Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I don't have a clever title for this

Tulip Magnolia
51. Tulip Magnolia
Already knew: Native to the South, this Magnolia has giant tulip shaped flowers that are white or pink. It blooms a few weeks later then the Star Magnolia does. In this climate, it is deciduous, but in warmer places it keeps it's leaves all year.
Recently learned: Magnolias evolved before bees, so it developed to be pollinated by beetles, which is why all parts of the flower are as tough as they are. The tulip magnolia is not actually the Magnolia that is so common in the south. Those have large flat flowers.


Mint
52. Mint
Already knew: Ants and Walker don't like mint, so if you have an Ant problem you can put mint leaves around the entrance holes and they will stop coming in. This won't work as well if you want to keep Walker out, he'll probably just step over it. Dried Mint leaves can be used as a tea, and it's popular in drinks and desserts. This is not Spearmint, which has spear shaped leaves. You can chew on the raw leaves as a quick way to freshen your breath.
Recently learned: Mint likes cool, moist places in partial shade. It grows quickly and spreads itself well enough that it can be invasive in some places. Growing mint from seed is hit or miss, because some mint species are sterile, and others will not necessarily grow the same kind of mint it originated from, instead you should cut runners from healthy plants and plant those.
Rhubarb
53. Rhubarb
Already knew: This is technically a vegetable because the part you eat is the stem of the plant, but it is considered a fruit and is especially good with strawberries in a pie, and since they are ripe at the same time, it's obviously meant to be. It is has a sour taste, especially raw. You can tell that it's ready to eat when it loses that totally red color and looks more like a Fuji apple in color. It has large triangular leaves, which shade the stems, so it can sometimes be hard to spot.
Recently learned: The leaves are toxic. This is likely one of two species, Garden Rhubarb, or False Rhubarb. Which is actually a Rhubarb. I can find no info on how it got that name.
Shamrock
54. Oxalis
Already knew: Oxalis is frequently sold as Shamrock for St Patricks Day in this country. I certainly thought it was what Shamrocks really looked like. It is a beautiful ground cover though, with big fat incredibly green leaf clusters and tiny white flowers. It shows up in early March. It is related to the Field Daisy.
Recently learned: It is also called Wood Sorrel. Many plants in the Oxalis family cantain Oxalic acid (hence the name) which in small amounts aids digestion and kidney function and can be toxic in large amounts.
Heath Violet
55. Heath Violet
Already knew: This is a low slung herbaceous plant with small purple flowers and velvety leaves. This version grows less in clumps and more in a big spread of plant, at least in this climate.
Recently learned: Also called Heath Dog Violet. It is a member of the Viola family which includes the Pansy. They are all edible.

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