or Lotus purshiana.  Here's what a patch of it
looks like if it's not totally hidden by other vegetation.  Click on either photo for a closer look - which I could only achieve by getting down on all fours, and getting my camera lens to within a foot.
Laws' book is great for identifying all manner of flora and fauna via excellent watercolor paintings.  There's very little text, so, for me, it's usually a point of departure for a library search and/or Internet search.  In today's title, I call this a legume, but that term can be misleading, especially if you think first of the produce section of your market.  Think "pea family" or "peas and beans" and you find what we refer to as legumes in the food realm.  But Mimosa trees, and Black Locust trees, among many others, are legumes, too.  The family name used to be Leguminosae.  However, in recent years that term has been replaced by Fabaceae in a decision that reuires each botanical family name ot be a derivative of what is called the "type genus."  Thus, we, Homo sapiens, are in the Family Hominidae.
The Leopard Lily, Lilium pardalinum, is in the Familiy Liliaceae.
For an interesting word search, Google the current and former scientific names for this Spanish Clover: Acmispon americanus and Lotus purshiana.  In the articles you find, you will also discover that many "common" names have been attached to this plant, and also, the name Spanish Clover has been attached to many other species of plants.  What's in a name?

No comments:

Post a Comment