I think everyone can identify the clover wildflower, but there are many more wildflowers that most of us have never heard of. I don’t know why I find wildflowers so interesting but I do.
Last year, my husband Rolf canoed down the Bow River, landed on an island, and started taking pictures of the wildflowers. You might not consider them “flowers” – you might think they are “weeds”. It’s just a word and the reality depends on your perspective.
So there he is, tracking Water Smartweed, and he trips and drops his camera into the beaver pond. This is sad, because now he needs to buy a new camera. Not only that, he can’t photograph the Water Smartweed.
That was last year. He bought a new camera, a Panasonic Lumix LX5, and he paddled down the river again. And damn, he couldn’t find the Water Smartweed! But, on the other side of the island, he did manage to find Pale Smartweed. This is what it looks like.
Imagine writing a fantasy universe and having to come up with a whole set of names for the vegetation on that world. It could take days of work.
But why bother? Hardly anybody knows what the stuff on this planet is called. Like our neighbour Bruce, who has a few weeds in his alley. Rolf was out there talking to him and telling him what his “weeds” were called. And then Rolf found one he didn’t recognize so he took out his trusty camera and got a photo. After checking four reference books, he discovered it was Prickly Lettuce. This is what it looks like.
I had no idea this was Prickly Lettuce and I’ll bet you didn’t either. So now we both know what it looks like.
This naming of Wildflowers may seem to have no apparent purpose, but it does.
- It’s useful for creating a realistic sounding alternate reality.
- If you are ever on a Game Show, you at least know Something.
- If you have grandchildren, you might impress them.
- And, best of all, it’s a friendly interest in the universe.
How about you? Do you have a favourite weed or wildflower? Can you hardly wait until Rolf can find and photograph the Water Smartweed?
clover from bigstockphoto #229975936
Weeds are just plants that grow where you don’t want them.
I enjoy learning the names of plants, weed or not. The camas lily grows like a weed here and they are such a pretty purple color.
In Alberta, we have Snow-on-the-Mountain that you can buy at garden centres, but you only put it in a place where you don’t mind it spreading. It’s hardy, like a weed!
I have to wonder if prickly lettuce is edible. I, also like to take pictures of wildflowers but sometimes I can never figure out what they are.
Apparently when the leaves are young, they can be used in salads, much like dandelion leaves. Prickly lettuce might even be an ancestor of the lettuce we eat today, and it might be useful for making you sleepy. Who knew?
And yes, it’s very hard to figure out what these plants are. Kind of a process of elimination.
Great post! I actually have already discovered this little secret… was researching vegetation for a particular fantasy scenario and came up with all sorts of cool names. The latin names — modified — can be useful too!
Ellen, that’s brilliant. I hadn’t thought of using the Latin names in the world building.
So, Dandelion becomes Taraxacum. On the new planet (as on this one) the leaves are used in salads or for tea, the roots are roasted and ground to make coffee, and the blossoms are used for making wine.
And I suppose, on this new planet, we would need new words for tea, coffee and wine…
I like letting my gardens grow wild. It’s survival of the fittest.
I always keep my Audubon field guide handy for looking up plants and wildlife. These days we are most interested in the lovely butterflies visiting us!
Rabia – one of the prettiest plants in my garden is the fireweed!
Susanne, you and Rolf should take a trip up north and stop by my house so Rolf can identify a weed that keeps growing in my flower gardens. Near as I can tell, it’s a nettle. And every time I pick it, the stupid thing must put out something to protect itself and the result looks like the flesh eating disease. I’ve finally figured out that if I pull it with my garden gloves on, shove it into a bag, tie it securely and toss it into r garbage, then go wash my gloves and hands, I’m usually safe. But it’s a very worrisome weed.
Although it is rather pretty ….
Nettles? With lots of zigzaggy pretty green leaves? Ouch! Some people seem more susceptible than others. My dad could rip them out with his bare hands. I can’t go near them. I get very bad welts. Apparently they attract “good” insects, but I’d be wary of them…
If I don’t do some yard work, I’ll have lots of examples for you to photograph. LOL thx for naming some of the stuff that grows here, that I knew nothing about.
Louise – you speak for all of us! thanks for stopping by.