Sunday, April 18, 2010

Biking Botany! How Do These Go Together?

Today we went on a little bike ride and I got a chance to do a wee little bit of botanizing in between making sure Ella did not crash on her bike. Yes I said BIKE! Daddy put training wheels on her brother's old 12 inch wheel bike and Ella was hot to trot!

She just looks so tiny on that bike. It cracks me up. Ella was a super trouper.

And NO, I did not accomplish my mission of ensuring my daughter did not crash. I had one cringe, "Oh crap," moment during the ride when my baby girl had a super "woman" style, over-the-handle-bars crash and got up with tears streaming down her face to tell me, "We have to keep biking, Mom. I need to get back on my bike." Yes, she really said that.

Wyatt being the veteran bike rider with two full years under his belt knew the course and kept pace with Dad for most of the ride. Except when "Mom" made him stop for a gratuitous photograph.

I told him to look at the hills since they are beautiful. See the picture below.

Then with Dad he tackled the trail in style. That is of course with his Dad riding wheelies for large sections of the trip. He actually can ride along like that for minutes at a time. He's got some kind of balance. . . When he was in Jr. High he told me that the police pulled him over and gave him a ticket. A ticket for riding a wheelie down the street. The nerve of the police!

Ella says, "Dad's can put on helmets too."

Now for the botany on this trail, well, I must admit it is not that great. It's mostly weeds with a few native trees. But I thought some of the more obscure flowers might be interesting to photograph. Those flowers that are not often recognized as "flowers" because they lack showy pedals and are green.

First, here is a black walnut (Juglans hindsii) inflorescence. It's the dangling green thing from the bottom of the branch. They are called catkins and on this plant they consist of only flowers with male parts. The female flowers are in a separate flower on the tree.

Then there is the yellowish cream-colored flowers pictured here. If you know what plant this is you get a gold star and won't ever come down with strange unexplainable rashes on your body.

Yeah, it's poison oak . . . One of my botany professors once told me, "Who cares about poison oak. There may be more then one species of Toxicodendron, but who the heck wants to study THAT?" I must admit I can see his point.

I saw a few of my favorite weeds blooming too. This is fumatory (Fumaria capreolata) below. It's a weed from Europe. Like a bunch of us . . . But has a few physically redeeming qualities like dainty flowers born upon slender delicate stems. Now, I am questioning why I think dainty and delicate is a redeeming quality. Drat!

And finally, I saw a giant composite called Tragopogon porrifolius, otherwise known as purple salsify. I love the enormous globe-like dandelion's heads that appear after the seeds are germinated. The flower is pretty too in it's own spiky, alien-looking way.

Next time I have treat in botany with photos from a very special site that is home to several federally endangered herbaceous plant species. It was like botanical fireworks this weekend!! Really good plants in perfect bloom!


Mountain Woman said...

Beautiful photos of your children. They are always so adorable they steal the show.

Poison oak!!! Not my favorite at all but lovely in the pictures. It was good to visit California through your photos.

Melodie said...

Great picts! It looks like you all had a wonderful family fun day!

Suzi said...

Poison Oak! I cringe when I hear the words together. I think the words themselves attack my skin. You are not allowed to say that anymore in my presence. :-)

Doris Sturm said...

Great post, Julia - I find your adventures always so entertaining. I especially loved the shot of the hills and your handsome boy gazing at them, of course - and the purple salsify really was intruiging to me. I love alien-looking plants, thistles, cacti and passion flowers...they are awesome!
Thank you, Julia, I enjoyed your trip :-)

Holly, the Old Western Gal said...

Oh my Ella sure does look tiny on that tiny bike! What a trouper. And Wyatt too. I love the flowers you showed and the beautiful hillside. I like dainty flowers too, because it's so amazing that they can actually grow from a speck of a seed and withstand the weather and make a bloom and continue!

Pricilla said...

I love going on these trips with you!

The Mind of a Mom said...

that was so precious! Funny how they hear sayings and can use the saying properly when the time comes!

Julie Harward said...

What a darling, brave little girl...your kids are blessed indeed! Come say hi :D

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I've wanted to see that purple Tragopogan for a long time. We just have the yellow ones. The fumitory is really pretty too.

Ms Snarky Pants said...

Poor little Ella!!! Soooo cute about the having to get back on her bike! *sniffs at the adorableness* Sounds like it was a wonderful ride. Such beautiful pictures!

theUngourmet said...

Great photos Julia! You always make me want to go back to school to study Botany! :)

Walk in the Woods said...

What a beautiful and value-added day! I am forever dazzled - even wandering my own little back yard - at the diversity of plant life, and how often get out my field guides and get to know a new Green Friend!

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