Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When is a pasqueflower?

Many times it's an accumulation of little things that leaves me in awe of nature and the intricacy of the beauty surrounding us. The bluebirds have returned and are building a nest in their house out back. The king bird has returned but seems confused because the house is where she left it but the siding and color are all different. I wonder if she'll move into the bluebird house out front instead of trying to nest over the door. One forsythia bush I drove by yesterday was in full bloom and would be a great camouflage location for goldfinches. The frogs in the wet spot out back are croaking and peeping. Local farmers are getting into their fields, the AWP conference has come and gone and I've once again failed to find pasqueflowers to photograph. Spring and life seem to be following their typical two steps forward, one back pattern, but within what I still see as reasonable sequences and time periods. But then I'm not likely to starve if an insect hatch or flower bloom is a week or two late. Just because it may not matter much to me at the moment doesn't mean it doesn't matter much.

early, early oak leaf out (March 2012)
early, early oak leaf out (March 2012)
Photo by J. Harrington

Three years ago, the oak tree beside the deck had its leaf buds greening and opening by the third week of March. This year they look as if they haven't really started to think about waking from their long Winter nap by the second week of April.

this year's oak leaf buds (April 2015)
this year's oak leaf buds (April 2015)
Photo by J. Harrington

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a place far, far away, I attended college. While there, I thought I had learned about the Linnean binomial nomenclature system and that, using it, each plant and animal had a unique name. I must have been playing whist the day the class covered the exception that goes "establishing that two names actually refer to the same species and then determining which has priority can be difficult, particularly if the species was named by biologists from different countries. Therefore a species may have more than one regularly used name; these names are 'synonyms.'" I might have come across that information once upon a time, but I assure you if didn't "stick." Today I discovered that the eastern pasqueflower has binomial synonyms. The Minnesota Wildflower web site refers to it as Anemone patens. The Eloise Butler site also names it Anemone patens but includes this note "[also known as Pulsatilla nuttalliana (DC.) Spreng.]" The USDA plants database lists it as "Pulsatilla patens (L.) Mill." and it took me some determined searching to find where they listed synonyms. I wonder if it's possible to become a backyard naturalist without also qualifying for a Ph.D. in botany or taxonomy. Anyhow, eastern pasqueflowers are found all along the counties on the western border of Wisconsin, but not along the eastern border of Minnesota. They're reported found in Washington County, but not Chisago. I'm intrigued by the question of why they don't exist in the Anoka Sand Plain area and some of the other sandy prairie locations. Something to explore when I'm not looking for the actual plants so I can take some pictures.  This naming and distribution of pasqueflowers has me feeling kind of here and there, like today's Poem-a-Day.

National Poetry Month

Here and There

I sit and meditate—my dog licks her paws
on the red-brown sofa
so many things somehow
it all is reduced to numbers letters figures
without faces or names only jagged lines
across the miles half-shadows
going into shadow-shadow then destruction         the infinite light
here and there            cannot be overcome
it is the first drop of ink

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