(Wild)flowery Friday.

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In around the packing for our move across the city, the brutally lengthy commute, and working at a new location (not to mention, utterly failing to reply to the thoughtful, wonderful blog comments people have left or find the time to read anyone else’s blog entries) , there have been few spare moments to do any hiking or wildflower hunting this spring…and I’m dearly missing getting out.  My hubby and I did manage a whirlwind couple of orchid-hunting trips a couple of weeks ago, first to a spot we know southwest of the city, near the mountains, to look for calypso (or fairy slipper) orchids.  We found a scarce few, and I hope it was just a timing thing, because their numbers were sorely depleted from our last visit in spring 2015 (when I took the above photo).

Later in the same week, we went out to a place in the foothills of the Rockies, and scoped out the brilliant yellow lady’s slippers I mention here.  In this place, this year, the orchids had spread abundantly – a fantastic sign!

Speaking of lady’s slipper orchids, I recently came across a great article about the pollination and seed development of these gorgeous plants.  Enjoy the interesting read here.

Hopefully things will settle down in the next month or so and I can catch up with all of you very soon!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Interesting facts about dandelions.

I’m revisiting an old post that usually sees a bit of traffic at this time of year…but it’s NEW AND IMPROVED! I’ve added a new photo and some new facts, and updated some links.  I hope you enjoy the extras! 

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Dandelions, dandelions everywhere! The City has reduced its herbicide use over the past few years, which is a very good thing – dandelions are, after all, one of the best early pollinator plants around!

Just for fun, I dug up some Interesting Facts about Dandelions:

The name dandelion comes from the French “dent de lion” – lion’s tooth, which refers to the serrated leaves.

Another folk name for dandelion is “swine snort,” which makes me want to sneeze or giggle or both.

Taraxacum officinale is a perennial, but there are some dandelion species that are biennial.

If you mow dandelions, they’ll grow shorter stalks to spite you.

Dandelion pollen cannot cause allergies – the grains are far too large to be bothersome, but you can get contact dermatitis from the milky sap (latex) that the plant contains.

Dandelions open in the daytime and close at night.

Dandelion seed can travel up to 8 kilometres (5 miles).

Dandelion flower heads can be used to make dye in the yellow-green range.  The leaves will make a purple dye.

Dandelions will produce more seed than usual if their habitat is disturbed, giving them a competitive edge over other plants in the area.

Dandelions have a taproot which can extend up to a whopping 4.5 metres (15 feet) underground, although you’ll typically find them top out at 45 cm (18″), which is still pretty long.

The taproot of dandelions is very useful to reduce compaction in garden soil.

Dandelions are dynamic accumulators – that means they can draw nutrients such as nitrogen from the soil and concentrate them in their leaves and roots.

The parts of the dandelion apparently represent the celestial bodies: the yellow flower head is the sun, the white seed head is the moon, and the seeds are the stars as they spread all over the galaxy (read: your lawn).

What we think of as the petals of a dandelion flower are actually individual flowers themselves. They will produce fruit called achenes, followed by the tiny, barbed brown seed and it’s accompanying “parachute” (called a pappus) that helps it disperse in the wind.

Dandelion flowers do not need to be pollinated to form seed.

Dandelions likely originated in Eurasia 30 million years ago.

Dandelions are known as ruderals or pioneer plants, the first to colonize disturbed land (such as after a wildfire).

Dandelion blossoms have been historically used to treat warts, clear skin complexion, and heal blisters.

 I read that there is some sort of idea to use the latex in the future to make rubber tires for automobiles – we’ll see how that turns out.  UPDATE: There is an article about the concept here.

Dandelion roots can be used as a coffee substitute, much like chicory.

I had no idea, but dandelion roots can also be used to make beer – here is one recipe I found, which also uses burdock roots.

Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and the minerals calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

Some children’s books (fiction and non-fiction) about dandelions include: Joseph P. Anthony’s The Dandelion Seed, L. Kite’s Dandelion Adventures, and two sets of  books with the same title, From Seed to Dandelion, by Jan Kottke and Ellen Weiss, and Dandelions, by Kathleen Kudlinski and Eve Bunting.  I reviewed Kevin Sheehan’s The Dandelion’s Tale a few years ago on my now-defunct blog The Door is Ajar – you can find my thoughts here.

Did you know there is a dandelion tree?  Well, not really…it’s another case of the utter inaccuracy of most common names. Despite this, Dendroseris pruinata is fascinating and rare, and you can take a look at some photos of it here.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s tallest dandelion was grown here in Canada (in Ontario), and was found in September of 2011.  It topped out at a whopping 177.8 cm (70 inches).  Apparently, there have been at least two (maybe three?) record-breaking dandelions grown since then, but there is some dispute over whether any of them – even the record-holder – are actually dandelions at all.  Read all about the controversy here!  (This one in Norfolk certainly seems a little suspicious…).

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I found this strange dandelion specimen on Nose Hill, in Calgary – it looks like it might be a type of fasciation.  The fifth flower head actually drove through the centre stem, which was massively enlarged and already sported four joined flower heads. 

Thank you again for following Flowery Prose!  I truly appreciate your readership!  

Flowery Friday.

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If you’ve been following Flowery Prose for a while, you’ll know that I post a new photo of these beauties every single year around this time. It’s a tradition I’m sticking to…I hope you don’t mind.  🙂

 

 

Flowery Friday.

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Yet another week of not-spring has gone by…but I’m feeling optimistic. Looking very forward to sunshine-filled summer hiking trips and a possible sighting of this fascinating Alberta wildflower, striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata). To find out why this plant isn’t green, check out a previous post I did about coralroots way back in 2013.

Enjoy your weekend!  What projects are you working on (gardening or otherwise)?

Flowery Friday.

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Today’s flower is an interesting one (and a native, to boot!) – woolly gromwell (Lithospermum ruderale).  According to Plants of Alberta (France Rover, Richard Dickinson), there are only thirty species of the Borage family growing wild in Alberta, of which this is one. In early summer, the west slopes of Nose Hill here in Calgary are dotted with these strange spiky-leaved plants, in full bloom.

What ruderal plants are common where you live?  I always think of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium, syn. Chamerion angustifolium) – in mid-summer, it is simply spectacular in roadside ditches and in mountain meadows.

Flowery Friday.

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Yes, it’s not a plant most people are fond of here; there’s a very good reason quite a few species are on our province’s invasive plants list. But I have a fascination with thistles – there’s all that geometry and architecture about them, especially when they’re not in full flower – so when I found this specimen in an overgrown back alley a block from my home in early July of last year, I was keen to get some photos of it. This isn’t the ubiquitous Canada thistle (Circsium arvense) – rather, I think it is Carduus nutans, nodding thistle, sometimes called musk thistle.

Of course, while I was hunkered down on the ground with my camera, busily snapping away, a city bylaw officer drove into the alley to investigate.  What he thought of my antics, I’ll never know, as he (thankfully!) didn’t stop the car to talk to me…but I do know that less than a week later, that alley was sprayed very thoroughly with weed killer.

Family Literacy Day.

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Today, January 27, is Family Literacy Day here in Canada! Since its designation in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada, Family Literacy Day is an annual celebration of reading and other activities related to literacy.  “Learn at play, every day” is this year’s slogan, reflecting the link between play and reading and the development of children.

At work this week, I found a couple of picture books that were so appealing I just have to share…the first one is Planting the Wild Garden by Kathyrn O. Galbraith (illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin). Although it’s classified as fiction, it approaches non-fiction in its clear explanation of the many ways seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, animals, and people. I love how everything seems to be moving in this book, expressed in action words and noises: the crisp sound of pods snapping, the “per-chik-o-ree” of a goldfinch, the chomping of raccoons on blackberries. Portions of the text are even printed topsy-turvy on the page, reflecting the constant motion of seeds.  So clever!

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(2011, Peachtree Publishers, Georgia)

Well-known children’s book and fantasy author Jane Yolen’s poetry is simple, sweet, and lyrical in Sing A Season Song, and combined with Lisel Jane Ashlock’s spectacular illustrations, this book is positively breathtaking.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids or you’re a long way from being one yourself, it’s worth finding a copy so you can delight in the artistry and beauty.

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(2015, Creative Editions, Minnesota) You can find more examples of Ashlock’s art on her website here. Chances are you may have already read a book she’s illustrated or provided the cover art for.

Spend some time reading to or with a child – not just today and not only if you’re Canadian! Kids + books = something magical and amazing!  Adults + books, too…. 🙂