Showing posts from November, 2009

Arthraxon hispidus

Earlier this year, September 14th to be exact, while driving a gravel road through a section of the Mark Twain National Forest I noticed a dramatic change in the structure of the roadside vegetation. My brain instantly weighed my desire to stop and investigate against my need to get some real work done. Before I could make up my mind, my foot hit the brake. It always does.

What I had seen was a large colony of grass that superficially resembled Microstegium vimineum in overall stature and habit. However, the inflorescences more closely resembled Bothriochloa bladhii.

Luckily, I had my copy of "Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri" (Yaskievych 1999) riding shotgun. A quick run through the keys gave the name Arthraxon hispidus.

I had heard of this grass before, though I had never seen it. It occurs rather sporadically throughout the eastern U.S. and is more common in the southeast (Kaufman and Kaufman 2007). Vegetatively, it is readily identified by its clasping leaves (similar to Di…

Pic Picks 2009

Now that the growing season has ended and the 2009 Botany Slideshow Extravaganza is over, I thought I would post some of my favorite photos from the year. The lack of labels or narrative is intentional. If you want a name, hover your cursor over the image and look for the name within the file name. Enjoy!

Rash Doctors

Many of the botanists of yore were primarily medical doctors by profession. Examples include such greats as Asa Gray, George Engelmann, John Torrey and to some extent Carolus Linnaeus himself. If modern doctors had such affection for our wild flora, perhaps I wouldn’t cringe when I commonly hear of people in the Midwest diagnosed with Poison Oak or Poison Sumac rash. To them, I usually reply with some cynically derived question regarding the geographical location of their encounter with the offender. If they have been diagnosed with Poison Oak I ask, “have you been in the forests, woodlands or swamps of the southern states lately?”. My Poison Sumac inquiry is more specific. “Have you been in a high quality wetland community lately?”, I say.

Most folks eye me queerly and retort “no, I was doing yard work” or “whatever do you mean”. The bait being taken, I explain that Poison Ivy is a much more likely explanation for their dermal discomfort; especially for those living outside the range …