Jun. 26, 2021

mouse-ear cress, Arabidopsis thaliana

Mouse-ear cress is a small weedy species that we've all seen here, there, and - well - everywhere. It will pop up in the spring on any bit of bare ground, and be gone within a few weeks. Or sometimes, if the season is slow, it lasts a little longer. Then it lets us see its cantils. Cantils are little downward slanted bases to the flower stems that add strength and help them last longer. Sort of like cantilevers? Oddly, these organs or functions are newly described in science. Mouse-ear is also known as thale cress. Mostly by that name it has long been used by botanists to study plant genetics and physiology. It has been described as the fruit fly of botany. To think we could have been playing with these instead of flies and their larvae in biology class! This info and more came to me from a Smithsonian article thoughtfully sent by a friend. Thanks, Sam. Thale grows in every state except AZ, CO, HI, ND, NM, NV, and WY, and in BC, ON, QC, and on SPM. Lenawee Co MI, 5/6/13. Mustard family, Brassicaceae.