Page 3 of 24

– definitively dentate –

I love when I know the exact word to describe something, whether that “something” is an emotion, a color, taste, or plant part. To help you feel more confident in the words of the botanical world, I’m starting this Botanical Alphabet series. It may or may not be published in exact alphabetical order.

dentate: having outward (opposed to upward, as in serrate) pointing teeth along the margin (or edge) of a leaf

Botanists use a lot of jargon; specific words to describe everything about a plant. I can think of at least a handful of terms, and I’m sure there are more, that are used to describe the edges of leaves alone. Knowing these descriptors comes in handy, though, like when you’re trying to key out a plant. But when you start seeing these descriptors in the scientific names of plants?  Then you can feel like a total plant rock star by knowing something about the plant without ever having seen it! For instance, you’ll find derivatives of the word dentate in Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple), Euphorbia dentate (toothed spurge), and Artemesia tridentata (big sagebrush). And, as you might have guessed, they are all toothed!

Egg Heads: A Planting Craft

The original idea for this craft came from the Our Best Bites Savoring the Seasons cookbook. If you want to see a super cute example of these little planters, then you should check out the book.

I’ve mentioned before that this is not, and never will be, a food blog. Even though I’ve posted recipes before, it’s not something I do consistently or probably even very well, for that matter. I should take the time now to also point out that this is not, and never will be, a craft blog. Crafting is just not something that really comes naturally to me.

Even so, here I am, posting a little planting craft. I almost didn’t. They didn’t turn out quite like I envisioned; a little more “rustic” and a lot less cute. But then I figured, hey, maybe someone out there is looking for something new to do with their quarantine time and their egg shells.

I know eggs can sometimes be a little harder to come by these days, but if you’ve got some and you’re using them anyway, take a little extra time to just remove the top third of the shell. You can do this by either being an expert egg cracker, or you can use a sharp knife to get it started. I found that making a sort of drilling motion with the knife point worked best for me.

I have to admit, though, that the drilling a hole into an egg shell brought back some memories of my most embarrassing mortifying experience of elementary school. I’m sure they didn’t let us use knives to make the holes in our eggs, but my memory of that part is a little fuzzy. What I do know is that we, the fourth graders, were congregated in the grassy area near the playground and were each given an egg with which we were going to make a blown-Easter egg craft. We made two small holes in the egg – one on either pole – and were told to blow the contents out into a cup and then dispose of the contents in  the restrooms. Well, I successfully blew my egg-insides into a cup and was heading to ask permission to take it to the restroom to flush away, when I tripped. Now, I adored my fourth grade teacher and would have been terribly embarrassed had the egg splashed on her. But it didn’t. Instead, it went all over the front of Mrs. Fjelsted’s skirt. Mrs. Fjelsted, the scary teacher. I wanted to die of both shame and fear. Or be swallowed by the earth. Anything but face what I thought for sure would be her wrath. I’m not sure what I thought she’d do to me – eat me maybe? – but I just knew it would be terrible. In the end, I survived. I don’t think I even got in trouble; the fact that I had drawn unwanted attention toward myself was enough.

Luckily for you, you can do this egg craft without the supervision of any scary fourth grade teachers. Unless you are one yourself. Or invite one over; but under the current pandemic situation, I don’t think that’s advised.

Ok, back to your eggs. After you’ve removed the top bit of shell, wash out the inside to remove any remaining egg bits. Then, fill it most of the way to the top with potting mix, sprinkle some seeds (we did grass, cilantro, and basil) on top of that, and then add just a bit more potting mix to cover the seeds. Give it a drink, put it in a sunny spot, and watch it grow! Couldn’t be easier. A word to the wise, though: don’t use grass seed that is 10+ years old. The germination rate goes down real quick after a couple years, which is why our egg heads are so sparsely tufted.

There you have it – an eggcelent (sorry, not sorry) pandemic quarantine life (or anytime) craft.

– curious catkins –

I love when I know the exact word to describe something, whether that “something” is an emotion, a color, taste, or plant part. To help you feel more confident in the words of the botanical world, I’m starting this Botanical Alphabet series. It may or may not be published in exact alphabetical order.

catkin: a spike-like, usually – though not always – pendulous inflorescence of unisexual, apetalous flowers.

If, like me, you are waiting for spring to really come, you’re probably waiting for the flowers to appear. Especially the big showy tree flowers, like magnolia or apple blossoms. But right now where I live, the most common flowering trees to be found are the aspens (in the picture) and the birches. We’ll take what we can get, I guess.

Each catkin is either a group of only male or only female flowers. Some types of trees have both male and female catkins on the same plant (monoecious = one house), others have only one or the other (dioecious = two houses) on a particular plant. Catkins, as you can imagine from their homely, non-descript appearance, are generally pollinated by the wind. And, if you happen to suffer from early spring allergies and are wondering which tree to blame, look for the ones with the catkins and you might find your culprit.

Other trees that have catkins include: willows, hazel, alders, hickory, and mulberry.

Are there trees flowering where you live? Which ones?

– bothersome burs –

I love when I know the exact word to describe something, whether that “something” is an emotion, a color, taste, or plant part. To help you feel more confident in the words of the botanical world, I’m starting this Botanical Alphabet series. It may or may not be published in exact alphabetical order.

bur: a seed, fruit, or other seed dispersal unit that has hooks or teeth for sticking to fur or clothing for dispersal

If you have a dog, and have ever gone hiking with said dog, you are probably very familiar with the burs in the photo. They belong to the burdock plant; this particular one is Arctium minus, or lesser burdock, but there is also an Arctium lappa, the greater burdock. As near as I can tell, the major difference between the two is size (though there are some slight differences in the inflorescence and leaves as well). Regardless of which specific burdock you’re looking at, the burs are the focus here. The hooks on these burs, and their tenacious grip on a dog’s fur, were the inspiration behind Velcro.

So, are they bothersome? For sure. Do they do their job of helping seeds get from one place to another? Yes, indeed. Can you use them in place of Velcro? Quite possibly, though I’ve never tried it myself. If you try, let me know how it goes.

– abundant arils –

I love when I know the exact word to describe something, whether that “something” is an emotion, a color, taste, or plant part. To help you feel more confident in the words of the botanical world, I’m starting this Botanical Alphabet series. It may or may not be published in exact alphabetical order.

aril: the fleshy outgrowth of the funicle (stalk that connects the seed to the fruit wall); partially or fully covers the seed

Pomegranates are such a pretty fruit. And such a misunderstood one. Did you know that a pomegranate is actually a berry? Weird, I know. Especially when you then learn that the fruits we think of as “berries” (strawberries, raspberries, etc.) are actually classified as an “aggregate fruit”.

But back to pomegranates. We talk about eating pomegranate seeds, which, technically we do. But the tasty part – those little sacs of bright red juiciness – those are arils. Each of the hundreds of seeds inside a pomegranate have this extra covering around them that grows out from where the seed attaches to the inside of the fruit wall. All in an effort to get animals, like us, to eat them and spread their seed around to grow more pomegranates.

« Older posts Newer posts »