Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Valentines for Plant Lovers (BGR #25)

Valentine’s Day normally passes without a blip around here, but this year was outstanding! As beautiful heart-shaped boxes arrived in my inbox for Berry-Go-Round this month, I was reminded that botanical carnivals are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s bound to be delicious! I did a little very tasty research, and I can confidently report that you’ll find plenty of good eatin’, er, reading here for our February edition. It's highly caloric, though—you just might not want to consume the whole thing in one sitting.

Remember: If you enjoy these sites, do leave a comment for the authors, and tell them Berry-Go-Round sent you! Links back to the carnival are also appreciated.

Ted, at Beetles in the Bush, breaks with the Valentine’s Day tradition of red roses and offers us white orchids instead. No complaints here, with his gorgeous photos of the Great Plains Ladies'-tresses orchid (Spiranthes magnicamporum), which he observed on a dolomite glade in the White River Hills of southwestern Missouri last October.

Ted also sent something extra (looks like a chocolate lollipop or tootsie roll to me), which he found at Digital Botanic Garden. This new site is well worth exploring-- I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by any of the gourmet chocolates in this box; Phil’s plant photos are all incredible.

The melt-in-your-mouth flavor of Diane’s contribution from Hill-stead’s blog belies its less-than-tempting smell, which is not what most might prefer in their holiday confections. There’s a good reason her skunk cabbage is a bit on the foetid side. Learn why, and much more, as she welcomes this early sign of spring and encourages us to get out and take a look around too.

Oh dear, a few of our chocolates seem to have gotten a little stale, and here it’s only been two weeks since Valentine’s Day. Despite being 350 million years old, Sarcozona’s contribution on Archeopteris (and Archaeopteryx!) is surprisingly rich and delectable, and includes a wonderful fossil play on words. Look for it at Gravity's Rainbow.

Phytophactor also brings us a treat that’s a bit past its expiration date, a 400-million-year-old enigmatic fossil, Prototaxites. He makes up for it by refreshing us with something fresh and flowery for Ash Wednesday. If chocolate’s not enough to nudge you out of the winter doldrums and you missed his January prescriptions for relief, his recent suggestion to visit a greenhouse may do the trick.

You could always get away from the cold and snow by trotting off to some sunny place, as John did at Kind of Curious, where he blogs about what is out there in our world and how/why we should protect it.

The valentine he sent from Hawaii tells us 11 amazing things about Haleakala silversword. It turns out that not all of Hawaii is warm and sunny, so silversword has a special trick for beating the cold.

Of course, chocolate is a specialty of Mexico, and Jeremy and Luigi at Agricultural Biodiversity share an assortment of new scientific results in the search for agricultural origins in Mexico and Italy and review how genebanks are doing in preserving crop and wild relative diversity. As long as they preserve chocolate, we'll be fine.

You won't find any additives in Emily's valentine. No seeds, no fruits, no flowers, and definitely no problem with her post on old timey fern guidebooks, just decadent dark chocolate. Ummm... and remember, dark chocolate is rich in bioflavonoids, so it's good for you too!

But maybe you'd prefer a little fruit in your chocolate (extra antioxidants, right?), and don't we all recognize those chocolate-covered cherries? As host of this edition, Sally here at Foothills Fancies takes us over to Small Wonders for her essay on getting birds to help in the garden.

It's hard to believe, after all these boxes of chocolates, that I still wasn't satisfied. I just needed to round up something a little nutty, and I found it at Watching the World Wake Up. Who but the Watcher could turn a pie-tasting contest into a botanical lesson?

Through my research, I discovered that purveyors of chocolate talk in lusciously smooth and creamy phrases, with a special vocabulary, as do wine connoisseurs. Can chocolate be a bit resinous as this hackmatack post at Blogs Monroe is? Is “oakey” just in wine, or does it come in chocolates too? If so, Ted offers us a taste of oak at Hawn State Park in Missouri, and Swampy echoes the flavor with quirky Quercus. Swampy also turned up the first dandelion of spring over at Swamp Things.

Want to get depressed so you have a reason to Eat More Chocolates? Check out not so looming Anthropocene extinctions at Conservation Bytes; it'll help you develop a craving!

A Few Final Bites

The pink and red of valentines reminded me of the colour of spring over at Rock Paper Lizard.

Jessica, at Moss Plants and More, shares a great idea with the latest moss gardening book, and gives us a most intriguing tip to visit the mosscam, where you can enjoy mosses in action.

Lindsay's series of posts (February 18-26, with closing statement on March 1) on biodiversity and sports (think Olympics, not botanical) forges more connections between plants and athletics than we might expect. See how at Botany Photo of the Day, from the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. If you're still in a valentiney mood, check out Daniel's timely post on Rose hybrids while you're there.

Over at Seeds Aside, Laurent tells us that Orthoptera can pollinate too.

Witch’s brooms are featured in the Annotated Flora, a collection of more than 100 columns on native plants by Ken Moore, as published in The Carrboro Citizen, a newspaper from Carrboro, North Carolina.

Wow—with history, heart-health benefits, diversity of forms, and outright deliciousness, chocolate has to be one of the world's favorite plant-based products. By now, you've probably worked up an appetite. I'd be remiss if I didn't send you over to Chocolate and Zucchini, where you can find Clothilde's cake of the same ingredients, and to the Chocolate Gourmand, where Brian will treat you to dark chocolate gelato.

That wraps up our belated summary of this year's valentines. Whew, I think I've gained five pounds! I hope you found something new to enjoy among your old favorites, and that you'll find this assortment of goodies richly rewarding and well worth those extra calories!


Ted C. MacRae said...

Wonderful presentation - very creative. I can't wait to taste the goodies.

Hugh Griffith said...

Wow. A caloric eyeful. Terrific job, thanks for including my post.

Jeremy said...

Wow! What an eyeful. Thanks a bunch. Did you know, by the way, when you linked to that neat post on witch's brooms, that witch's broom is also a disease that devastates -- you guessed it -- Theobroma cacao. So be careful what you wish for.

Dave Coulter said...

Very cool....I can't wait to get into this! :)

sarcozona said...

Such a fun Berry Go Round! You've set the bar high for me this month!

Watcher said...

Well done- great edition!

(I'm hungry)