Posts made in January, 2013

Red Orange Yellow Day

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in environment, holiday, photos, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, winter | 2 comments

It’s the last day of January. The dead of winter. Long ago, I had a terrific boss who insisted that every year the staff celebrate Red Orange Yellow Day. I’m not sure if he made it up, or if there really is such a thing. The celebration was always held in January, a month famous for gray skies, dirt-speckled snow, and cold toes. I guess the idea was to brighten everyone up through the mid-winter blues, and it certainly brightened the office, as every on the staff wore the requisite colors and shared a pot-luck lunch of salsa, ziti, orange juice, rainbow sherbet, lemon meringue...

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Celandine: A Cozy Microhabitat

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in environment, leaves, plant parts, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, winter | 0 comments

This little green plant is thriving, as so many weeds do, in the crack between brick and blacktop. Somehow a seed got in there, and found enough soil and moisture to sustain life. The dainty scalloped leaves are a non-native wildflower called celandine, a member of the poppy family. In summer it has a pretty yellow, buttercup-like flower. It also has a vivid blaze-orange sap that is quite toxic, but is a tried and true folk remedy for warts. Just dab it on. (It worked for me, but be cautious, the sap is quite caustic and could irritate the skin.) The amazing thing is how this little plant...

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War and Seaweed

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in environment, photos, Unmowed Blog | 5 comments

Sorry, this has absolutely nothing to do with botany. Several years ago, I wrote a book for young people on a weird and totally obscure topic: a little known historical incident that happened during the weird and totally obscure War of 1812. The thing is that this event happened in my hometown of Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. (Long ago, Gloucester included the town now called Rockport, then known as the parish of Sandy Bay.) I love the rock-bound coast of Cape Ann, and I had always wanted to write something about it. I actually started off writing an article on seaweed and...

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Together in the Storm

Posted by on Jan 18, 2013 in photos, Unmowed Blog, winter | 2 comments

Thanks to Wells Horton for another amazing photograph. Who says trees all look alike?

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Honey Locust: Something Missing

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in adaptations, native American, plant parts, Unmowed Blog | 7 comments

Ever see these weird wiggly worm-like seed pods lying around in a parking lot? They come from a tree, Honey Locust, Gleditsia triacanthos. The seed pods are a little sweet to taste, that’s where the honey part of the name comes from. They’re occasionally nibbled by deer and squirrels, and were even used as a sugar substitute long ago. The best thing about them, though, is that when you shake the dried pods, they have this great rattly maraca sound. Honey locust is the classic parking lot tree—it flourishes in this odd environment of cement and blacktop because it’s a particularly...

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