Monday, July 18, 2016

Purple with purplexity #phenology

I don't know why I keep expecting consistency among "expert" sources when it comes to information on native plants and invasive species. Our visit to Osceola last Friday was brightened by sidewalk and foundation plantings of purple coneflowers.

Eastern Purple Coneflowers?
Eastern Purple Coneflowers?
Photo by J. Harrington

I had thought they were native to Minnesota, but, according to Minnesota Wildflowers, Echinacea purpurea (Eastern Purple Coneflower) is a "native of eastern moist to mesic prairie," but there are "no known natural occurrences in Minnesota" (county distribution map). "Its flowers are similar to our native Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower)..." Thinking that would help explain my misperception, I clicked a few more links to discover that the Minnesota Extension service states that "Many natives, like brown-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea),"... Now we have two reasonably authoritative on-line sources one of which claims Echinacea purpurea isn't native, the other that it is. What's a poor amateur naturalist to do? This one decided "it's for the birds."

House finch (red) Goldfinch (yellow)
House finch (red) Goldfinch (yellow)
Photo by J. Harrington

We had a new arrival at the feeders over the weekend. House finches showed up from time to time. These I thought didn't include Minnesota in their range, but further explorations proved that incorrect. They do look similar to, but different than, purple finches, although the colors are more solid (less mottled) and the bodies are discernible smaller. I'm not going to do more research on house fences lest I (re)find the source that led me to believe they aren't found in Minnesota and short-circuit the few brain cells I have still functioning.


Identity

Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.

I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.

To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.

I'd rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they're praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.

I'd rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed
.



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