27 January 2014

Berry Go Round #66

Welcome to the 66th edition of Berry Go Round. The previous edition is available over at In the Company of Plants and Rocks.


During this month, I've noticed how a lot of our botanical writings have been about our relationship with plants. Whether we're out hunting for new plants, trying to identify what we see, classifying major groups of plants, deciding their fates, or just enjoying them - plants are a massive part of our lives in many different ways.
Kicking us off this month is Dr Chris Martine, who presents the excellent Plants are cool too series over on YouTube. He writes about the amazing things that we learned about plants during 2013:
A brand new cell part that flavors wine, a flower that depends on "footlong" moth tongues and a list of about 1,000 new species are the stories that topped my list of the most impressive things we learned about plants last year.
Read more over at Chris' article on the Huffington Post: 3 Awesome Things We Learned About Plants in 2013.

Chris also wrote about what happened when his daughter argued with her teacher about the classification of the humble tomato:
You say "tomato" and I say "tomahto." Either way, we're still going to argue about whether it's a fruit or a vegetable -- especially when the issue gets in the craw of my tween daughter.
Chris highlights the often conflicting definitions that we use when trying to classify the often complex natural world. Read more here.


Classifying plants is an ongoing process, as anyone whose noticed age old names of plants being changed by taxonomists will have noticed! Methods of identifying plants are also an ongoing process. Peter Orchard is developing a new identification system for his website and you can be among those to help him improve his system as well as identify plants using his old system:
Back in April 2013 I introduced a new feature to my Nature of Dorset website. It was a ‘top down’ pictorial system that helped casual observers identify anything from mammals to fungi. I admit it is pretty basic and has many flaws but I do get positive feedback about how useful people found have it.
 You can read more of this post here.


As we learn to identify plants, we find that there are some very similar species and it helps to take some time out to understand the differences between them. Rachel Bates at Ecology Escapades has done just that with her blog post about the differences between English Bluebells and Spanish Bluebells:
The Spanish bluebell is largely a garden species, whilst our native English bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta is closely associated with ancient woodland, creating carpets of vibrant colour throughout Spring.

This is an insightful post that uses some lovely illustrations along with clear descriptions of the differences. Read more here.


During our botanising, we find that there are plant species that crowd out others and destroy the delicate ecological balance. Rachel, an ecologist, has also written about invasive plant species:
One of the important things for ecologists to keep an eye out for when carrying out Phase 1 Habitat surveys and ecological appraisals is invasive species, plants in particular.
Read more of this post here.

As with the Spanish Bluebell, many species are introduced by humans. As Garry Rogers notes in his blog post about Invasive Plants in North American Deserts:
Once they began crossing the oceans, Humans introduced thousands of plant species to new regions.  Freed of the diseases and competitors of their homeland, some of the introduced species began spreading into native habitats.
This is a comprehensive article about invasive plants and their management and can be read in full here.


We humans have a long and interesting history with many species of plants; they become part of our culture. These plants gain a special status within populations over generations and some are special to us as individuals. Martin Allen writes about the Small-leaved Lime tree:
Ancient woodlands are more than just interesting plants and animals. They are part of the story of our social history but, like a detective, you need to know what clues to look for.
This is a lovely post, not only about the tree, but also Martin's wonderful experience of learning about the tree with an expert on Lime trees, Donald Pigott. Read this post here.

Jen over at Prickly and Bitter writes some wonderful essays which cover biology and the social history of the particular species under discussion. This time it's Vitis riparia:
The riverbank grape has a bit of a bad rap in Ontario and the northeastern United States, but that perception seems to be changing a bit.
From the riverbank grape's growing habits to its traditional uses, this post comprehensively covers this species and can be read here.


Sometimes it's just as nice to curl up with a good book - although it's rare to find fiction with a botanical twist. Jessica over at Moss, Plants and More has found just that and has been reviewing The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Jessica has put a *Spoiler Alert* on this post, so you have been warned!

We are regaled with the fact that mosses are "effortless to transport". They are not only small and light, but easily dried and thus avoid spoilage.
- See more at: http://mossplants.fieldofscience.com/2014/01/just-tip-of-iceberg-part-3-signature-of.html#sthash.g85YgXbt.dpuf
We are regaled with the fact that mosses are "effortless to transport". They are not only small and light, but easily dried and thus avoid spoilage.

We are regaled with the fact that mosses are "effortless to transport". They are not only small and light, but easily dried and thus avoid spoilage.
- See more at: http://mossplants.fieldofscience.com/2014/01/just-tip-of-iceberg-part-3-signature-of.html#sthash.g85YgXbt.dpuf

We are regaled with the fact that mosses are "effortless to transport". They are not only small and light, but easily dried and thus avoid spoilage.
- See more at: http://mossplants.fieldofscience.com/2014/01/just-tip-of-iceberg-part-3-signature-of.html#sthash.g85YgXbt.dpuf
We are regaled with the fact that mosses are "effortless to transport". They are not only small and light, but easily dried and thus avoid spoilage. - See more at: http://mossplants.fieldofscience.com/2014/01/just-tip-of-iceberg-part-3-signature-of.html#sthash.g85YgXbt.dpuf
Read the rest of this review and some book recommendations here.


We're still in the midst of winter - whether it's been snowing or just perpetually raining - Spring feels like an eon away! Luckily, Amy Campion over at What Blooms When has provided us with a list of 10 plants that flower before the daffodil appears:
Spring may begin in March, around the time the daffodils bloom in the Lower Midwest, but that doesn’t mean the color calendar isn’t already underway before then.  Did you know that even before the daffodils bloom, quite a few plants have already stepped into the spotlight?
Head over to Amy's blog to see the list.

Amy isn't the only one impatient for Spring. We find Hollis from In the Company of Plants and Rocks keeping an eye on Easter daisies each day and providing us with some wonderful photographs and a detailed background: 
Their scientific name is Townsendia, and some people call them that -- townsendias.  The Federal government calls them Townsend daisies (USDA Plants Database).  There are at least 25 species, all native to western North America.
Read more about the Easter daisy over at Hollis' blog.


We're not the only ones to enjoy a pretty flower or two. Dawn Miquel over at Garden Soulutions has spotted a rather surprising January visitor in the form of a honey bee. Dawn has also been using nature to inspire her to embrace change:
When I think of change, the metamorphosis of the butterfly comes to mind. Not only does it change in appearance, everything else changes too.
She provides us with a wonderful photograph of a butterfly on a Delphinium burkei - which is enough to inspire any of us to view change in a positive way.

Next month's BGR will be held at Garry Roger's blog and the theme will be:
Botanical Warfare: The Parasites, Stranglers, Chemists, and Thieves.
More details about the theme, how to submit - and how to host BGR on your blog can be found over at the Berry Go Round website.

Well that's it for #BGR 66! 
Thanks for having me! Any errors are most likely to be mine - so just give me a prod and I'll correct them!

16 comments:

  1. A great collection of posts - looking forward to heading over to their blogs and doing lots of reading!

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    1. They were all fab to read. I hope you enjoy them!

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    1. No problem. Thanks for such an interesting post.

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  3. I would be interested to see what your thoughts are on the book series "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon where the heroine falls back 200 years in time to 18th century Scotland and uses her plant knowledge to make medicines and anesthetics. Of course, there's much more to the story, but I always wonder how accurate it is, and I'm quite botanically ignorant.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your recommendation. My local library has some of the series so I'll try and get the Outlander series into my reading schedule. I've not read any fictional books that use botany, so it would be really interesting to give them a go.

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  4. This is the first time I've visited a blog on plants, and I amazed at how much there is to learn about them. What really interests me is the social and cultural symbolism of plants in our history. Wonderful blog, Tim!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Tarana. I'm really glad you found it interesting. If you're interested in the social history of plants, then the book Flora Britannica would be well worth a look.

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  5. Thanks for including me in your merry go round...I mean berry go round :)

    I'll have to read up on everyone else's blogs mentioned!

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    1. No problem, Jen. It's was great to include your post - the more the merrier/berrier! :)

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  6. Great to see Peter Orchard's 'The Nature of Dorset' website featured. One of the most comprehensive 'amateur' wildlife websites I have seen. Good selection of blogs too!

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    1. Yes, it's a very comprehensive site, I've been having a good look through it during the past month.

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  7. Nice edition! Many thanks!!

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  8. Great introduction to the Carnival attractions Tim. I pinned, tweeted, and scooped your post (see the scoop at: http://scoop.it/t/ecoscifi).
    Thank you.
    Garry

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    1. Thanks Garry, I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to your edition of the carnival at the end of the month.

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