Even with a return to gray, dreary weather and while feeling unwell, I still want to get outside at least a little each day. So, this week I've turned my eye even closer to home by taking short plant walks down my street with the goal of identifying as many species as I can. This is the first in a series of posts about my discoveries, and since its spring even though its drizzly out we'll focus on flowers.
This is my favorite shot of the bunch, a close-up of a scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius). They're beautiful flowers....to bad they're horribly invasive and wreak havoc on my sinuses.
Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a bizarre but common little plant. It gets its name because Gold Rushers ate it to stave off scurvy. It is indeed edible and still collected by some.
It took me a while to identify this little guy as naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora), a parasitic herb that steals its nutrients from saxifrages and stonecrops, among others.
Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) is a beautiful native shrub that has several cultivated varities in addition to this wild type.
When I came across these distinct flowers, I immediately recognized them as member of the borage family, Boraginaceae, thanks to my vascular plant diversity class days. It's a forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.). My field guide reports two very different stories for the name: one, that it was "worn to retain a lover's affection", and two, that it was named for the "nauseating taste it left in one's mouth". I think I prefer the former.
This project finally got me to identify this common plant that I see just about everywhere. I knew it was a member of the mint family by its square stem but never remembered to look up more about it. It turns out it's called self-heal or heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) for its widespread use in native and herbal medicine. [Edit July 09 - turns out this is purple dead-nettle, not self-heal]
Hairy rockcress (Arabis hirsuta). As with most of my identifications, I'm fairly confident in the genus but not 100% sure of the species. My field guide pictures the most common one and lists other similar varieties with characteristics, but with many taxonomies undefined anyway the plant world is a perfect example of how many shades of gray there are in the definition of a species.
Finally, two species of geranium that are considered weedy, but I actually think both of them are quite nice. This is Robert geranium (Geranium robertanium), a name so old it is no longer known which Robert it refers to.