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In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

October 2006 Archives

Oct 31, 2006: Cucurbita 'Schooltime'

Cucurbita 'Schooltime'

Something a bit different today – a link roundup instead of writing:

Two asides: 1) I haven't been able to identify today's pumpkin, but I might update the name and this entry after I talk with Tony Maniezzo (who tends the Food Garden); and 2) If you're wondering what the design is, it's a hummingbird and a stylized flower.

Updated October 31 at 1:34 PM local time: After talking with Tony, I believe this is the cultivar 'Schooltime'.

Oct 30, 2006: Calochortus macrocarpus

Calochortus macrocarpus

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm busy preparing for my presentation on Thursday and the written parts of BPotD will be brief for the next little while.

Here's a mid-July photograph that will find its way into the presentation. This was taken at a lower elevation on Mount Kobau, near Osoyoos, British Columbia. For information about this sagebrush mariposa lily, please visit the previous BPotD entry on Calochortus macrocarpus.

While driving on the access road up the mountain, I recall thinking “I should have seen a mariposa lily by now if I'm going to see any. I guess I'm too early / late.” Ten seconds later, I saw a patch of a few hundred flowers, including this one. Unfortunately, they do not grow close together, so no opportunities to photograph the colour en masse.

Oct 29, 2006: Leucospermum cordifolium

Leucospermum cordifolium

A grateful thank you to Georgie Sharp@Flickr for sharing today's photograph (original image | Flickr BPotD Group Pool). Do spend some time today visiting Georgie's set of Australian flower photographs – absolutely worth exploring!

This photograph didn't have a scientific name associated with it, but based on Georgie's use of “orange pin-cushion plant” (English common names for plants in the Proteaceae), comparisons to other Leucospermum in the pincushions gallery and resemblance to photographs of the wild species, I'm fairly certain this is Leucospermum cordifolium. I've strong doubts that this is the true species, though, considering the plant is cultivated and hybridized in Australia for the cut flower industry. To see a photograph of the wild species in South Africa, where it is native, see BPotD contributor Monika's image: Leucospermum cordifolium. Do note that Monika's photograph is of a more mature flower, so the match isn't perfect.

Instead of writing about the plant today, I'll direct you to one of the best online sources of information: Leucospermum cordifolium, by Hanneke Jamieson of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Entries are going to continue to be brief for the next ten days while I prepare for a couple presentations. If you live in the Vancouver area, you're invited to attend either or both of them – they're free to attend, and in both cases will feature many photographs you won't see on BPotD.

On the evening of Thursday, November 2 at the Vancouver Museum, I'll be presenting “Beauty and the Botanist”. Not only will this presentation include my 2006 photographs of plants and landscapes from BC and Washington, but I'll be weaving in the environmental thoughts and writings of the late Stan Rowe. I'm hoping the two elements combined will create something very special. More details are available from the Native Plant Society of BC (PS You can support the NPSBC by buying a calendar – order forms are on their site).

I'll also be presenting “Plants, Gardens and Natural Areas of Southwestern USA” on Nov. 7 at noon at the garden. This free seminar will be half travelogue and half botanical commentary from my early 2006 trip

Lastly, I should mention that Marc Hachadourian of the New York Botanical Garden will be talking about NYBG's glasshouse collections tomorrow at noon. Again, free. No shortage of opportunities to learn at UBCBG!

Oct 28, 2006: Mahonia ×media 'Charity'

Mahonia ×media 'Charity'

I've been busy preparing for my photography course, so unfortunately I don't have the time to go into detail about this plant. Too bad, since I didn't have the opportunity or time last year either when it was featured on BPotD: Mahonia ×media 'Charity'. You might like to visit Paghat's article about this Mahonia for gardening information about it.

Oct 27, 2006: Hygrocybe coccinea

Hygrocybe coccinea

I hope I'm right with the identification of today's fungus, but if not, someone please correct me. I believe this is Hygrocybe coccinea, commonly known as red waxy cap. One of the difficulties of identifying fungi by visual comparison to other photographs or illustrations is the morphology changing as they age. Examples of excellent or good matches (in my mind) include the second photograph on this page and the illustration on this page. A so-so match is made with this photograph, however, this match is made worse by the author on that page casting doubt as to whether Hygrocybe coccinea actually occurs in North America (and if it doesn't, this clearly isn't Hygrocybe coccinea). Lastly, Mykoweb's Hygrocybe coccinea page with its links to ten other photographs contains only one photograph out of the ten that is a close match. It certainly would have been helpful if I'd photographed these a few days earlier or followed Michael Kuo's advice on collecting mushrooms for study or making spore prints. As a small aside, if I had intended to collect these for identification, I would have needed a permit (they were growing in a provincial park).

Two more links of interest: a web site dedicated to waxcaps in the UK and another page from Michael Kuo, the waxy caps.

Oct 26, 2006: Capsicum annuum cultivars

Capsicum annuum cultivars

I think Eric (Eric in SF@Flickr) has outdone himself with this photograph (no small accomplishment!) (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). It is so very welcome to have some colour when the days are starting to turn grey. Thank you, Eric.

Like many of the other solanaceous plants we eat, Capsicum has its origins in Central and South America. Being more specific is difficult, because of domestication of the wild plant, a topic eloquently covered in Eshbaugh's Peppers: History and Exploitation of a Serendipitous New Crop Discovery (the paper also includes a detailed discussion of the taxonomy).

As is usual with food plants, Purdue University's Center for New Crops and Plant Products has an excellent factsheet with details on economic botany, the chemistry of capsaicinoids (what makes 'em hot!) and a description of the plant.

Wikipedia is also worth investigating; it has a list of cultivars, as well as an explanation of why I didn't attempt to share a common name (scroll down the page) for the international audience that reads BPotD.

Botany / horticulture resource link: I haven't read the paper yet, but the abstract has me intrigued: The Horticultural Trade and Ornamental Plant Invasions in Britain by Dehnen-Schmutz et al. in an upcoming issue of Conservation Biology.

Oct 25, 2006: Dipsacus sativus

Dipsacus sativus

I was initially confused while trying to determine the name of this species, and apparently Linnaeus is to blame. My first inclination was to search online for wool and Dipsacus or teasel and discover what species were used for textiles. Some references pointed to Dipsacus fullonum, or fuller's teasel, as a likely candidate. This species was named by Linnaeus, and seemed to indicate that this was the species used by fullers (people who “bulked up” cloth woven by weavers, to make it feel more full). However, other references suggested Dipsacus sativus, or Indian teasel as the teasel of the textile industry, and ultimately this made far more sense to me.

What are the differences between the two species that bolsters that conclusion? Again, the Jepson Manual helps: Key to Dipsacus. Note that Dipsacus fullonum has more or less flexible receptacle bracts, ending in straight spines while Dipsacus sativus has stiff bracts with recurved spines. If you were going to use one or the other of these to bulk up wool, which would you choose? The one with the recurved spines to catch the wool and pull it. Confusion cleared up.

This photograph is from the small museum in the Mission Santa Barbara in California.

Photography resource link: for inspiration, the photography of Guy Edwardes.

Oct 24, 2006: Vaccinium cylindraceum

Vaccinium cylindraceum

This species of blueberry is endemic to the Azores, hence the English common name of Azores blueberry (though I prefer some of the Portuguese common names). Similar to its North American and European relatives, it is a shrubby understory component of temperate mixed forests

Douglas Justice adds more information about this plant in accompaniment to a photograph of the fruit in this thread on the UBC BG Forums. The Plants for a Future database also has a short entry about the plant.

Oct 23, 2006: Begonia 'Bonfire'

Begonia 'Bonfire'

Thank you to edgeplot@Flickr from Seattle, Washington for sharing today's BPotD (original image | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). I'm grateful!

This is the last day of my short vacation, so only a brief entry with links today. Do visit the original image to read edgeplot's notes about this particular cultivar. I've chosen to drop the epithet boliviensis from the name, following the RHS Plant Finder's convention. Still, it is evident that Begonia boliviensis is responsible for much of the appearance of this attractive cultivar.

Wikipedia's entry on begonia is a worthwhile read. I hadn't realized that Begonia is among the ten largest genera of plants.

Oct 22, 2006: Dinteranthus microspermus subsp. puberulus

Another thank you to Amir from Israel for submitting one of his succulent photographs. Much appreciated!

Unsurprisingly, these small plants have the common name “flowering stone”. If Amir's photograph doesn't convince you of how fitting that name is, see this image of the entire plant with roots or this line drawing.

If you are keen to learn more about these precious plants, visit Interactive Mesembs – click on Tree View, followed by Expand All, and then the small black “i” in the yellow circle beside Dinteranthus.

Oct 21, 2006: Elaeagnus angustifolia

Elaeagnus angustifolia

It's been a few months since a photograph from Maureen aka MontanaRaven@Flickr has appeared on BPotD, so it's time to break that streak (original image | Flickr BPotD Group Pool). Love the autumn colours, Maureen – thank you!

Russian olive or silverberry is native to much of temperate Asia and southeastern Europe. It was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, it can now be found naturalized in the wild in most provinces and states, such that it is indeed considered invasive. It is particularly harmful when it establishes in riparian zones (scroll down to “What problems does it cause?”), where it reduces overall species richness (like so many other invasives).

To see other photographs of this plant, visit the USDA Plants Database: Elaeagnus angustifolia.

Oct 20, 2006: Telopea speciosissima 'Wirrimbirra White'

Telopea speciosissima 'Wirrimbirra White'

A thank you again to Margaret Morgan of Sydney, Australia for sharing her photographs. If you didn't visit her web site when she previously submitted a photograph, here it is again: Margaret Morgan. Thanks, Margaret!

I'm away on a short vacation, so only the photograph and a couple links today. Margaret suggested this link about the species Telopea speciosissima: the Floral Emblem of New South Wales. Information about the cultivar can be found on the site of the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority: Telopea speciosissima 'Wirrimbirra White'.

Oct 19, 2006: Iris domestica

Iris domestica

I've recently written about Iris domestica, but I had posted the entry under a now-rejected scientific name, Belamcanda chinensis. As Brent noted in the comments for that entry, the change was made recently (see: Goldblatt, P. & D.J. Mabberley. 2005. Belamcanda included in Iris, and the new combination I. domestica (Iridaceae: Irideae). Novon 15: 128–132). Carol Wilson, who studies the genus Iris at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, has published a phylogeny of the genus Iris based on DNA sequencing data, illustrating why the placement of Belamcanda in Iris is warranted.

Two items of note for local readers today. First of all, if you have little ones or know someone who does, consider attending or recommending UBC Botanical Garden's Haunted Halloween. Nadine Diner, the garden's education coordinator, is so enthusiastic about this event that it is certain to be a fun and educational afternoon for children!

Speaking of Nadine and education, she's organized the courses and lectures for the next 8 months or so. Do check them out and register early, as some of the courses requiring registration are already nearly full.

Botany resource link: The web site of Belize Botanic Gardens – a very modern site written to subtly entertain and inform (“Call us crazy, but at Belize Botanic Gardens we enjoy figuring out how to grow things without the use of pesticides or chemicals.”). It certainly makes me want to visit. Don't forget to see their orchid photographs.

Oct 18, 2006: Castanea sativa

Fred K. submitted these photographs taken in the Odenwald Forest near Heidelburg, Germany. Thank you, Fred! Fred notes: “This is an impression of Castanea sativa (German: Esskastanie – “ess” meaning “eat”) which can be found in large quantities at this time of year in the forests of southern Germany ... They look great and taste really well baked or roasted!

Spanish chestnut or sweet chestnut is a tree with a long human-related history. Thought to be historically distributed in southeast Europe and Asia Minor, its many uses led it to be cultivated (and naturalized) throughout much of Europe and northern Africa over the span of three thousand years. Its cultivation in North America has been restricted as it is susceptible to chestnut blight, though this is not necessarily the case for trees grown in Europe (source).

The Plants for a Future database goes into detail on the economic botany of this species: Castanea sativa. As alluded to by Fred, the plant is primarily grown for its edible nuts. When roasted, the nuts can incite people to sing holiday carols (I tried to roast some last year, but the first attempt wasn't too successful – better to do it immediately upon purchase of the nuts rather than waiting a couple weeks was the lesson learned). The nuts are also ground into a gluten-free flour, used as a coffee substitute or used to flavour beer (source: Wikipedia – also includes more photographs of the species).

I found the chestnut consumption data via the Small Farm Center at UC Davis to be rather interesting. The per capita consumption in China of chestnuts is roughly 900g / person (2lb.), double the per capita consumption in Europe at 450g / person (1lb.). Lagging far behind is the consumption in the US – 22.5g / person (1/20 of a lb.), suggesting that what is a seasonal treat for North Americans is much more widely used as a food in China and Europe.

Oct 17, 2006: Trentepohlia aurea (tentative)

Trentepohlia aurea

Another thank you to brettf@Flickr for sharing a macro glimpse of an organism (original image). Also, a thank you to GORGEous nature@Flickr for identifying it, since I didn't know about this organism before today. A second image by Brett can be seen here that gives a more distant perspective. Thank you!

Despite its colour, Trentepohlia is actually a green alga. The chlorophyll pigment is masked by the presence of large amounts of β-carotene, the same photosynthetic pigment that causes the orange colouration of most carrots.

The appearance of Trentepohlia so closely resembles a lichen that it warrants a line in the lichen identification keys for British Columbia – a very astute decision, in my opinion.

Read more about this alga at the University of Paisley's Biodiversity Reference page for Trentepohlia (includes microscopic photographs photomicrographs!).

Oct 16, 2006: Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

I imagine one of these days I'll be accused of over-representing maples on BPotD, but my excuse will be that they're perfect for illustrating autumn colour.

Though you might associate Acer japonicum with the common name Japanese maple, that moniker instead refers to Acer palmatum. Acer japonicum is instead commonly known as fullmoon maple or downy Japanese maple. Specialist vendors of Japanese maples will likely sell cultivars of both of these species, though (as well as Acer shirasawanum), since they broadly resemble each other.

I've decided to use 'Aconitifolium' (= leaves like aconite, or monk's-hood) as the cultivar name for this entry because it is the name typically used on public garden or retail labels. However, this cultivar was developed in Japan, and I guarantee the original name wasn't derived from Latin. Supposedly, the translation of its Japanese name means “dancing peacock” in English, suggesting that its cultivar name should be 'Mai kujaku' (source), but even that has been altered so that it is instead sometimes sold as 'Maiku jaku' (apparently a nonsense name in Japanese).

Photographs of this cultivar throughout the seasons are available in this thread in the Maple Photo Gallery, thanks to the contributions of a number of maple enthusiasts.

As an aside, I've become very interested in abstract photography lately thanks to Freeman Patterson. All of the abstracts I've done so far have been “in-camera”. I hope you don't mind if I share the occasional one in accompaniment to a more documentary-style image.

Photography resource link: for inspiration, the photography of Roman Loranc. In particular, investigate the photographs of trees for outstanding images of Californian oaks.

Oct 15, 2006: Lavandula latifolia 'Rosea' (tentative)

Lavandula latifolia 'Rosea'

With eight thousand or so different taxa of plants at UBC, it can be quite the task to ensure the name is correct for each species or cultivar. This task is made more difficult through sourcing little-known cultivated varieties of plants in the quest for displaying the novel. The lavender in this photograph, for example, does not turn up in any search engine results (at least until this page is indexed), nor does UBC have any print references listed in its database.

The lack of any references immediately prompts the question as to whether this accession is misnamed. Lavandula latifolia only returns a few results in the Royal Horticultural Society's Plantfinder, and if you visit the record for L. latifolia, you'll note that the RHS only tentatively accepts the scientific name, suggesting that this species requires a systematic re-examination. At least one cultivar named 'Rosea' does exist for Lavandula, but it is a cultivated variety of Lavandula angustifolia (angustifolia = narrow-leaved), not Lavandula latifolia (latifolia = broad-leaved), so that seems to be a dead-end, though UBC does have Lavandula angustifolia 'Rosea' in its collections as well; I'm not aware of a side-by-side comparison having been done between the two accessions.

This plant goes on the list as “a mystery waiting to be solved”.

On a different note, you might like to read this comment on the Apple Festival. I think next year it might be handy to have an easy, centralized on-line way to record people's stories about the event, like Ruth suggested in the comments on Malus 'Melrose'. It looks like today's weather will be a tad wetter, but that shouldn't dissuade you from attending if you're local – it'll make the taste of the apples even more reminiscent of warm autumn days.

Oct 14, 2006: UBC Arbour Garden

UBC Arbour Garden

UBC Botanical Garden's Arbour Garden contains a small collection of woody vines. Illustrated in this photograph is Boston ivy, or Parthenocissus tricuspidata, a member of the grape family (Vitaceae). Other woody vines that can be found smothering the arbour (though harsh pruning has helped in the past year) include Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia), wisteria and trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). I'm not certain if any of the former ivies (Hedera spp.) remain, as the garden has been aggressibly removing all ivy species in an effort to prevent and combat potential invasiveness.

Oct 13, 2006: Malus 'Melrose'

Malus 'Melrose'

UBC Botanical Garden's annual Apple Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday. “Takes place” sounds so inadequate to me, considering the event requires three hundred volunteers and thousands of hours of work to organize and operate. Not only does it provide opportunities to taste (and hoard) some hard-to-find apples, but events and demonstrations for adults and children occur throughout each day. If you're local, I hope to see you there (I'll be helping people select apples for purchase).

'Melrose' is a close sibling to 'Jonagold', featured on BPotD last year; instead of a 'Golden Delicious' × 'Jonathan' hybrid, 'Melrose' is a hybrid between 'Jonathan' and 'Delicious'. It was developed in 1940 at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station by Freeman Howlett. Howlett had the nickname “Screaming Freeman” (source – PDF), but I haven't been able to uncover any stories or anecdotes behind the nickname. In 1970, the Ohio State Horticultural Society named 'Melrose' the state apple.

As noted by the Ohio State University Extension service, 'Melrose' is a good general use apple: stores well, is crisp-textured, tastes sweet with a hint of tartness, and is used for pies, applesauce and baking. Its appearance may not win it awards, but I'm certain many would agree that much has been lost in the quest for visual (i.e., market) appeal in the breeding of fruits and vegetables.

Oct 12, 2006: Euonymus europaeus

Euonymus europaeus

European spindle is native to much of Europe and western Asia, but can also be found as an introduced invasive weed in eastern North America and New Zealand. It is seemingly well-behaved in coastal southern British Columbia, though Brent Hine will perhaps comment on whether he discovers any errant seedlings from this small tree.

The garden has an interpretative sign associated with this plant. More details are available from the Plants for a Future database.

Oct 11, 2006: Macrolepiota rachodes

Macrolepiota rachodes

Thank you to silvercreek_garden@Flickr for sharing today's image of this fungus (original image) growing in Bellingham, Washington.

Many field guides will list the scientific name of shaggy parasol as Lepiota rachodes, but again, molecular techniques have split the traditional genus Lepiota into a number of genera. Michael Kuo of MushroomExpert.com explains the changes (and offers a few opinions) in two online articles: Lepiota and Satellite Genera and Taxonomy in Transition: The Lepiotoid Clade.

Shaggy parasol is distributed throughout much of North America and Europe. It is edible, but as silvercreek_garden notes, some people have allergic reactions to it. I suppose I should add: be absolutely certain about the identity of any mushroom before ingesting it; though difficult to mistake for anything else, there are a few lookalikes for shaggy parasol that an untrained observer might err on (including toxic amanitas). Mykoweb has a good description of Macrolepiota rachodes with comments on its lookalikes (and there is a separate page with recipes).

Botany resource link: “The Botanist Effect” (subscription required if you want to read more than the abstract), a paper in the November 2006 issue of the Journal of Biogeography by Moerman and Esterbrook. The subtitle provides a good summary: “Counties with maximal species richness tend to be home to universities and botanists”.

Oct 10, 2006: Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

The oft-misspelled Salvia guaranitica (a search for Salvia guarantica – note the absent “i”) is native to South America. This cultivar, 'Black and Blue', was selected for its nearly-black stems and calyces. Known commonly as blue anise-sage or sapphire sage, Salvia guaranitica is a popular and striking plant in gardens. Paghat has an as-always excellent article about Salvia guaranitica where you can learn more about this plant if you find yourself considering it for your garden.

I should mention that the orange in the background of today's photograph is from Kniphofia triangularis, another eye-catching ornamental.

Photography resource link: for inspiration, the photography of Robert Glenn Ketchum.

Oct 9, 2006: Acer circinatum

Acer circinatum

It turns out I was able to make an autumn visit to Manning Park after all, and it was well worth the 5 AM start to the day. Instead of spending time in Manning, though, I spent most of Saturday in the adjoining Skagit Valley Provincial Park. Access to the Skagit River Trail begins at Sumallo Grove in Manning, but quickly enters the adjacent park. The walk took me to the 7km mark or so of the trail, so the goal of seeing the golden-coloured cottonwoods that I presume exist deep in the Cottonwoods Ecological Reserve failed, but from observing a few other cottonwoods along the trail, many leaves had already fallen. I'll have to wait another year and instead go in mid-September, I think.

Despite that bit of disappointment, I was pleased with this photograph of vine maple (previously featured on BPotD here, here and here!) as it better portrays the warm and cool colour blend I associate with these parks at this time of year. This was taken near the 1.8km point of the trail, in the rock slide area.

Oct 8, 2006: Fungus Diversity

Fungus Diversity

After noticing her set of fungus photographs on Flickr, I have to admit to hoping that Monika (half of monika&manfred@Flickr) would submit a few for use on BPotD. Lo and behold! Monika created a mosaic of her images and (without me asking) submitted it to the BPotD group pool on Flickr (original image) Thank you again, Monika!

If you're curious as to the names of some the fungi featured in the mosaic, you'll have to visit the original image on Flickr (it would take me a long time to reproduce all the links to the original photographs!). You will note that not all of the fungi are identified – fungi can be as difficult to identify as lichens, if not more so. Spend a little bit of time on the fungi, lichens and slime molds identification forum and you'll quickly learn what's necessary for sussing out the identity of a particular fungus: spore prints, substrate, mature (but not overly so) fruiting bodies, habitat and more.

Are you local to Vancouver? If so, you have access to a shortcut for IDing your fungus: the Vancouver Mycological Society is holding a mushroom show on Oct 22 from 11am to 4pm at VanDusen; in addition to visiting the displays and mushroom cooking demos, show attendees can bring in their mystery mushroom and VMS members will do their best at identifying the fungus.

Oct 7, 2006: Nepenthes sibuyanensis

Nepenthes sibuyanensis

Thanks once again to Eric in San Francisco (Eric in SF@Flickr) for submitting his unique plant photographs to BPotD via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool (original image) – very much appreciated!

Any epithet ending in -ensis or -ense gives a hint to the geographical location where a species was first recorded by Western science, e.g. yunnanense (a plant found in the Yunnan province of China), canadensis, missouriensis and so on. Sibuyan is a 445 km2 island in The Phillippines, and a precious place by the sound of the Wikipedia entry: “In one study, the National Museum identified 1,551 trees in a single hectare, with 123 species of trees, and of this number, 54 are found nowhere else in the world”. Considering this, it is no surprise that this species was only scientifically discovered ten years ago, and the name only officially published eight years ago: Nepenthes sibuyanensis, A New Nepenthes From Sibuyan, A Remote Island of the Philippines (Eric, thanks for the link as well).

The family Nepenthaceae is restricted to southeast Asia, northeast Australia, Madagascar and some of the islands in Oceania. Like other members of its family, Nepenthes sibuyanensis is an insectivore. The Botanical Society of America has an excellent summary page on Nepenthes and other carnivorous plants.

Colchicum autumnale and Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'

Andy Hill, the horticulturist who is responsible for the Physic Garden, suggested I photograph this ephemeral combination of autumn crocus and 'Purpurea' wine grape, so here it is. The Physic Garden, if you haven't visited it lately, is a gem to visit – every plant is well-tended, labelled and accompanied by a small interpretative sign.

Plants are selected for the Physic Garden based on their historical use as medicinal plants in Europe – you can consider the garden an ancient-day pharmacy or drugstore. However, that's not to say the plants were effective in treatment, only that they were used — appropriately or not — to treat ailments. The Plants for a Future database has entries on both of these taxa: Colchicum autumnale and Vitis vinifera.

By the way, if you are wondering as to why the colchicum are flopsy, you might like to read this recent thread on the UBC Botanical Garden Forums: fall crocuses falling over.

As a second aside for local readers, I did attend Ron Long's presentation on Death Valley wildflowers last night – I highly recommend you see it if and when he presents it again. Plenty of photographs of our shared favourite photographic subjects, cacti and Calochortus. I'll post a reminder in a subsequent entry, but I'll be presenting next month on the evening of November 2. The working title is “Beauty and the Botanist” (a nod of appreciation to Stan Rowe), and the presentation will feature photographs from my BC and Washington travels this year with a mix of scientific and artistic commentary. What you see on BPotD from these trips is sometimes only 2 or 3 photographs out of a hundred or 150, so nearly all of the images will be new to you (if you attend, which I hope you will).

Oct 5, 2006: Sorbus scopulina

For a change of pace, I decided to venture out and photograph in the midday sun on a nearly cloudless day. This is something I rarely do for photographing plants, unless required by circumstance. As you can tell from these photographs, taking pictures at this time of day can lead to oversaturated colours and blown highlights or shadows. However, I'd argue it's acceptable to ignore conventional wisdom when attempting to photograph evocative bright autumn colours.

The epithet scopulina means “growing in rocky places” (see Botanical Latin at Calflora.net). Considering this mountain ash is native to western North America from Alaska to California, and more specifically, the Western or Pacific Cordillera, its association with rocks seems fitting. A few common names are bandied about: Greene's mountain ash, western mountain ash and sometimes Cascade mountain ash, though this is more often associated with the variety cascadensis.

For more images, see the comprehensive set of photographs of Sorbus scopulina at the Burke Museum of Natural History. Also, thanks to the Plants for a Future database entry on this mountain-ash, I've learned a new word: bletted, regarding the edibility of the fruit for this rose and apple relative.

Art resource link: “Taste For Makers”, an article by Paul Graham on beauty, good design and taste.

Oct 4, 2006: Morganella pyriformis (tentative)

Morganella pyriformis

Morganella pyriformis is a puffball. The mature fruiting body of the fungus bursts open and releases the spores, after some physical force has been applied. I've been known to help a few of these along.

Prior to 2003, this fungus was known as Lycoperdon pyriforme. It has since been moved out of the genus Lycoperdon based on molecular evidence and morphological difference to other members of the genus. No longer is the evocative common name suggested by Tom Volk a literal translation of the genus name. A different common name, pear-shaped puffball, is perhaps more proper. After all, the epithet pyriformis does mean “in the form of Pyrus (pear)”. However, I'll personally use the one proposed by Tom, because I know I'll never forget it.

Tom's article also has a story about the results of deeply inhaling the spores of puffballs (don't do it). Illustrations and descriptions of Morganella pyriformis are available from both Mykoweb and Michael Kuo's MushroomExpert.com.

Oct 3, 2006: David C. Lam Asian Garden

David C. Lam Asian Garden

This photograph on a subdued, foggy day in 2005 illustrates the dark-red autumn colour of Euonymus carnosus. Every year I photograph this plant in the autumn, and every year, I'm not entirely pleased with the results. Of course, this is what keeps me going back to it and challenging myself to do better.

For local readers, do try to attend Ron Long's presentation on “Wildflowers of Death Valley” this Thursday night at 7:15 at the Vancouver Museum (part of the NPSBC's South Coast Study Group meeting). Ron visited Death Valley in 2005 to photograph the “bloom of the century” – if you didn't get a chance to see the bloom in person during 2005, Ron's photography is a good substitute.

Oct 2, 2006: E.C. Manning Provincial Park

E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Autumn colours in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, taken last year on October 2. This photograph doesn't rank among my favourites, but it serves as a reminder of the photographic potential here – warm, autumnal colours set against the cool blue rock of the area. I'm not certain I will get a chance to return to the park this autumn, but if I do, I hope I'll be able to improve upon this image.

Oct 1, 2006: Tristagma uniflorum

Tristagma uniflorum

Many thanks to Gabriela R. aka Morti Riuuallon@Flickr for sharing today's photograph (original image | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). Gabriela resides in Buenos Aries, Argentina; do take the time to visit her set of Flickr photographs with its Argentinian flora and fauna. Thanks again, Gabriela!

As the wildflower season (and indeed, garden flower season) winds down where I reside, spring flowers are starting in South America, Australia and Africa; this gives BPotD an opportunity to show flowers “in season” year-round when generous people from around the world share their images. Of course, BPotD isn't all about flowers (as the previous week's images will attest to), but warm, bright colours will certainly be a welcome respite for those in the northern hemisphere over the coming months.

A member of the onion family, Tristagma uniflorum is known as springstar in English, or, as Gabriela notes, estrellita in Spanish. Its classification remains tentative, as not all botanists agree that it belongs to the genus Tristagma. Gabriela also lists its synonyms: Ipheion uniflora, Brodiaea uniflora, Milla uniflora and Triteleia uniflora. This thread of confusion is also woven into the account of the genus Tristagma on the Pacific Bulb Society wiki. In fact, they opt to disregard the name of Tristagma uniflorum proposed by Traub, instead using the name Ipheion uniflora.

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