21 May 2008

The Ides of May

This will probably the the last picture I take in the garden for a while. Luckily, Ixia viridiflora bloomed just in time, and I got some decent pictures. With it, as usual, firecracker flower, Dichelostemma ida-maia, which I have not managed to photograph, though you can just see it in the background of this shot.

I looked into the name of D. ida-maia a few years ago, and read somewhere that it was named after a lady named Ida Mae. But I was never totally satisfied with this explanation, because it always blooms on May 15, which is the Ides of May, a date newly significant to me. So with the help of the internets, I tracked down Alphonso Wood's original 1867 description of what he called Brevoortia ida-maia:

This plant was first noticed by Mr. Burke, stage-driver, in his daily route, and by him my own attention was first called to it. He had given it the name of "Ida May, in affection for his little daughter,"—a name quite appropriate, moreover, as on the Ides (i.e., the 15th) of May, the plant begins to flower.

The type locality was on the stage road from Shasta City to Yreka.

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08 May 2008

Natives

white calochortus, reddish variety
1. My obsession with Calochortus did not really extend to the discreet charm of the fairy lanterns until C. albus var. rubellus started blooming the other day. Now I'm a believer.

Also: fairy lantern!

2: If you liked reading about the Presidio manzanita, you'll love this unnamed species.


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07 May 2008

My new favorite article title

A. C. Gaskett et al., "Orchid Sexual Deceit Provokes Ejaculation," American Naturalist 171 (2008).

They're talking about pollinators, not orchid collectors.

Go ahead, read it, it's (allegedly) free.

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01 May 2008

The importance of being earnest

A certain blogger recently recommended buying ladybugs to release in your yard for pest control. I don't want to single out this endearing and admirable person, but this is a perfect example of making things worse by trying to make them better. A little bit of research, not to say common sense, would reveal that kidnapping bugs en masse and selling them to gardeners is not a good idea.

shut up, YOU try to illustrate greenwashingThis is what is so dangerous about the current "green" climate in America: it can easily do more harm than good, as with ethanol, which, if you weren't paying attention, is currently responsible for starving the developing world, consuming more energy than it produces, and the rising prices you're paying for gas and food.

So if you're going to do something -- especially if you're going to publicly advocate doing something -- to make the world better, make sure it will actually make the world better.

[Brendan I. Koerner's Green Lantern column at Slate is an interesting attempt to do this.]

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