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Archive for October, 2009

All tubs on the picture below are radishes, the big one isn’t a turnip but a true radish root, from a giant variety. I really enjoy neighbouring organic farms, and moreover that the farmers decided to fill their market gardens with many rare vegetables and roots. They offer a great diversity and of course, increase tentation of buying more vegs than actually needed in the kitchen (which is probably healthier ‘foraging’ for the family afterall). I like the darker twilight purple radishes too, but now there’s a new caracteristics to test for, in addition to age and size, whenever taste is differing. Hum, maybe I’ll go with Halloween radishes instead of pumpkins!

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Ouch

Gosh, the very interesting things (or is it sting?) in comparative linguitics trying to learn languages, is that you eventually will find striking differences. Sometimes. English has many more words than my mother tongue (French — ca. 200,000 vs 90,000), and I often get confused by the fact a single word can translate differently (well, it happens more often from French > English but the reverse also sometimes occurs). Kind of slowing down conversation, because you have to make a distinction where you’re used to make none (which doesn’t mean you’re not able to strike it, e.g. French doesn’t have a specific name for ape but uses monkey, in a more general meaning, instead).

Sometimes you’re left wondering if all these differences do really have an importance or if they are just arbitrary or only of poetic origin. Here’s today lot. To my surprise, this is not about synonymy at all:

Thorns are modified branches or stems, spines are modified leaves, and prickles are needle-like extensions of the cortex and epidermis.

(From Wikipedia, more precisely here). That’s amazing to see that the use of these different words imply a sophisticated knowledge of botany, or at least good observational skills. How are you supposed to speak, when you don’t have a branch of the plant you’d like to talk about in front of you?

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This is the fourth and last post on BBB09 here at Seeds Aside this year (you can reach #1, #2, #3, and even previous years following the links). Today we’ll sum up species met during a quick halt near the Couesnon river, next to Mézière sur Couesnon (satellite map).

Apple trees in a meadow invaded by Bracken ferns

Apple trees in a meadow invaded by Bracken ferns

This area is an underwood slope leading to the Couesnon riverbanks (actually, unused meadows slowing reverting to forest first). The trail begins with Apples (Malus domestica). The country is full of such trees (hedges are overcrowded sometimes), and these are mostly undetermined old population/varieties used to make hard cider (a regional specialty).

Most common local tree species are growing in there, so I count back Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur), Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa), and Common Hazel (Corylus avellana), to which I add bushes of the European Holly (Ilex aquifolium) — all Hollies had a very low reproductive success there, as I didn’t see any berry. Since the species is dioecious (males and females), this means either sex was short in the population, or that pollinators were not that interested. Actually, this is quite in contrast to a

Cliff that rocks (with Quercus robur)

Cliff that rocks (with Quercus robur)

recent population I’ve seen, where females bore thousands of fruits (another extreme for this species).

Of course, I consider many other plants to be already on the BBB list, i.e. Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum, maybe the first plant in French Brittany), Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus), Rumex species,  Common Ivy (Hedera helix, the plant protected against automn sunburn), and… hum, grasses.

So the meadows transforms into underwood with sloppy slopes until the river. At places, you get cliffs instead. Best to follow the trail where it wants you to go, to avoid falling short.

Finally, there is the small river (it is very curious for sa long as it flows through northern Brittany, this river never really turns into a big one, but stays of a quite reasonnable size all way long).

The Couesnon River

The Couesnon River (with Alders: Alnus sp; and Beeches: Fagus sylvatica)

Let’s enter a divide now, but an ecological, not a taxonomic one… (more…)

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Okay, I did not identify these spiders (and I doubt I could –Well maybe an Araneus diadematus at top of the first picture below), but let”s this be part of BBB09. I was walking down the trail when I saw a Crane fly (there were plenty of them this morning) that was dancing in a very strange way.

Indeed. It wasn”t dancing. It was trying to escape from a spider web. Do you notice anything special?

Trying to escape from the spider web

Trying to escape from the spider web

(more…)

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So here is a first shoot for BBB09. Literally, because this is the opening for the hunting season, and shots were echoing from everywhere in the landscape. Hmm, bioblitzing is a dangerous activity in Fall!

Feins Hedged Farmland

Feins Hedged Farmland (wet meadows)

So our first spot is a hedged farmland area in French Brittany near the town of Feins (in the heartland, not the coasts). I was hoping for swampy places, as my map (well, dating back from the early 80’s though) had swamp symbols on that place. Instead, I got wet meadows but that’s for a good start. Much less muddy.

Satellite map, if you’re curious.

(more…)

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Just here. Got into the group selection multilevel selection posts, here and there… Guess why? :)

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Where does your potato come from? Me? Meh! Organic farms, since a few weeks…

Charlotte (top) and Vitelotte Noire (bottom): average size difference.

Charlotte (top) and Vitelotte Noire (bottom): average size difference.

Hum, why would the Blogger Bio Blitz be limited to wild species? So here are a few old (French) varieties of potatoes I got yesterday. This is the advantage of living in a rural place with a few organic farmers around: an excellent opportunity to meet old forgotten (and almost extinct for some) varieties. Something that would fulfill your curiosity for lost diversity. If you’re like me, you’ll get striked by marginal phenotypes and spend some time admiring this. (more…)

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