June 4, 2014

Plant ID, Taproot Style

 Taproot cover illustration by Geninne Zlatkis
Do you know taproot? I adore this quarterly magazine. This season's issue, seed, arrived just as I finished a month long workshop. I'll tell you about the workshop in a future post, but suffice it say that diving into taproot provided a welcome break from a week of intense writing and editing efforts.
When the dauntingly huge, and seemingly Sisyphean, task of eliminating the invasive honeysuckle on our property discourages me (which is more often than I'd like), I've been reminding myself that we are the stewards of this land. Removing the honeysuckle is the best thing we can do to preserve and maintain our little pocket of forest, one of the only dense stands of trees among miles and miles of corn and soy.

This notion of stewardship is shared by Amy Rice. Her article, Recognition of Stewardship: A Print Project for a Lifetime, struck a chord with me - two chords, actually. She has "decided to identify and document in print art every species of plant" on their 23 acres of land. Yes! I may have no knowledge of plants, but I do only have 2 acres. Surely I can identify all our plants, too. I have yet to decide if I will make prints (I do love block printing), but as you know I have been collecting photos.
This cluster of tiny violet buds recently burst forth to reveal wild phlox (Phlox divaricata), pictured below. The phlox has now all but lost it's blooms, the last ones holding on are probably being cast to the ground by the monsoon-like downpour of rain that is currently making the gutters overflow.
These leaves whose structure I love? Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). In just two weeks this bunch has grown from ankle high to about 7 feet tall, complete with a nimbus of white flower clusters. Now that I know what it looks like, I am confident that the wild carrots I foraged a couple years ago, the ones I was too scared to eat lest they be poison hemlock, were indeed wild carrots.
This one I'm still trying to identify. The buds have bloomed into clusters of small, white flowers. Several clusters to a stem. I thought maybe it was first year poison hemlock, but the leaves aren't the right shape. Could be wild yarrow, but again, yarrow has more feather-like leaves. Any ideas?
The crisis of fluorescence has been averted (see the previous post). I picked Behr Wasabi green to cover to the garish green. And then almost changed my mind at the store. Under the paint department lights the sample looked even more khaki than pictured above. I walked outside to double check the color in daylight, but still wasn't convinced. With great effort, I suspended my disbelief and asked for a gallon of Wasabi. And see? This is what it looks like on the walls. Not khaki at all. More like celery soup. It's perfect. Plus, it doesn't fluoresce. Can't ask for more.

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