Monday, February 22, 2016

Spring tutorial

I've got a very busy work schedule in the coming months, so I decided to give myself a break and slip into teaching mode. For the next week, I'll bring you the first part of a presentation on plant families that I gave to the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists some years back. (You'll need to fill in the witty banter on your own.) We'll focus on two plant families blooming in February/March. You'll be an expert in identifying these two families this season - and will amaze family and friends with your knowledge.
One caveat here: Don't expect to be able to identify each plant in these families. The first step is figuring out the family and that's what I'll present.

For plants, the 3 Fs are important:

Foliage generally means leaves, but we'll consider stems as well. Foliage is (generally) green stuff. The green stuff appears first because green = energy factory. Green is where photosynthesis occurs; where the plant, using photons from the sun, splits water to push electrons around to create carbohydrates (and also proteins and fats).
Flowers are a plant's way of making more plants; in other words, flowers are for making fruits. And you know what fruits are :-)

Our first spring-blooming family is the Borage family.

Remember, this is Anne's first-step method to identifying plants by family. We'll look at all three Fs, of course, but the most important one for this family is 'hairy.'

Photo by Matt Ball

Click on this photo and you'll see three Borage family plants blooming now in Sabino Canyon. Note the hairy foliage.
Tune in tomorrow where we'll look closer at the orange Borage above : -)
(If you'd rather not be tutored, tune in again on 2/29.)

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