Sunday, May 1, 2011

Botanical quiz, 2 do list photo, & May Day Magic

To do list

So, what do you think this photo means bb needs to get done today, among other things?

May Day

Also, does anyone besides me wish May Day was a bigger deal?

I LOVE May Day.

The thought of a holiday celebrating (@ least for N. hemisphere) spring by, among other things, anonymously dropping off bouquets of flowers on people's front doors is lovely.

Flowers at a San Francisco farmer's market

And I STILL remember the magic of the Maypole dance as a kid. According to Wiki there is the ostensibly older "circle dance" and then there is a "ribbon" dance, which is what we did.

 Kids rehearsing the Maypole dance in 1910, Alabama. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.
BTW this is the only photo I found where the kids did it the way we did. a.k.a. "correctly." And, it could also be seen as a small tribute to the folks in Alabama, who have no doubt seen many, many better May Days than the one this year...

We were on the stage, every kid got a beautiful LONG, solid-colored ribbon, the different ribbons were sort of an Easter themed palette, & all were attached to the top of the May Pole, which we all stood around, starting a few yards from the pole so the ribbon was taut.

Then we did a simple dance. If the kids had been numbered, the "odd" ones would walk clockwise, passing on the left of the first person they faced (an "even" kid), then passing on the right of the 2nd person they face (another even kid), and repeat. And of course the even kids walk counter-clockwise, etc.

At the end, when the kids are eventually pulled to the pole by the tiny bit of ribbon they had left, the pole was magically cloaked in a beautiful thatch of colorful ribbons.


I remember looking up at it in wonder at the end, temporarily oblivious of the parents in the audience.

A budding color fiend.

Wiki describes the origin of traditional May Day:

"The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane."

So I look up Flora, and read:

"In Roman mythology, Flora was a goddess of flowers and the season of spring... Her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers."

And that date range includes both what is now May Day, May 1, and my birthday, so NICE!

And this all circles back to my to do list today.

Botanical quiz

My 1st task with the tome in the first picture is to confirm the species identification of this beauty:

I don't think I've EVER seen this before. Be sure to zoom in on the bottom flower. It's the one in focus, and is the rebel, not having 6 petals, like it's cohorts, but MORE. =) And check out the awesome stamen party going on there--woah!

So, got a clue that the genus was Meconella and its species name MIGHT be linearis, but thought I'd look it up. There are 2 other species in Meconella in Jepson: M. californica and M. denticulata.

If you read the descriptions for these 2, very early in each is the word "glabrous" when describing the plant. This word is not used for M. linearis.

Do you know if that adjective applies to this plant, based on the following photograph?

This is also a great example of why I photograph the leaves of the flowering plant, in addition to its flower, if I don't know what it is.

So, what's glabrous (without looking it up), and does the photo above show a "glabrous" plant, or no?

Per usual, I love any and all wild guesses as well as the fabulously erudite. However, of course, the latter will be posted LATER so more folks have a chance to guess outside of the glare of your shining brilliance.


Happy May Day!




  1. If I recall correctly (that's a pretty big if) I think it means 'hairy'. I took a couple botany classes in undergrad and I remember being unimpressed with this word... I just didn't think it was a very pretty word, which is probably why I don't remember its meaning very well. :)

  2. I use the phrase "drab-glab" to remind myself it means no hairs. I'm sitting here trying to key out a larkspur but your plant looks like a creamcups, Platystemon species which is in the same genus as Meconella. I photographed and keyed out one of our coastal creamcups P. californicus last week and it has hairy leaves, stem, and sepals. Not sure which one you have in your area cuz I'm too lazy to go inside to get my Jepson. See for my photos of our local creamcups. Happy May Day.

  3. Yes, I remember May Day, fondly...we used to fill those green plastiic strawberry baskets with flowers after we had woven ribbons through the baskets. Then we'd set them on the porches of all the older ladies in the neighborhood, ring the doorbell and run away. My Mom was the ringleader of this mischief.

    Fleshy, perhaps? Glabrous sounds like it might be puffy or thick as well as hairy which I believe is hirsute. I'll wait to look it up after you tell. hahaha And please don't bury your book...

  4. Glabrous means hairless, so, your plant is not glabrous.Glabra is Latin for smooth actually.

  5. Hi bb, was looking at your new plant page. Do you not want comments on your page? You can turn those on if you wish. Anywho... how did you decide this was Meconella linearis and not Platystemon californicus? Even after looking at Jepson, I'm flummoxed.


Cool people write inside rectangles....