John’s Weather Forecasting Stone: “more accurate than the weatherman.”
Gentiana catesbaei (Elliot’s Gentian), native perennial to the north- and southeastern United States, and Gallinua Americana (Soree).
Mark Catesby, Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1754).
March 14th is Pi Day!
And to celebrate we are going to honor the Pinophyta Division (conifers) of the Plant Kingdom, specifically, trees with botanical names that begin with “Pi” ~ like Picea and Pinus.
Pinophytes are gymnosperms (seed-producing plants) that include conifers. The Latin word Coniferae means cone-bearing, or fruit-bearing of a conical shape. Conifers in the Pinophyta Division consist of cedar, fir, juniper, redwood, hemlock, spruce, yew, and pine, to name a few. Coniferous trees can be found on every continent in the world, except Antarctica (where they thrived during the Cretaceous period).
Conifers are evergreen and highly adaptable to very cold climates. Their needles “harden off” before winter temperatures plunge, making them resistant to freezing snow and ice. Their symmetrically-tapered shape and downward-sloping limbs allow them to shed snow in winter so that their branches do not break under the weight of accumulated snow. Isn’t it ironic that conifers no longer exist on Antarctica?
Pinophytes do not flower. Rather, conifers produce both male and female cones on the same tree. The female cone (ovulate cone) contains ovules which are fertilized by pollen-bearing cones (the males). Pollen is transferred to the female cone by wind and insect movement in the spring. While the pollen grains develop into seeds, the scales on the cone remain tightly closed to protect the maturing seeds. Once the seeds have matured, the scales on the cone begin to open and seeds fall to the ground, or are carried off by wind and insects. March 14th is just days before spring…the perfect time to celebrate Pinophytes.
Pictured above: a few “Pi” trees and their cones. Pinus and Picea are both classified in the Pinophyta Division of the Plant Kingdom.
Happy Pi Day! Celebrating the day with Pinophytes.
Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Page from a Dutch book on paper-making, a rare edition published in Amsterdam by Jan Christiaan Sepp (1770).
Research on paper-making and experiments with vegetable materials as an alternative to “rags” was crucial at this time. Rags (recycled fibers from used textiles), were in short supply, so transforming different types of material into paper, without the use of rag fibers, became a necessity. Plant materials that were converted into paper products included tree moss, grapevine bark, hemp, stinging nettle, cabbage stalks, and hop tendrils, to name a few. Jacob Christian Schäffer (1718-1790) was the key figure in the research for rag alternatives, producing several volumes on his research.
this is important because we can (as a culture) identify more company logos than plant species. thats sad
I can easily identify more plant species than company logos. :)
Tab. III Scolia quinquepunctata and Tenthredo germanica (Wasp).
Jacob Sturm (1796) Verzeichniss meiner Insecten-Sammlung
As you probably know, today is international women’s day. So I’m going to go right ahead and tell you that Maria Sibylla Merian is one of my favorite badass ladies of the science/art world.
Born in Germany during the mid 1600s, Merian began her artistic career at a young age, painting her first observations of insects around age 13. She spent most of her life studying and composing beautiful watercolor paintings of her observations of nature and is most noted for being the first person to clearly record the life cycles of moths and butterflies. She made a self-funded expedition to Suriname where she recorded a bunch of previously unknown flora and fauna, she invented a washable fabric cloth, and published several books. Mind you, this was at a time when oil paints weren’t considered lady-like, the western world believed that moths and butterflies spontaneously birthed themselves from mud, and western ladies were advised not to go into tropical climates because it was known that women would furiously menstruate themselves into a hemorrhaging death.
Please do yourself a favor and go read a book about this woman. Thank you for your time.
I’ve written a few papers on her, but I don’t have the time to go dig them up right now. I’ll suggest some readings for you when I find them.
Know your shoots from your roots! The tomato: to know me, is to love me.
Those plants in your garden….the root systems are like blood vessels, making their way through the soil. Feed them properly and responsibly, don’t drown them with over attention, and don’t starve them to death. Establish that “Zone of Elongation” to get your “Zone of Maturation” and your garden will thrive.