Thursday: 30 June 2005
I’m afraid I’m not competent to identify snakes by their skins. I count 23-25 rows of scales. I previously mentioned our little red-bellied water snake, and we’ve found another little one since. While I doubt if this could be the little ones grown up, the little ones do imply a big one so maybe this is an indication of that parent. For what it may be worth, here’s the head and anus region:
It strikes me that our ponds are getting a little crowded -this fellow, at least one large snapping turtle, tons of frogs, several koi, and I’m really surprised that they’re still around under the circumstances.
Wednesday: 29 June 2005
The spikes of buds are attractive and interesting, but the flowers are now opening. The numerous inflorescences resemble bottlebrushes, hence the name.
The individual white flowers are trumpet shaped, and sport six long long stamens with salmon-pink anthers; there are on the order of 100 on each inflorescence. There is a pedicel, so this inflorescence, opening from the bottom up, must be a raceme. They’re attractive to bees, small wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
I’ve not noticed any nibbling of the leaves, which isn’t too surprising since all parts of Aesculus species are poisonous. As a consequence they’re great for deer-infested areas, since they’re fairly resistant, and I’ve planted seedlings of this species and of Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) up and down the drive. The Caterpillar Host Plants Database suggests a number of lepidopterans that use buckeyes as host plant.
I’d probably recommend a moister than average soil, as these plants will wilt in a Republican Administration. Don’t expect too many seeds, as despite the literally thousands of flowers, this plant will probably only mature a couple dozen classic buckeye seeds. The large seeds are also poisonous, so if you have small kids, well, it’s up to you. None of the Aesculus produce desiccation tolerant seeds - they must be planted as soon as they drop or they’ll shrivel and die.
Because of its size it’s probably not the best thing for a mass planting or for small yards. As a specimen plant it’s great, and its drooping branches allow for planting spring ephemerals such as bloodroot, or ferns, underneath, which will be protected from the increasingly intense sun as spring moves into summer.
UPDATE - One of those coincidences that tickles me - Tom Kimmerer at Tree Trends has an excellent article on aesculins, the toxic compound present in buckeye seeds. Through The Tangled Bank this time around hosted by David Winter of Science and Sensibility. Guess I should start watching for poisoned bees at the base of the buckeye!
Tuesday: 28 June 2005
Those who have followed this blog for awhile know that I keep tabs on the climate here in Athens, Georgia. I have my own raingauge! I also use the data offered by NOAA at the National Weather Service Forecast, from which you can probably find daily and monthly rainfall and temperatures for your area. I’ve been plotting such data for the years since 1920, selected somewhat arbitrarily. Here’s a typical rainfall plot:
The black horizontal line through the center marks our average rainfall over the last 85 years, and the blue and red lines the span of the standard deviation. The 11-month running average is to smooth things out a bit. Blue means rainfall excess, and red means drought.
You can easily see that even our area in Athens was affected by the high temperatures and drought conditions experience by the Northern Hemisphere in the 1920s and 1930s; the Dust Bowl. The 1950s were an extended period of high temperatures and drought conditions, as were the 1980s. The 1960s brought us extensive rainfall, as did most of the 1990s. Finally, except for the last year or so, the years since the late 1990s have marked the deepest droughts since the 1950s and 1980s.
Here’s the same plot, tagged with the years in office of the presidents since 1920. And I think we all know that red means Republican and Democrats are marked by blue.
With a very few exceptions, it is clear that periods of drought coincide with Republican presidents, and sufficient rainfall coincides with presidents who were Democrats.
The Dust Bowl period of the 20’s and early 30s occurred during the watches of three Republican presidents, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. (The admirable spike of wet weather during Hoover’s administration is inexplicable, but was followed by a deep period of drought in the latter half.) With the exception of a brief, shallow drought 1939-1942, FDR presided over nearly 16 years of rainfall sufficiency, while Eisenhower was pure drought all the way through. I suspect Truman was a closet Republican. JFK, and LBJ, for all his faults, are coincident with the cool, rainy times of the 60’s, right up until Nixon took office. And might I point out that we had a Democratic Congress during these bountiful years? Nixon and Ford are difficult to parse, but it might be pointed out that Nixon did initiate a number of critical environmental policies; these might be indicative of a progressive leaning despite his obvious faults. Carter enjoyed a sufficiency of rainfall early on with a short drought toward the end, right around the October Surprise. Reagan presided over the deepest droughts since Eisenhower, exacerbated later by the Republican Senate. We the people paid for Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America, as well as congressional disapproval over national healthcare during the early part of the Clinton administration, and suffered further by the House’s impeachment in the late 1990s. Otherwise the gods clearly favored Clinton by bestowing at least six periods of sufficient rainfall over most of his terms. Needless to say, Dubya and his congressional control has had us in deep drought since he took office.
Tweaking of these qualitative correlations should probably be done by considering additionally the balance of congressional power during the executive administration in question. I suspect the rise of wingers like Dobson presage climatic misery for us all. The broad conclusions are obvious. If you want rain, vote Democrat. If you like drought, Dubya and his minions are your men. It’s up to you.
Oh yes, for the ironically impaired,
Monday: 27 June 2005
Yesterday morning at 4am I found a cicada emerging from its old nymph exoskeleton. This is not one of the Magicicada species; those are the periodical cicadas that most famously emerge every 13 to 17 years and have red eyes and legs. This is probably a Tibicen species, nonperiodical and whose nymphs are underground for only three years or so. (See here for a nice intro to cicadas.) Glenn held the flashlight while I took the pics. The two below were taken about half an hour apart. Notice the little green “flippers”; those will presumably unfold to become the wings.
There’s a great series of emerging cicadas at bugguide.net.
Within an hour the cicadas wings were fully unrolled and drying, and by daybreak it had folded them against the body. It was about 10am before it finally flew off.
Sunday: 26 June 2005
Now, I should say I don’t KNOW these are dogwood sawfly larvae. Perhaps they’re larvae of a rare endangered species.
Also, I admit I haven’t investigated the latest couple of years, but most horticulturalists poopoo the anthracnose fungus problem of flowering dogwood. I think they may be speaking horticulturally rather than ecologically.
It’s not that I mind them feeding on the leaves, which they’re doing, after all, that’s why the plants’re there. But I think these are probably dogwood sawfly larvae ( Macremphytus tarsatus ), based solely on behavior and written description, so I could be wrong. Sawflies are hymenopterans, belonging to the order containing wasps and bees, and their larvae are generally damaging to plants. The adults are somewhat wasplike, and feed mostly on nectar.
We only have a couple of silky dogwoods, which are among those listed as falling victim to dogwood sawfly. I’ve never seen the larvae go after our extremely numerous flowering dogwoods, Cornus florida. However I found a reference to the larvae as potential hosts to a parasitic wasp. Yesterday a black and white warbler was scurrying up and down the tree, but couldn’t confirm that it was eating anything. So I’m inclined to just leave the larvae alone.
By the way, I really like our silky dogwoods. They don’t make the tight head of the flowering dogwood; silkies make cymes with much looser clusters of florets. These were extremely attractive to all manner of bees and tiny wasps, and I observed a lot of young wheelbugs prowling about them. The plant is not so much a tree as a spreading shrub, and takes well to pruning. The anoles and gray treefrogs really appreciate the horizontally spreading branches.
Friday: 24 June 2005
There are a few red spots on the dorsal surface of the forewing, but the dorsal surface is primarily a vivid blue and black. There are many more intense red spots on the ventral side of the fore and hindwings. Unlike our little azures and crescents which flit madly around upon disturbance, the red-spotted admirals were much more sedate, allowing me to get quite close and even touch them before becoming agitated.
Now where did they come from all of a sudden? I don’t get any impression that they’re migraters. The larvae, which feed on a number of trees and shrubs (in our area, probably oaks, vaccinium, wild cherry, and hawthorne) overwinter as third-stagers, so perhaps they just emerged from that generation. According to the Georgia Butterflies page on this species, we’ll get two broods until October. The adults feed on such delicacies as sap flows, rotting fruit, dung, and carrion, but also go after nectar here and there, perhaps for dessert after the main course.
The Red-spotted Admiral is a Batesian mimic. It resembles the unpalatable Pipevine Swallowtail sufficiently to dissuade predators from consuming it, much in the same way that the Viceroy resembles the milkweed-consuming Monarch butterfly. Interestingly, the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is in the same genus as the Red-spotted Admiral.
Thursday: 23 June 2005
This morning Glenn alerted me to one sitting boldly on a redbud stump. He’s clearly up to something, giving his call (found at Tennessee Frogs and Toads) every time he hears the other one just a few feet away.
There was actually another pair indulging a few feet away. Both were fairly exposed to cats, so I lifted them high up into a crabapple. Did it bother them? Not a bit. Presumably the female will now descend briefly to the pond and lay her strings of fertilized eggs. Then there’s cleavage, and blastulas and gastrulation! Good luck!
Gray Treefrogs, Leopard Frogs, and Bullfrogs were the first to inhabit our ponds. In the early years we might get a week or so of cacophany. Then the American Toads arrived, followed by Eastern Narrow-mouth Frog (which we had to dig up to identify - they’re very shy), and the nights of partying lengthened. Now there are Green Frogs, Green Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, Chorus Frogs, and Spring Peepers. Did I leave anyone out? Well, we’ve identified all these by actual sight, but swear there are some sounds out there that must be due to something else we haven’t actually seen. The night noises have been going on since late March and show no signs of stopping.
Occasionally I hear of people desperately trying to find some way of exterminating their frogs due to the noise. I admit it can be quite deafening but the louder it gets the more hilarious - here’s all these hundreds of frogs talking about one particular thing at the tops of their little lungs, and they’re not afraid of Republicans at all! I don’t understand the noise problem, which I suspect couldn’t drown out the hermetically sealed air conditioned indoor television or stereo anyway. I get a huge amount of joy out of hearing them and knowing we have a small part of the world that can keep them healthy and happy.
Wednesday: 22 June 2005
As soon as I started handling him, he played dead, drawing all his legs up and hiding his antennae. I placed him on his back and he sat there for a few minutes, then extended his antennae a bit. A few minutes later he extended his legs. And then, as if you had any doubt in the identification, he used that special little hinged spine he carries around in a groove on his underside and with a very loud CLICK sprang into the air, fell upright, and off he went.
What good is a click beetle? Not much apparently. Birds, if not intimidated by the eyespots or fooled by the escape mechanism, will eat them. The larvae, called wireworms, eat plant roots and can be a problem in vegetable gardens if in large numbers. Click beetles, sometimes called Eyed Elaters, are in the Elateridae family.
Regardless, he’s a pretty handsome beetle. Apparently some tropical click beetles are luminescent. That would be fun!
Monday: 20 June 2005
Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,
And grasses are hollow
All the way to the ground.
There’s about as many variations to this as there are bottles of beer on the wall. Here’s another:
Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,
Grasses have joints
When the cops aren’t around.
The couplet “sedges have edges, rushes are round” seems to be pretty invariant. If you feel the stem of a sedge, it will be triangular in cross-section - a very easy identifying feature. Rush stems are round, and there are no joints. Pretty much anything else will be a grass.
All three families of grasslike plants are monocots, and are flowering plants. Grasses are in the family Poaceae (used to be Graminae); Juncaceae are the rushes, and Cyperaceae contain the sedges. All three groups are extremely important ecologically in all sorts of habitats, from dry, hot, and sunny to wet and shady. Wetland sedges and rushes provide habitat for many animals, and all three groups produce copious seeds eaten by birds and small mammals. While butterflies and moths aren’t interested in the flowers (no nectar), the larvae of a large number of lepidopteran species consume these plants and pupate overwinter in the roots of grasslike plants.
Grasses only appeared as bamboo-like plants around 50 million years ago, long after the Big Asteroid Dinosaur Killer 65MYA (flowering plants have been around at least 140 MY). They really only got going good and replacing older ecosystems, such as prairies of ferns, around 20 MYA, during a global cooling and drying that lasted megayears. The coevolution between horses and grasses in and around the Miocene Period is a fascinating story of arms races. A brief summary of several instances of coevolution, including that between grazers and grasses, is given here.
We’ve been having a lot of fun identifying some of the grasses, sedges, and rushes that grow around here. Well, I should say Glenn has been doing most of the keying work - I assume he’s having fun. All the grasslike plants we’ve worked with so far are “cool-season” grasses - the ones that pop up in late winter/early spring and flower and produce seeds before the heat of summer. Those that will produce seeds in the late summer/early autumn are “warm-season” grasses.
One of the problems with keying out grass-like plants is that they have their own vocabulary for inflorescences, flowers, and flower parts. Inflorescences are called spikes in grasses, and the individual collection of one or more florets on a floral stem are called spikelets. In place of petals and sepals you have glumes, palea, and lemma.
It probably makes sense that you do have different vocabulary. You might think just by looking at a grass flower that it’s evolutionarily very primitive, but just the reverse is true. Grass flowers are heavily modified, in keeping with their rapid evolutionary development. These modifications have resulted in substitution of flowers for insect pollination by flowers structured for pollination by the wind. There are no petals and sepals; who needs 'em when you cast your male gametophytes into the breeze? Anthers produce extremely dry, light pollen; female stigmas are hairy and sticky so as to catch the windblown pollen. And so you usually don’t find grasses growing isolated by any great distance. They grow in masses, where wind pollination is effective.
Here’s a couple of cool-season grasses that I particularly like, and are very easy to recognize. Hystrix patula is Bottlebrush Grass - it’s now been placed with similar grasses into the genus Elymus, as E. hystrix. The vegetative part of the plant is pretty coarse, but the inflorescences are very striking and will last a long time into the summer before the fruits finally break off. Many grasses have long appendages attached to the fruit; these are called awns and give the grass head a graceful look. So each one of those awns is attached to a developing fruit, called a caryopsis, which contains a single seed.
On the left below is a real closeup of bottlebrush, and thank goodness they still call the fertile flower parts stamens, anthers, styles and stigmas. Glumes are bracts that cover the developing spikelet of florets and the appearance and number of these are often important identifying characters. On the right below is bottlebrush’s relative, Elymus virginicus or Virginia Wildrye, or just Wild Rye. It too has awns, but they’re not stiff and long, they curve upward. They’ll lengthen somewhat as the seeds mature and produce a very nice-looking head that lasts well into the winter.
Sunday: 19 June 2005
First, most calicos and tortoiseshells are female; the rare male ones are (usually? always?) sterile. In the comments at Rurality it was suggested that orange females are rare. This may be true; I can’t say, but I can speculate why that might be the case.
To start with, orange and a certain type of black are sex-linked traits. They’re carried on the X chromosome. Sex chromosomes work the same way in cats as in humans: XX is female; XY is male. The Y chromosome is an itty-bitty thing and lacks the vast majority of genes, including coat color, that the X chromosome carries.
So the only way to get an orange AND black kitty is to have two X chromosomes; i.e., kitty must be a female. One X chromosome carries the XO (orange) and the other carries the XB (black). On a white background this gives a calico and on a brown background it gives a tortoiseshell. Since males (XY) only have one X chromosome, they can only be orange (XO/Y) or black (XB/Y), but not both.
Several little details:
Tortoiseshells and calicos are clearly sectored (and what a great name for one: “Sector”!); that is, black and orange aren’t evenly mixed, some parts are black and some parts are orange. Patches, not mixtures. How does this happen? During development in females, when there just a few cells, one of the X-chromosomes in each cell gets turned off randomly. So some cells will turn off the orange gene and some will turn off the black gene. All cells that descend from those cells will carry either orange, or black, but not both. Presto! You get unmixed patches of each color. (So “Patches” is a good name too, if you don’t like “Sector”.)
And by the way - there’s a human trait that works this way too - a mutation in an X-linked gene that helps to form sweat glands prevents sweat glands from forming. A female who is heterozygous for this mutation will have sweat glands on parts of her body, but not on other parts.
Second thing - we know there are male tortoiseshells and calicos; they’re just rare. A male who is a tortie or a calico has TWO X chromosomes, plus the Y; a chromosomal abnormality. He is then XO/XB/Y, a condition called Kleinfelter syndrome, and it occurs in humans too. My impression is that Kleinfelter kitties would be sterile.
Last thing - again I don’t know if female oranges are rarer than male oranges, but if they are, here’s a speculative reason:
For a female to be orange she must be XO/XO, that is BOTH X chromosomes must carry orange. For a male to be orange he must merely be XO/Y. The probability that female will get both XO genes is the square of the probability that a male will. If 10% (0.1) of males are orange, then 1% (0.1 x 0.1 = 0.01) of females would be. This is the same reason why sex-linked diseases like hemophilia are more common in male humans than in female humans.
So why aren’t black females rare? Possibly because there’s more than one way to be a black cat - it could be because of the sex chromosome black gene, or because of a black gene carried on a non-sex chromosome.
Now you know all about genetics.
ADDENDUM: After I wrote this I found an excellent article with pictures at a Clermont College Biology website.
Saturday: 18 June 2005
Down at the stream, two damselflies were flitting about. We chased each other for a good long time before I finally caught up to one sitting on a painted buckeye leaf. The photo doesn’t do justice to the vivid iridescent blue of the abdomen, and the blue-green racing stripe down the abdominal length. The wings were entirely black. I’m guessing one of the broad-winged damselflies, Black-winged or Ebony-winged Damselfly, Calopteryx maculata.
Along the bonnie banks of Goulding Creek I saw a 4" stick move out of the corner of my eye.
When poked, he curled and uncurled violently, then rested upside down for a few moments. Finally he looped his way up a small stem in inchworm fashion but the size and numbers of legs says not inchworm. The critical thing here is that he was about 4" long and half inch in diameter, a fearsome beast. Touch him? I think not. Oh, Gle-enn!!
Finally, a little green metallic bee buzzing about in the milkweed. I’m thinking it’s one of the sweatbees, a halictid, some Agapostemon species.
Friday: 17 June 2005
Milkweeds are traditionally placed in the milkweed family Asclepiadaceae. However there’s long been an effort to combine this family with the dogbane family Apocynaceae and place all those plants under that name. DNA evidence tends to affirm this move.
Not only do the leaves of milkweeds serve as food for Monarch butterflies, but the flowers produce plenty of nectar and are attractive to a large range of butterflies, bees, and wasps. The milkweed flower, portrayed very nicely here, is a very strange flower. Lots of fusions and modification have produced several structures found in no other flowers.
This is most likely Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Milkweeds produce standard 5-mer flowers, that is five parts: five sepals, five petals, and so forth. But these parts have been highly fused and modified. In the rightmost picture below, you see an ant nestled in the upside-down flower of a milkweed inflorescence. The lightly lavender-colored “petals” it is sitting within are actually modified from fused petal and stamen filaments (the filaments hold up the pollen producing anthers in “normal” flowers). These new structures are called coronas, and horns arise from the base of these and curl over the female part. Below these (if you imagine the flower turned upside down) are the perfectly symmetrical sepals, more of a greenish in color.
Pollen isn’t produced as individual grains in the milkweed, it’s cemented together into a structure called a pollinium. The entire pollinium is carted off by a bee or wasp and deposited on another flower’s female part; it’s an all or nothing affair.
And the female structure is as strange as any of these; it’s called a gynostegium, and it’s a fortress-like structure in the center of the flower. It’s constructed of parts of the stamens, anthers, and stigma, all fused together. An insect must descend into this “fortress” to obtain nectar, and all these elaborations ensure that the pollinia get moved about.
Milkweeds produce the simplest kind of fruit, a follicle, which most people call a “pod”. The seeds are flat and very light and mobilized by long fine threads that enable them to float through the air with the greatest of ease.
There are tons of species in the Asclepias genus: swamp milkweed A. incarnata, with its crimson flowers; white-flowered A. speciosa; and the familiar butterfly weed with its brilliant orange flowers, A. tuberosa. They all like lots of sun; swamp milkweed additionally likes moist conditions and should be planted in sunny boggy or swampy areas. Collect 'em all!
Now here’s another milkweed genus, Matelea (pronounced muh-TEE-lee-uh). These are climbing vines, and they were one of our first discoveries on the property. They produce small green or green and brown flowers; very pretty to my eye but somewhat insignificant until you actually look at them. This flower is probably of Anglepod or Spinypod, Matelea carolinensis or Matelea gonocarpos. However a number of Matelea species are rare and endangered and there’s just this possibility that we have one or more of these. I really must persuade Glenn to key all of ours out.
This morning, two species of insects were partaking of the amenities offered by these milkweeds. A colorful milkweed beetle was having breakfast, and both milkweed species had several of these munching away. The pyralis fireflies in the rightmost picture were caught in the act of early-morning nookie on the Matelea (there was actually a third firefly desperately trying to get involved; I was reminded of a bar scene).
Milkweeds are sometimes hard to establish. One of the reasons for this is that they are such attractive caterpillar food plants that in the first year or two the plants can be ravaged nearly to death. Be persistant though, in the next year the plants will be large and vigorous and will be able to take all sorts of caterpillar-dealt punishments and still thrive.
Wednesday: 15 June 2005
Yesterday, I’m thinking I was delighted to find caterpillars feeding on these plants. They’re small and probably young; maybe too young to show the full range of coloration, but I’m thinking Common Buckeye Butterfly. The bristles do branch. Mourning Cloak is a remote possibility (wrong caterpillar food plant though). Red Admiral? The caterpillars don’t pull the leaves together with webs. (We didn’t do a controlled experiment but Glenn claims the caterpillars didn’t sting when he squashed one. If memory serves, Mourning Cloaks do sting...?) Any guesses? Should I be delighted?
Notice the great job the hairs (trichomes) on the stem are doing in keeping the caterpillar from reaching the stem. While I’m sure the plant doesn’t like its leaves eaten, that at least is not terminal; a damaged stem though means death for that part of the plant above the damage.
Tuesday: 14 June 2005
I did get a picture of a rather bedraggled cranefly, probably Tipula spp. Poor old thing only has four legs, and got trapped in the house during the night.
There are thousands of species of craneflies, and the two above are not only in different genera, but different families. Tipula adults eat nothing, according to my Audubon guide; although this is certainly possible as with many insects whose adult lives are insignificant compared to their long, eventful childhoods, I’ve yet to confirm it. I’m skeptical since Tipula adults are supposed to fertilize cranefly orchid, Tipularia discolor, and I don’t know what the motivation would be if they didn’t feed somewhat.
Craneflies are extremely important ecologically. The adults especially constitute a major food source for many birds and bats. As indicated here, they’re also important indicator species for water and wetland quality. Conservation of wetland sites means lots of craneflies, which means a greater abundance of birds and bats of many species.
Here’s a little guy I found wandering around on the deck railing. He’s got a roach-like appearance, and like a little kid in second grade I thought it would be fun to squick thingfish23. But it’s probably a pine borer of some kind, possibly sculptured pine borer, Chalcophora virginiensis. Nice ornamentation on his back! If so, then it’s in the family of metallic woodborers, or jewel beetle family, Buprestidae. According to this site the larvae are the borers, and at least for this species doesn’t cause much damage to the conifers they bore into. BugGuide has some info on it too.
Monday: 13 June 2005
I was saddened by the announcement of Bancroft’s death a few days ago, and I’ve let it settle on me awhile before thinking I should say something. It does happen, though, and it is comforting to know how many wonderful movies we know her by. Through Biomes Blog we have Roger Ebert encapsulating his memories of her. He links us to The New York Times memories of her career. Both sites concentrate on those movies we know her best though - “The Graduate”, of course, with its many icons, including the nylon stocking image; Her Academy Award winning “The Miracle Worker”; and her role including the famous cross-eyed scene (I can do that, and so could my sister, at least until her surgery) in her husband Mel Brooks' movie, “Silent Movie”.
There are several other movies that I remember her by even more. In one of my favorites, “Torch Song Trilogy”, she’s simply Harvey Fierstein’s “Ma”, who is having a bit of difficulty coming to terms with her son. And as Emma Jacklin in "The Turning Point", she plays an older ballerina who must come to terms with her decision to continue her career as a dancer. The confrontation with her former colleague DeeDee, played by Shirley MacLaine, who decided to forego the career and become a wife and mother, and the slapfest between the two is memorable. And then there’s another unnoticed movie, the slightly too cute "Used People", without Anne Bancroft but with a marvelous pastiche of Mrs. Robinson by Marcia Gay Harden, where oddly Harden’s mother is played by Shirley MacLaine.
You can go through Google images and find tons of pics of Anne Bancroft. Unfortunately attribution at this level of internetese is impossible, but I’ll be glad to attribute if notified. Here’s four that strike me as evocative. The first, and I just don’t know but I assume it’s her husband of 40 years, Mel Brooks, just strikes me as someone who’s having fun: love the pink living playtex gloves . The second obviously connected with “The Graduate” wasn’t part of the movie, but the sharp contrast in black and white between the two main actors just gives me the shivers. I just like the last two. What a magnificent woman.
Penstemon, or beardtongues, is a genus of about 247 species (according to USDA Plants) in the snapdragon family Scrophulariaceae. (There is a move afoot to break the Scrophulariaceae up, in which case Penstemons would go into the Plantaginaceae, or plantain, family.) In our Southeastern US area, we only have ten or so species of beardtongues; the vast majority are native to the western and northwestern states (so the Dharma Bums would be able to present a huge variety of beardtongues to us!).
Let’s try a new inflorescence, and I’ve added this to the previous post on inflorescences. The inflorescence of beardtongues is a type of panicle called a thyrse. A thyrse, pronounced like “thirst” without the “t”, is an inflorescence whose main stem is a raceme, with secondary inflorescences that are cymes. So not only can you compound basic pure inflorescences (racemes to panicles) but you can also mix up various pure inflorescences to make a new one.
The name “penstemon” means five stamens, and parts are in fives. Five petals fuse to form the usual snapdragon-like funnel-shaped flower with two upper “lip petals” and three lower “lip petals”. The genus’s signature feature is the fifth stamen, which is sterile and modified with many hairs, and often of a different color than the other four stamens which are fertile, with anthers. The hairy stamen, fused to the lower petals, is what gives the genus the name “beardtongue”.
Here’s a good beardtongue stamen, unfortunately the photo was taken at the end of the day and the flower was senescing so it’s not as pretty as it was. This one is P. hirsutus, hairy beardtongue, one of our few. Look at them thyrses!
Another P. smallii or Small’s beardtongue, is a more intense purple, even the leaves have a purple highlights. It grows in the three or four states surrounding and including Georgia:
And by the way, Tom Kimmerer tells us that the Small of smallii is John Kunkel Small ( 1869-1938 ) who was the first curator of the New York Botanical Garden. He was one of the first botanists to explore the flora of Florida, presumably before many of its now-numerous invasive species had established themselves. Many of our species in the southeast have the specific epithet smallii .
Penstemons hybridize freely, and a lot of work is going on trying to tease out relationships between plants, see for example Andrea Wolfe’s work on this, if only to get an idea of what DNA comparisons can tell you about relationships.
Penstemons are also quite a neat example of floral modifications - the corolla, or fused petals, being a great example, and the fifth stamen modified to form the beardtongue being another. Stamens are often modified to form weird and wonderful flower parts. Roses, for example, have five petals, but cultivated roses have been selected for many many petals. Where did they come from? They come from stamens, of which roses have a great many, and selection has resulted in petaloid stamens, that is, stamens that now resemble petals.
Andrea Wolfe also presents us with a good Penstemon Website. Beardtongues like it sunny and dry. They don’t want to be mulched.
Sunday: 12 June 2005
We’ve been cataloging the vacciniums that we’ve found on the property; so far we have four species. Vacciniums are the genus Vaccinium and include Blueberries. They’re in the large family Ericaceae, which most famously includes Azaleas and Rhododendrons, but also the parasitic plants Indian Pipes and much, much more.
Yesterday Glenn did a marathon of keying out of the specimens I brought back. Here’s one, and our favorite, Vaccinium arboreum, sparkleberry! (More frequently called “farkleberry”, but who wants to name their little seed company “Farkleberry Farms”?
The specific epithet arboreum means “like a tree”, and indeed sparkleberry grows in large colonies as tall shrubs. The specific epithet here is informative! Unfortunately, as lovely as the common name is, the berries aren’t really edible. But the plant is elegant.
We were delighted to know that we also have V. stamineum, Deerberry, Squaw Huckleberry, or Buckberry. Stamineum refers to the exposed stamens during flowering, and is an important piece of information!
UPDATE: Damn. We thought we had V. stamineum but we actually have V. simulatum, Upland Highbush Blueberry. Nonetheless we’re delighted!
We also found we have V. corymbosum, or Highbush Blueberry. Again, corymbosum is informative and refers to the inflorescence. This species has contributed its genes to many of the cultivated blueberries.
Finally we have V. elliottii or Elliott’s Blueberry. The authority here is Mr. Chapman who named it after Mr. Elliott, who might have been someone who just brought the plant in to be identified. This species has also contributed to cultivated blueberries, and I can tell you that the wild berries are very nice. However Glenn slaved over the key for hours trying to figure it out. What distinguishes this species from all its relatives is that it has serrated leaves. If only the specific epithet had been serratum, or dentatum, he would have immediately known what it might be.
I think I’ll end my campaign against vanity tags now, having made my somewhat tongue-in-cheek point. Vanity tags are not necessarily uninformative, and here we get back to the slime mold beetles. Can you think of better names for them than Messers Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld?
Saturday: 11 June 2005
American ginseng is Panax quinquefolius, and is found in the eastern US as far south as south Georgia and north into Canada. A related species, dwarf ginseng, Panax trifolius, has a similar range. Panax ginseng is Chinese (or Korean, or Indian, or Asian) ginseng, and is not native to the US. As you can tell from the specific epithet quinquefolius, American ginseng leaves have five compound leaflets in a palmate arrangement, like the fingers of your hand around the palm. (Note that the leaf with its leaflets resembles Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia (there’s that “quinquefolia” again!); in fact, there’s a little bit of that on the right side of the left-hand pic; but the differences are obvious. Even if not, well, V. Creeper is a vine and ginseng is not.)
The flowers (above) are in an umbel inflorescence, where all the florets emerge from a single point (remember inflorescences)? The seeds they produce are difficult to germinate, requiring many months of cold stratification and probably cyclic warm and cold treatments as well. Since they take so long to germinate they’re particularly susceptible to predation by seed-eating animals; most seeds probably die in the wild without producing plants.
From USDA Plants Database, a map of Georgia shows that ginseng populations do occur in our area - I’ve added pointers to the counties surrounding the observed population(s) in Oconee County to our south. Unfortunately Oconee County, a bedroom community for Athens, is under great stress for development. Our county, Oglethorpe, seems destined to go the same way, a prospect that many residents savor without realizing that the inevitably higher taxes are just going to squeeze many of them out. (And by the way, I’ve included the three major ecological regions that mark Georgia - the mountain region, the piedmont where we live, and the coastal plain that marks much of the southeast within a couple hundred miles of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Georgia truly has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to habitats.)
Panax is in the ginseng family, Araliaceae, which includes a number of genera with plants common to the US. Hedera, or ivy, includes a native species (Canada ivy) and the the horrible, noxious non-native species Hedera helix, English ivy, planted as a groundcover by lazy gardeners. The Araliaceae also includes the genus Aralia, which is represented by such natives as Hercules club or Devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa), Wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis, and American spikenard (Aralia racemosa), all desirable species.
There’s no need to go into ginseng’s medicinal value here, except in terms of the ecological impact of 250 years of irresponsible harvesting of plants. You can find more than you want to know and this article and this one are good starters. It’s the root which is collected, thus killing the plant, and it takes many many years for a plant to produce a suitable root for grinding up into a medicinal form. Thus populations of ginseng are going the way of tigers, elephants, and other organisms that are harvested for medicinal purposes, many questionable, to the point of extinction.
In the Feb 11 2005 issue of Science (Science 307, 920 (2005)), a report appeared by James McGraw at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and Mary Ann Furedi that has alarming implications for naturally occurring populations of American ginseng. A summary on p827 of that issue by Erik Stokstad details the main points of their study.
The authors observed in detail seven populations over five years and discovered that the populations were disappearing. Their conclusion was that a population must have at least 800 plants to have a 95% chance of survival for 100 years. They then examined 36 populations across seven states, and discovered that the largest population among these 36 had only 406 plants; the median size was 93 plants. The culprit? Besides human harvesting, deer browsing. According to Stokstad:
“With few natural predators left, deer are running rampant across much of eastern North America and Europe. In addition to damaging crops, raising the risk of Lyme disease, and smashing into cars, white-tailed deer are eating their way through forests. ”This is a widespread conservation problem," says Lee Frelich of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Indeed, on page 920, a detailed, 5-year forest survey of ginseng reveals that deer, if not checked, will almost certainly drive the economically valuable medicinal plant to extinction in the wild....."
“Ginseng is one of the most widely harvested medicinal plants in the United States; in 2003, 34,084 kilograms were exported, mainly to Asia, where wild ginseng root fetches a premium. Although the plant (Panax quinquefolius) ranges from Georgia to Quebec, it is slow-growing and scarce everywhere.....”
and “McGraw and Furedi calculate that browsing rates must be cut in half to guarantee a 95% chance of survival for any of the 36 ginseng populations they surveyed. That has direct management implications, says Donald Waller of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. ”We should be encouraging the recovery of large predators like wolves. It also suggests we should be increasing the effectiveness of human hunting" by emphasizing the killing of does rather than bucks, he adds. Such deer-control measures are controversial: Reintroduction of predators like wolves faces logistical as well as political hurdles, for example. Meanwhile, the deer keep munching.".
I’m glad then, that our planted and protected population seems to be adjusting, although it may not thrive in the long term. Unfortunately it is not a “natural” population, although it derives from a natural population relatively close by. I have to consider re-evaluating my previous opinion of the coyote populations that seem to have invaded our area. Although deer are a little large for coyotes, they will predate on them occasionally. We’ve killed off the wolves in this area, and the bobcats that live around here are probably not very good deer predators. It may be that coyotes will serve to help rein in the deer, at least to some extent. As Donald Waller says above, it really would help if deer management through hunting underwent some strategic changes too.
Thursday: 9 June 2005
You might have read Brian’s great post on the softshell turtle he played with (load the whole page and scroll down for all the pics). Where’s your genius when you need him to tell you how to put a snapper in your lap and take him two miles to the river?
Everything I see with one exception corresponds to brownish-gray fishing spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus, one of the nursery-web family Pisauridae. Look at those two nice rows of eyes - don’t you wish you had that many? They glisten so, and the top row is in a U-shape which is correct for this family. If she (for surely she must be, given her size) were one of the Lycosidae, the wolf spiders, she’d have three rows of eyes (admittedly I’m not sure what constitutes a “row” except this looks like two to me).
At any rate she’s huge, 1.5" body length from the tip of her nose to the tip of her abdomen and has a 4.5" legspan, and the size itself is pretty telling. As a fishing spider, if she is, she would like tadpoles, small fish, and water insects, and if disturbed can dive for half an hour. But fishing spiders are also often found long distances from water (she was about 10 feet from the Hyla Pond).
The only problem with my tentative id is that the Audubon Guide to North American Insects and Spiders gives the range from Virginia north, so if correct this species is well south of the given range. Anyone got any better ideas about what she might be, do tell.
Wednesday: 8 June 2005
As it turns out this is a root, but not of ginseng. It’s a smilax root. I’d heard they go all the way to China, but this is even better. This one is about a foot long, the body part, weighs a couple of pounds, and is covered with tiny prickles. I’ve been told they’re used to make briar pipes.
They come in a remarkable variety of incredible shapes. I tried doing some sanding and carving on one; it seems like it should be possible but there is no particular grain to it.
Anyway, if you’ve got a good-sized smilax vine, dig down. You’ll find something like this.
Tuesday: 7 June 2005
Glenn and I were talking this evening about the efforts academics make toward trying to combat nonscientific pseudoreligious attacks such as intelligent design. Should academics compromise principle and engage in debate with ID'ers? How much cardiovascular effort must they put forth to speak the obvious, over and over and over, primarily to wingers who operate under no good faith effort at all? Then something occurred to us. It was, you know, a Manifestation of the Miracle of Capitalism, and although I’m framing it in a narrow aspect, scientific endeavor, it seems to me that it goes way beyond this. (How far beyond this? Think Blue States subsidizing Red States. Ok.)
You might be familiar with the indefatigueable efforts of PZ Myers, among those who put forth argument after perfect argument, over, and over again, against those who, charitably, don’t seem to understand science. PZ Myers isn’t the only one of course, there are multitudes. Oddly though among the knights there seem to be no corporate fascists, those who actually benefit monetarily.
If you’re a researcher (and especially if you have a $grant$), then you know that your grant moneys go to overhead, salaries, and equipment and supplies, by and large. You gotta take care of your people, and that’s what the salaries are for. But it’s that last, equipment and supplies, that’s of interest here. Once you’ve got that golden bough, you undoubtedly have dozens of company reps interrupting your day and knocking down your doors demanding to share in the wealth. They want to tell you what their latest technological advance over the gel rig you bought last week is. They want to convince you that you should favor them over their nearest competitor. You wouldn’t believe how tiring this can be. “Click click click”, oh there go the high heels or the guccis coming down the hall. Run for cover. Oh yes, they want the bucks, they just don’t want to share in the fight.
I’m not particularly interested in whether a particular company is farmed out overseas, or whether it’s a good ol' US of A company; nor is it an issue here as to whether it’s evil (I’m perfectly willing to admit some of them are, and pleased to snark about that). I want to see these companies sweat for their science, just like their hosts do.
Here’s a few that we’ve had associated with us. I’ve augmented the list by pulling more straight out of Science magazine.
New England Nuclear
New England Biolabs
Have I left anyone out? Any of these Miracles care to rebut? If any of these companies goes out on the limb to persuade the public, I’ll be more than happy to applaud them; just let me know. I’ve just never heard of it.
Each and every one of these companies relies on hiring competent biology-oriented students out of college. Not only that but each one relies for their $ on scientifically rigorous principle investigators. You can be sure they aren’t breaking down the doors of the so-called intelligent designers. Why the HELL, then, aren’t they in the forefront fighting against pseudoscience? Every penny of their money comes from scientists.
So here’s my suggestion, you scientists, you. Let the Miracle of Capitalism hold sway. If you have a $grant$, and if the company reps are beating at your door, ask them. Ask them what THEY’RE doing: are they attending debates, are they answering the public, are they counteracting the luddites? And if they can’t give a good answer, WHY give them your business? You are the moneybags. Idiots.
This year I planted six heirloom varieties, about 12 plants of each in a single row. To some extent my choices were random, except that I concentrated on southern preferences if stated, and tried to get a range of harvest timings. So (according to my information) the Norgold M’s are early harvest and like it hot; Rose Golds and White Roses are mid-season harvests, and the All-blues and Yellow Finns are late harvest.
Here’s the group pic 2 months old, with the third topping of mulch. The plants are about 2 feet tall (except for the Rose Golds) and the mulch mounds are about 18" tall.
From left to right we have White Rose, Norgolds, Yellow Finns, All-Blues (for fun), Rose Golds, and Russian Bananas.
The last two rows, Rose Gold and Russian Banana, are particularly suceptible to flea beetles; none of the other varieties are having any problem. Flea beetles are just what you’d expect, tiny jumping things that eat holes in the leaves (lower pics). Oddly, while the Rose Golds are way smaller and somewhat chlorotic, the Russian Bananas are not particularly affected by the onslaught of flea beetles; they’re doing fine.
Above shows the flea beetle damage and a healthy leaf from an All-Blue. The rightmost pic is of two little dudes who were showing more interest in each other than in the potatoes. They’re beetles, but not flea beetles - much too large for that and they don’t hop.
I haven’t done any spraying and don’t intend to (although I think it was Rexroth’s Daughter who mentioned a vinegar and dishsoap mix?). Part of this is an experiment to see which varieties grow best in our hot humid Georgia climate and relatively compact clay soil. So far I’ve been pleased to find little in the way of insect pests aside from the flea beetles themselves; the garden has a healthy abundance of a great many insects and I don’t want to disturb that too much. Apparently though there’s little in the way of information on flea beetle predators.
Here’s an easy recipe:
Slice 6-8 potatoes into fairly thin lengths. Microwave in a covered bowl until hot and partly cooked (2 x 3-4 minutes, shaking in between). Remove excess expressed water; maybe even blot with a paper towel. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, pepper, salt, whatever else you like, and shake until coated, then dump onto a cookie sheet and spread out. Bake 400 deg for 20 min; turn potatoes; bake another 10-20 min until satisfactorily browned.
An alternative to this recipe is to add diced ham, or whatever you like, place the coated potatoes in a casserole dish, and bake covered 375 for 30 minutes, then remove the lid to the dish and bake another 15 minutes. Lots of variation on this one, and times and temps may vary.
I love potatoes.
Monday: 6 June 2005
Number of books I own:
Somewhere around 2000. After years of stacking them and boxing them, we built a room for them, along with shelves for them to stand on. My short shameless confession is that I’m a science fiction lover and I’ve been collecting since I was 15 and able to spend money.
Last book I bought (Well, that would be books bought; I can’t buy just one):
Last book I read (for the first time):
Annie Dillard: “Three by Annie Dillard” ("Pilgrim at Tinker Creek", “An American Childhood”, "The Writing Life".)
Oops - a mutation: Comfort Reading (I read a lot of books over and over. When I was sick in April and didn’t want to put forth the effort, I reread a number of books):
Five books that mean a lot to me (How do I choose? And in what manner do they mean something to me? Oh well, here’s a somewhat representative sample covering several reasons.)
Ursula K. Leguin’s “The Dispossessed”, or
Gregory Benford’s “Timescape”.
(Can’t make up my mind, but each of these climaxed to a point that affected me emotionally and deeply. Note that Carl Sagan’s book and the movie differ in too many significant points. Surely CS was spinning in his grave at the movie’s dedication: “For Carl”.)
As I said, this meme has diminished reproductive capability, but the lucky new recipients are:
Thingfish23 at The Taming of the Band-Aid
Mark at The Biomes Blog
Henry’s Webiocosm Blog
Tom at Tree Trends
They are free to further inflict the meme, kill the meme, or let the meme die of starvation.
Sunday: 5 June 2005
Here’s a short tutorial, with My Own Drawings, to run through some of the major types of inflorescences. There are a lot more subtypes, but these are the common ones you run into in field guides.
A floral meristem can be indeterminate, in which case it keeps on going “forever”, or it can be determinate, in which case it stops producing florets at some point. The easiest kind of inflorescence is the one that is completely determinate and produces only one flower. This is a solitary flower, not really an inflorescence at all.
Spikes, racemes, panicles, and corymbs are all kind of related. The floral meristem grows upward and as it does it throws off florets. If the floret just sits on the peduncle without its own stem, it’s sessile and it’s called a spike. If the floret is attached to the peduncle with its own stem, the pedicel, it’s called a raceme.
A compound raceme is called a panicle. Here the floral meristem doesn’t just make a floret, it starts new floral branches all along the main peduncle and each of those branches makes florets. This compounding can occur at higher levels as well.
Foxgloves are good examples of spikes.
Snapdragons form racemes.
Many grasses form panicles, especially those in the genus Panicum.
A corymb also grows upward, but each new floret grows at a different rate so the pedicels are of different lengths; the oldest on the bottom of the peduncle have the longest pedicels and the youngest at the top have the shortest, so you get a flat-topped inflorescence.
If the florets are stemless and sit on a massive receptacle, the inflorescence is called a head.
Many plants in the Asteraceae make corymbs.
Many others go whole hog and produce a head, like asters and sunflowers.
In the umbel, the floral meristem splits into many floral branches simultaneously and produces a floret at each tip, all of the same age. This also produces a flat-topped cluster, like the corymb did, but the floral branches all come from the same point in an umbel. Umbels, like racemes, can be compounded to make a much larger, denser cluster.
The plants in the carrot family, Apiaceae, make umbels. Queen Anne’s Lace is a good example. This is how the family got its older name, Umbelliferae.
In all the above, the florets are formed as the floral meristem grows upward, and the oldest ones are at the bottom, the youngest at the top. The inflorescence opens bottom to top.
The cyme inflorescence reverses this development. The first florets to open are at the top, and the last are at the bottom. The inflorescence opens top to bottom. If all the florets are on the same side of the peduncle, it’s called a helicoid cyme. If the florets are on opposite sides it’s a scorpioid cyme. Often the inflorescence has a coiled aspect to it. Many of the architectural possibilities in the examples above are possible with cymes, so there are a lot of subtypes. You might run across the term cymose corymb, for example. It’s just a corymb that opens top to bottom instead of bottom to top.
Plants in the borage family, Boraginaceae, make scorpioid cymes.
As I look at my daisy fleabanes, they clearly make a cyme of some sort - the center (top) floret opens first, with the surrounding ones opening later.
Finally (well, certainly not finally, but maybe close), not only can you compound basic pure inflorescences, like racemes or umbels, to make compound racemes, i.e., panicles, and compound umbels, you can also combine basic inflorescences. Here’s a thyrse. The main inflorescence stem is a raceme, and is indeterminate (keeps on going). But the individual secondary inflorescences are determinate and cymose! This is a cymose panicle, or a thyrse, pronounced like “thirst” without the “t”. I presume the direction of opening of the secondary inflorescences along the raceme is from bottom to top, but direction of opening of the cymes is top to bottom!
Beardtongues (Penstemon spp.) are thyrses.
Friday: 3 June 2005
The genus Castilleja was originally in the Scrophulariaceae, the snapdragon family, but has now been placed in the Orobanchaceae, a related family that has a lot of parasitic and hemiparasitic plants (see Botanical Electronic News for a discussion of this.
Indian Paintbrushes are interesting because they’re hemiparasites. They do best when growing in association with grasses, because they steal food from them via their penetrating roots in addition to doing their own photosynthesis (hence the name “hemi”).
I sort of misspoke, or miswrote. If you look at the above photo you can see that it isn’t really one flower, it’s many flowers. In addition the brilliant red parts are not petals, they’re bracts - the actual flower nestled within each red bract is fairly insignificant. You can see the little pistils poking out.
You should also be able to tell that these flowers are in various stages of development, just from the size of the bracts. Toward the outside (and since we’re viewing the inflorescence from the top, the “outside” is really the bottom of the cluster) the bracts are larger and the flowers more developed. Toward the “inside”, i.e., the top, the bracts are tiny and crowded and the flowers are much less developed.
Below left is the same image where I’ve traced the development from oldest to youngest. It’s a geometry that spirals upward. Below right is a simple diagram that shows what is happening.
The diagram shows a series of three stems from the side, youngest on the left and oldest on the right. The circle at the top of each stem represents the apical meristem, always found at the tip of the stem. This is the cluster of rapidly dividing cells that throws off new plant parts. In the leftmost youngest stem the apical meristem is “vegetative” in nature - it throws off leaves and vegetative branches. In the next two stage, the vegetative meristem has received a signal and has turned into a floral meristem. From now on, as the stem grows upward, the floral meristem will throw off not leaves and branches, but flowers. Since the first flowers thrown off are the oldest, they’re found at the bottom; the ones at the top are the youngest and all crowded together. The timing is such that the flowers are thrown off in a spiral arrangement. Neat!
A huge amount is known about flowering, but it’s still mainly descriptive. We know what the plant does, but not how. We know a lot about the mechanics, the genetics, and the genes involved in making a flower. Elliott Meyerowitz has taught us a lot about the genes involved in making sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels with a model called the ABC model. See this page for a neat description of the model. However we know a lot less about how those genes are turned on.
For years a signal called florigen has been hypothesized that is responsible for converting the vegetative meristem into a floral meristem. We know that this signal is induced by all kinds of things - vernalization, light-dark cycles, and so forth. We know how fast it moves through the plant, and we know it moves through the phloem. We know that gibberellins and a metastable protein called phytochrome are involved. Here’s a good description of the characters in this play. But as far as I know no one has yet isolated florigen.
Thursday: 2 June 2005
I was a little disappointed to discover I wasn’t “The Sociopath”, but “Spiteful Loner” is second best for sure. I’m especially pleased to discover that my opposite is “The Televangelist”.
Here’s my prediction: Glenn will turn out to be “The Robot”. (Yes, I was right. Beware of short circuits.)
(BTW, regarding the image of The Spiteful Loner below: my sister took a picture of me and my nephew sitting side by side at the graduation ceremonies last Saturday. We were each immersed in a book.)
OK, now for more honesty than I was allotted, but all the brutality:
| Spiteful Loner |
You are 71% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 57% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.
| You are the Spiteful Loner, the personality type that is most likely to go on a shooting rampage. You are a rational person and tend to hold emotions in very low-esteem; not only that, but you are also rather introverted, meaning you probably bury any emotions you feel deep inside yourself. Combine these traits with your hatred of others and your brutality, and it seems that you would be quite likely to shoot innocent people in a rampage. Not only that, but you are also a very humble person–not a braggart at all–meaning you could possibly have low-self esteem. This is only yet one more incentive to go on a shooting rampage, because you wouldn’t care if you died as a result. Granted, you probably haven’t gone on a shooting rampage and probably never will, but all the motivations are there. In conclusion, your personality is defective because you are too introverted, brutal, insecure, and rather unemotional. No wonder no one hangs around you, you morbid, cold-hearted freak! |
1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.
2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.
3. You are more BRUTAL than gentle.
4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.
The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.
The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.
The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.
The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on Ok Cupid|
Occasionally I view my and other websites with AOL’s incestuously bundled Internet Explorer. Whether it’s because of the version I have, or AOL’s apparent lack of conformity to the standards enjoyed by 99% of the rest of the internets, or because of the laptop I’m currently using, well whatever it is, MY site looks like crap. The sidebar overlaps the text and renders the last 10% unreadable, for no good reason since the sidebar is empty space for at least 50% of its width.
Anyway, here’s a clue. If you’re on AOL, and if you use the bundled Internet Explorer and if my site looks like crap and IF you MUST use the dysfunctional Internet Explorer, at least download it and use it separately from AOL. My real recommendation is to download the Mozilla browser (yes, I know about Firefox - for whatever reason it is much slower and less stable than Mozilla, possibly because of the interaction with AOL) and use it separately from AOL. DO NOT download Netscape and use it. Incredibly slow, especially for those of us still on modem.
If you’re not technically inclined, don’t be scared. Go to the mozilla website and pick your operating system. Download it. Go to the file and click on it to install it. Then when you sign in to AOL just go to your desktop and click on Mozilla to open it in a new window. You’ll thank me for it.
Bookmarks? Internet Explorer still hasn’t heard of them, I guess they call them “favorites” or some such, but if you’re using Netscape and want a better browser, Mozilla lets you import your old bookmarks from the old browser.
Great Crested Flycatchers: Momma and Daddy are much more reclusive now, and one or the other stays in the box a lot now. Reclusive or not they still peal out before entering the hole. Everything occurs in two week intervals - building the nest, laying and incubating, and fledgling development - I figure they’re halfway through incubating right now. Only one clutch a year - I wonder if they’ll stay or meander down to visit Brian before returning to South America?
New Blogs: Well, they’re not necessarily new, but new to me and sorry it’s taken me too long to get them onto the sidebar. I hope I didn’t miss anyone; if you think I did, then I probably meant to have you here. Castigate me in the comments with an intro if I missed you and we’ll take care of it. If I haven’t found you yet, gimme a comment and I will!
And now for the retrospective additions. Understand I’m not just adding any old blog here - you’ll recall that my REAL computer is sick, and I didn’t have all my more recent blog interests memorized, so as those purveyors come to light, well, here they go!
And of course there’s the old “must visit on a daily basis”:
Get your daily fix of odd observations from Mark at The Biomes Blog.
At Rurality near Birmingham, Alabama, things happen cocurrently with Athens, as do events in eastern North Carolina at Swamp Things. Get a load of the cutest little beetle you’ll ever see there.
One of my first blog buddies, Brian in Southwest Florida at The Taming of the Band-Aid is a bug freak and loves to identify little brown moths for you.
From Don’s Iowa Garden we get an enormous variety of a plant collection that never ends (except during late freezes).
Rexroth’s Daughter and Dread Pirate Roberts in the rainshadow in Washington State at Dharma Bums have a number of articles on their efforts to conserve water. They are a fresh breeze in an insane world, as is Philalethes at Bouphonia; the writing from both these blogs is incomparable.
Great pics and stories about current events in the real world, the one where we all see trilliums coming up, blue toadflax flowering, and jack in the pulpits. Not to mention particular species of frogs calling, snakes cruising, and lepidopterans emerging. We get our gardens together, more or less, and worry about the ravening deer. Many of us shudder at the insane humanocentric world around us, and I for one feel better knowing there are more like me out there.
Wednesday: 1 June 2005
Remember that the order of taxa goes Kingdom (most inclusive), Class, Order, Family, (sometimes Tribe), Genus, and Species (least inclusive). Flowering plants are in the Phylum Anthophyta. (Eu)Dicots are in the Class Dicotyledonae and Monocots are in the Class Monocotyledonae (and then there are a few oddities that are neither, sometimes called paleoherbs). Soybeans are in the family Fabaceae, and the soybean is the species Glycine max where “Glycine” is the genus and “max” is the
ALWAYS capitalize the genus name; NEVER capitalize the species name, even when it’s a proper name. And while we’re at it, Glenn requests that if you ever name a plant, DON’T make its species name after some person. Latin names are supposed to be informative, hence Gossypium hirsutum, cultivated cotton, is hairy, and the species name “hirsutum” tells us this ("hirsute" - get it?). Names like Acacia smallii, Smilax smallii, Sanicula smallii, Penstemon smallii, Cooperia smallii, Listera smallii, Zephyranthes smallii, and so forth aren’t named because they’re “small” (the latin for that is parvus, or minimus), no, they’re named by some misguided discoverer, perhaps Mr or Ms Small him- or herself, who is honoring Mr or Ms Small. Unfortunately we’ve lost the opportunity to get any information out of this part of the name. Anyway, our peeves.
To start: I see two major sources for name changes. First, there was a historical family name change. This is where names like Compositae (the sunflower family) was changed to Asteraceae. Part of the reason for this is consistency - all plant families are now required to end in -aceae, which Leguminae (the legumes, now Fabaceae), Umbelliferae (the carrot family, now Apiaceae), Labiatae (the mints, now Lamiaceae), Cruciferae (the mustard family, now Brassicaceae), Gramineae (the grasses, now Poaceae), Palmae (the palms, now Arecaceae), and Compositae did not.
But it was also determined that all plant families had to have a type genus, meaning a representative genus within the family that was typical of the family, AND the genus name and family name had to have the same stem. There is no Composita genus in the Compositae, but there is the genus Aster, which is typical, hence the family name change to Asteraceae. There is no Crucifera genus in the Cruciferae, but Brassicaceae is acceptable because there is a type genus called Brassica. (And btw, each genus must also have its type species.)
That’s one big change in names, the historical one at the family level. The old names were used for so long that they haven’t just been cast away but are considered synonyms and still valid and you will still see them used.
The second major source for name changes is new information, especially the information that comes from DNA evidence. Ideas and understandings about relationships between organisms are always changing, and especially in these times we’re learning so many new things about these relationships that names are changing rapidly.
Take the Asters, for example. Many many plants native to North America are placed in the genus Aster along with many many related plants in the Old World. But DNA evidence tells us that all the “asters” in the Old World form a monophyletic group, significantly less related to the New World “asters”, which themselves are all in a single monophyletic group. So the name change here is to keep all the Old World asters in the genus Aster and to divide the New World asters into a dozen or so new genera with tongue twisters like Symphyotrichum, Oclemena, Oligodendron, Eurybia, and so forth. This splitting is considered valid since the DNA differences between member species of the Old World Asters are about the same as those between member species of each of the newly proposed genera in the New World.
For definitions of cladistics terms like monophyletic see these bare definitions, or this site for some pics and a more involved discussion.
The Asters are a great case study for this kind of name change - see John Semple’s website for information on this and a picture of the new family tree and a discussion of why it should be this way.
I used the jargon splitting above. This refers to splitting and lumping. It’s far more prestigious to name a new species than it is to recognize a plant as a subspecies of a current one, and there’s always this tendency for a botanist to split in this manner. People who take several species and demote them as several subspecies in a single species are called lumpers. Earlier I wrote about jack in the pulpit. That’s an example where a half-dozen or so species have now been lumped into a single species with four or five subspecies. Apparently the differences between them just aren’t great enough to warrant splitting, so they’ve been lumped, and you now have a new name change.
Fortunately any newly revised botanical reference will have both the old and new names, and the USDA Plants website uses new names but retains the old names in its search routine. I highly recommend it for typing in any genus, full scientific name, or common name to find out information about the current and old names for a plant.
Finally a lot of the recommendations at higher taxonomic levels are being made by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Glenn wrote about this earlier on this website, and has his interpretation of a complete family tree of flowering plants families for download as a pdf file.