Blog

Nov. 30, 2019

Peppermint is considered a sterile hybrid. The parents are spearmint and lemon mint. For a sterile plant, peppermint sure acts like it produces seed. For example, it grows throughout Michigan. One parent, lemon mint has been found only in three northern counties, and two of those collections were more than a century ago. Peppermint has flowers at the ends of branches, without leaves with them. This image is of a plant growing among a patch of peppermint and field mint. Field mint has flowers subtended by leaves, like this. This individual also had bunches of flowers at the ends of branches, which field mint does not. In many ways it was intermediate between the other plants, and tasted like peppermint. It seems very much like a hybrid with a sterile parent!

Nov. 27, 2019

Spearmint mostly has very pale flowers. I was a little surprised when this one with its nice color keyed to spearmint. But mints are a little sloppy after centuries of agriculture and horticulture. The are many varieties and hybrids, any of which may turn up in the wild. All tasty!

Nov. 26, 2019

I know I foreswore politics on this site, but sometimes you just can't help it. The other candidate in 1936 was Alf Landon, who's symbol was the Kansas sunflower. That bright, cheery symbol of hope. Very welcome in that time. But his opponent said that it was yellow, had a black heart, was useful only as parrot food, and always died before November. Now here we are worried about conversation with friends and family at our holidays. So I suggest you take a bag of sunflower seeds with you. If the dreaded subject comes up, just pass the seeds to whoever parrots the other party line. Then just smile and keep quiet!

Nov. 24, 2019

Another look. Rattleboxes are mostly native to the Old World tropics. They are universally beautiful flowers, but botanists have made them a little frustrating. Identification keys are all written to depend on characters of the seed pods. Almost always when I've stopped to see their flowers, there have been no pods. So as time goes on, and we see more of this genus, don't count to much on my identifications.

Nov. 22, 2019

Here we can see prairie milkweed's tall skinny form. Most milkweeds have opposite leaves, but not this one. It also has more flower umbels than most milkweeds.