Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tellima grandiflora, depth of field

Tellima grandiflora (with a visitor), Miwok Trail, Marin County, February 2015.

 Tellima grandiflora, or fringecups, is one of the gems of Marin County's native flora. Like many, it shows itself in the spring, adding color that is easily overlooked to the woodland understory and streambanks. But upon closer study, one notices a transition in color from the base of the panicle (flower spike) to the top; looking closer, one can see delicate fringes on the tips of its petals. It's kind of a marvel. It is the kind of thing that makes me wonder -- why? Why the detail? Does this help this plant survive somehow? Maybe it doesn't matter; beauty is subjective. But, perhaps it has made it this far in the face of so deleterious a species as the human being because of its beauty. Perhaps it will help save woodlands and streambanks from the pressures we put on their native ecosystem types.

Then again, maybe its beauty has led to it being planted elsewhere in the world, outside of its native range. And, maybe now, like other plants that have performed similar feats, it has become invasive somewhere and loathed by native plant community defenders elsewhere in the world. I am pleased that a quick google for "tellima grandiflora invasive" only yielded results indicating that fringecups is a desired plant that must be saved from invasives. 

At any rate, when I encountered a few individuals of this species on the Miwok Trail a few miles from my house, I was faced with a challenge. I only had one lens -- a 90mm. But I wanted to get as close to the flower as possible. I got a few individuals from many angles. On the one below, I took four separate shots and changed the focus as I stood above it. I started at the bottom and began focusing my way up the top. Light was limited and I had no tripod, so I needed to keep my shutter speed no slower than 1/60 second. So I opened up my aperture all the way and embraced my narrow depth of field (could that be a metaphor for something?).

Then, after developing my film and receiving my photos on CD from Photoworks SF,  I combined the four images into an animated.gif with the free software PhotoScape. (The animation repeats continuously.)

Tellima DOF GIF, Marin County, February 2015.

For the full length HD link to PBS' documentary adaptation of Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire -- click here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Glitterpoop at Oakwood Valley

Watch out, Beardog! That's glitterpoop!

It makes me chuckle to think that there is a person out there who does this. He or she embarks on their regular hike at Oakwood Valley with a glitter dispenser and a keen eye for rogue dog poops. Those that catch his or her eye get a little sprinkle. 

I have only seen this here, on this particular Marin County trail, and I have seen it done for a few years. 

Is this:
1) A citizen's arrest of sorts, calling out irresponsible dog owners who don't tend their pets' excrement?

2) art/protest?

3)  another form of littering?

You decide. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cool Yard Mushrooms

In response to the rain from two weeks ago, a couple of cool mushrooms have popped up in the yard.

Catey discovered this one, growing in a dirt scrape under our front porch where Beardog often prefers to hang out. It is probably one of the cooler places of our yard, but always dry. I think this mushroom is still emerging and may have to wait to identify it. The closest I can come up with is shaggy mane, Coprinus comatus. 

Next up, emerging under a pine in our yard which had a small crop of these two years ago, is what I believe is Amanita muscaria. 

It will also be fun to watch this one mature, providing the squirrels or skunks don't get to it again. The reddish color should intensify and it should continue to have white spots. This is a famous mushroom.

Per Wikipedia:
"In remote areas of Lithuania Amanita muscaria has been consumed at wedding feasts, in which mushrooms were mixed with vodka." Sounds like quite a party!

UPDATE, 2/24:
I think they were both the same species, 
Amanita muscaria. One was eaten at the base of the stalk, and died. The other burgeons beautifully. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Odd dew on Poppies -- My first iPhone post

OK, a new era has truly begun as I sit here and post from my new iPhone.  After only a few weeks of ownership, this thing is changing my life. Catey just pointed this out, with a chuckle, as I sent her a web address I wanted to share with her via text message, no words spoken. (Would one consider this "over the Internet and through the room"?)

What does this mean for americanature? 

1. More frequent posts, most likely
2, Possibly some strange formatting and careless grammar. 
3. More reliance on digital photos. But I will continue to shoot film and post selected photos here, as previously. 

The above image shows a strange occurrence that has taken place on the poppies in our planter box lately. Each of the leaflets has tiny droplets on them. It may be hard to see this in the photo, but I did my best. 

I assume this is a method the plant has of regulating moisture, but I can't imagine why. We are in a record warm spell, and despite December rains heavy enough to cause widespread flooding, the winter has been very dry. These plants. Like the rest of our backyard natives, receive occasional dish rinse water, but have not lately; their soil is very dry. 

Any ideas out there as to what this phenomenon might be?