Thursday, June 25, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
|American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana|
Thursday, June 11, 2015
|Living Stones, Lithops spp.|
The particular genus Lithops was first discovered in 1811 by Thomas Burchell. Its ability to blend in almost fooled Burchell who originally thought the plant a curiously shaped pebble. No other part of the plant is exposed to the surface.
The peculiarity of the leaves goes beyond appearance. The actual photosynthetic tissue is located on the inner surface of the leaf. In order to reach the tissue, sunlight travels through what is known as windows. These transparent sections allow light striking it to be diffused by crystals of calcium oxalate to allow maximum exposure to the photosynthetic tissue. The gas exchange of the plant occurs underground so the stomates are not exposed to wind or sun allowing minimal water loss.
Unfortunately, the bizarre appearance and unique characteristics of Living Stones has made them popular with collectors. Many species have been driven to the verge of extinction by collectors. They are now protect by law, but ones grown from seed or other lawful means are available in nursery and gardening centers.
This is a direct copy of my earlier post on Google+ found here. The photo is one from a local nursery - I've not had an opportunity to find these in the wild yet! There will be no posts next week, but will resume (likely briefly) the week after. It's a busy time of year for me, but I'm doing my best :)
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Thursday, June 4, 2015
|Indian Blanket, Gaillardia pulchella|
|Field of Indian Blanket and highly invasive Queen Anne's lace|
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
|Panorama of water within and heading to the floodplains.|
Simply put, a floodplain is an area of land prone to flooding. It is often flat with higher elevation on both sides and may be either very small or very large. While it can be a problem for houses build on floodplains, they play an extremely important role. The floods that occur carry sediment rich in nutrients past banks and into surrounding areas. This in turn makes for fertile land ripe for agriculture and is where some of the world's earliest civilizations arose.
Rather than be labeled as an aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem, some ecologist label floodplains as "pulsed" ecosystems - an intermediate habitat. With exception to extreme events, the "pulse" and reach of a floodplain can be predicted. The flat, fertile, predictable land is therefore considered ideal for building, but often at the cost of the health of the floodplain.
There are six criteria used to determine floodplain health:
1. The ecosystem supports habitats and viable native animal and plant populations similar to those present prior to any disturbances.
2. The ecosystem is able to return to its pre-existing condition after a disturbance, whether natural or human-induced.
3. The ecosystem is able to sustain itself.
4. The river can function as part of a healthy basin.
5. The annual flood pulse "connects" the main channel to its floodplain.
6. Infrequent natural events - floods and droughts - are able to maintain ecological structure and processes within the reach.
A healthy floodplain results in a healthy river. It is also important to understand when developing on a floodplain. Otherwise the result benefits no one.
This is a straight copy-and-paste from my post a few weeks back on Google+ which can be found here along with many, many more photos of the actual floodplain and damage at that time. The photos are from a week before even more, worse flooding. Those photos might come later as the area is currently underwater and unavailable for photographing.