Sunday, March 18, 2018

Visiting Wyoming--Wildflowers of the Snowy Range

It's early spring, a few plants are flowering but lawns are still brown and trees are leafless. So let's take a walk from a June trip into Wyoming almost three years ago. I was passing through, so these are easy stops along the highway. Wow!

Snowy Range, Wyoming

The Snowy Range sits along Wyoming's southern border. You drive west out of Laramie on secondary roads and there it is. The park you see on Google maps is Medicine Bow National Park. By either name a glorious place. Summer is short, the elevation is above 8,000 feet, rising on those mountains to over 10,000 feet, so the plants burst forth in profusion, mostly quite short but brightly colored.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Plant Story--Creeping Hollygrape, Berberis repens

creeping hollygrape, Berberis repens

It is spreading all over my yard, but I can't get its name right.

I'm used to calling it Oregon grape, but in fact, the one on the Front Range in Colorado is not really Oregon grape. The usual Oregon grape is Berberis aquifolia. It is Berberis repens that is common in Colorado. Common names for this plant include creeping hollygrape, creeping barberry, creeping mahonia, and creeping Oregon grape.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Plant Story--Coral Trees, the Erythrina species

Erythrina, coral tree

Pretty red flowers on a small tree, the flowers upturned or curved like crescents. Called coral trees or coral bean, the genus is Erythrina in the pea family, Fabaceae, and they are found all around the tropical world.

My most recent encounter with a coral tree was with Erythrina crista-galli, the cockspur coral tree (crista-galli is Latin for cock's comb) in Argentina, where, called ceibo, it is the national flower. Cockspur coral tree is native to northern Argentina and nearby areas in Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. It is the national flower of Uruguay, as well.

Which tells you how spectacular the cockspur coral tree is in flower.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Visiting San Diego, California--Winter Escape


San Diego is at the southern end of California: you can see Mexico easily. Given that location, it has mild southern winters. It is also a very dry climate since southern California is almost desert. What rain they get falls in the winter. All of which makes a "Mediterranean climate," very like the climate of southern Italy and Spain.

And a terrific place to escape to in winter.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Observing Leaves

ornamental leaves

Flowers are showy and essential for reproduction by their plants, but leaves contain the photosynthetic aparatus and are the source of food that plants self-generate. Leaves are essential to the world's economy, providing the basic materials that feed both plants and animals. Of course there are other synthetic pathways and some stems are photosynthetic, but far and away most of the energy from the sun is captured by leaves and turned into plant biomass, which is subsequently eaten by just about everything.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Plant Story--A Tribute to Pansies, Viola species

Pansies are so commonly planted as to seem uninteresting. Indeed, I have surprisingly few photos of pansies in my large collection of photographs that were taken just to show a pansy.

But why are they so widely planted?  First, they're bright colored. Not only bright-colored, they come in colors including nearly black, purple, blue, red, yellow and white and combinations of those.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Visiting Patagonia--A Glipse of Torres del Paine, Chile

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Patagonia refers to the southern part of South America, but it is a big area including about half (the southern half) of Argentina and Chile. I have only seen the southern tip, Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle Channel and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.