Thursday, June 24, 2010

One more thing...

I wanted to add a photo from the latest "Walk on the Wild Side". We discussed "weeds", what that term really means, how plants become known as weeds, etc. In the photo, we're examining what for all the world looks like a clear case of bio-mimicry, or an organism trying really hard to look like another organism. The plant in my left hand is Duchesnea indica, or Indian Strawberry. The plant in my right is Fragaria virginiana, or Virginia Strawberry. The Fragaria is a native species we would hunt for in the fields and wood edges to make wild strawberry jam. The Duchesnea is a non-native species that looks like Fragaria in almost every respect, but has a fruit you wouldn't want to eat. My guess is that part of Duchesnea's success at establishing itself in our gardens and becoming "weedy" has to do with effectively fooling animal foragers as to it's true identity and duping them into eating it and spreading Duchesnea seeds about. Very tricky, you sneaky little plant, you!

As an aside, look at the name after the italicized Latin at the top of each of the linked pages for the plants. Duchesne is the person credited with first describing the Virginia Strawberry, and as a result you'll notice his/her last name after Fragaria virginiana. The individual who first described Duchesnea indica, a Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Focke, obviously paid homage to Duchesne, the person who named the plant the Duchesnea tries so hard to resemble, by naming the plant after them.

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