Spring green

Good botany links this past couple of weeks.

First, Anne-Marie at Pondering Pikaia explains the difference between two families of succulents in You Can’t Milk a Cactus.

Second, at Botany Photo of the Day, guest bloggers Connor Fitzpatrick, Hannes Dempewolf, and Paul Bordoni promote the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species with reports on four examples: emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccon), laurel (Laurus nobilis), maya nut (Brosimum alicastrum), and sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). The GFU’s mission is to “Promote and facilitate the sustainable deployment of underutilized plant species to increase food security and alleviate poverty among the rural and urban poor.”

Some snaps: 2

Clearview in LoudounHighway signs using Clearview, a more legible alternative to so-called Freeway Gothic, are starting to make their appearance in Virginia. Here’s an example, this one particularly easy to photograph, at the end of the parking lot for the W&OD Trail where it crosses Route 28. How to distinguish Clearview? Notice the tails on the lowercase L’s, the large x-height, and the springy-looking lowercase A’s. Leta says, “it just looks bigger.”

crocus '08A sign of spring: crocus (in Northwestern University colors) in my front yard, peeping through last year’s St. John’s wort.

Devil Guts

Justin Runyon et al. from Penn State demonstrate that dodder (Cuscuta pentagona), a parasitic orange-stemmed vine, uses chemical scents to find host plants. We see a lot of dodder in the Huntley Meadows Park wetland, and I think it’s a fascinating creation. Not for nothing is it called “Witches’ Shoelaces.” But I would no doubt feel differently if I were this tomato plant.