Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Earth laughs in flowers." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are so many books worth reading that I constantly have a stack on my shelves of those I am going to read next.  It always seems to grow rather than shrink.  Because of this, I rarely read the same book twice.  However, there is a book that I re-read every single spring.  A few years ago I received a wonderful birthday present: the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Noarth American Wildflowers--Western Region.  Each yea,r as the blossoms begin, I pull it out.  It's a bit like reading your high school yearbook before a reunion.  You remember old friends you had forgotten about and see some faces that seem utterly unfamiliar.  Sometimes I  search in the book for a specific flower I saw and want to know better.  This year I've been properly introduced to Sugar Bowl, Woodland-star, and Desert Parsley.
Sugar Bowl
Desert Parsley
Sometimes I sit down with this bright, yellow-covered book at look at every picture.  Any plant that interests me I look up in the back to read more about it--even those far from my region.  Each year I find some other amazing gem of knowledge that I didn't know before.  For example, how else would I know that Indian Paintbrush is partially parasitic?  It grows some of its own roots and also leaches strength off of others' as well.  Here is a short sample of some of the tidbits gleaned from the most recent cover-to-cover read.

Growing up there was a beautiful vine whose blossoms opened in the morning and twisted closed at night.  I called it Morning Glory, but it is actually a nasty invasive called bindweed.
A real Morning Glory--it has tips at outer part of each pinkish ray
Saguaro cacti have fruits which were an important food source for Native Americans.  They used long sticks to knock the fruits off from the top of the cactus.  During the day it is pollinated by White-winged doves and at night by bats and bugs.
White-winged doves enjoying the fruits
You can eat Glacier Lilies!

You should not eat Death Camus.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot roots were used to make medicine by Native Americans.

Blue Flax was used by Native Americans to make rope.

Learning flowers is like learning friends.  And whenever I am out in the woods I am never alone because I know the name of much of what is around me.  To me there is great power in knowing a name.  

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

1 comment:

evieperkins said...

Woodland Star looks like a paper snowflake. Beautiful.