by Melanie Bettinelli on August 27, 2008
It’s taken me some time to get going; but here is my first entry for the 100 Species Challenge.
I was positive that the tree in our yard was a variety of magnolia, but I didn’t know what species it was. And I discovered that Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species (Wikipedia: magnolia). So I had a little detective work to do. I do know that it isn’t the same as either the magnolias I knew from Texas (magnolia grandiflora) or the ones I’d seen in Boston (I think those are the hybrid Magnolia × soulangeana or saucer magnolia).
Magnolia tripetala, commonly called Umbrella magnolia, is a deciduous tree native to the southeastern United States in the Appalachian Mountains region. Umbrella magnolias have large shiny leaves 30-50 cm long, spreading from stout stems. In a natural setting the Umbrella magnolia can grow 15 m tall. The flowers are large, 15-25 cm diameter, with six to nine creamy-white petals and a large red style, which later develops into a red fruit 10 cm long, containing several red seeds.
These trees are attractive and easy to grow. The leaves will turn yellow in the autumn. It is also sometimes known as ‘Umbrella tree’.
Pictures I took this spring and last fall. I thought I had a picture of the flower, but I guess not.
Fun facts about magnolias:
- The genus is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol.
- Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles.
- Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals. The term tepal has been coined to refer to the intermediate element that Magnolia has instead.
by Melanie Bettinelli on August 12, 2008
I’ve sort of informally been interested in identifying our local flora and fauna for some time and have been taking pictures and posting them; but have only been half-hearted about identification. I haven’t been going about it in any sort of systematic way and thus the project languishes for lack of structure. This seems like an ideal way to give it some shape, a specific goal to strive towards and a form of accountability to keep me from slacking off too badly (I hope!). Anyway, here are the rules from the originator, scsours over at xanga:
The Official Rules:
The 100-Species Challenge
1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge. I will make a sidebar list of anyone who notifies me that they are participating in the Challenge.
2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant’s home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.
3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears. My format will be as follows: the numbered list, with plants making their first appearance on the list in bold; each plant making its first appearance will then have a photograph taken by me, where possible, a list of information I already knew about the plant, and a list of information I learned subsequent to starting this challenge, and a list of information I’d like to know. (See below for an example.) This format is not obligatory, however, and participants can adapt this portion of the challenge to their needs and desires.
4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.
5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.
6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two—“camillia” if not).
7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge. You can make it as quick or as detailed a project as you like. I’m planning to blog a minimum of two plants per week, complete with pictures and descriptions as below, which could take me up to a year. But you can do it in whatever level of detail you like.
I’m going to “cheat” a little and start out with identifying and listing the photos I’ve already taken in the past year.
I can’t do a sidebar list; but I’ll label each post as “100 Species” so it will appear in the Categories list which is already in the sidebar. I’m going to bend rule #2 a little bit. I think I’ll just keep one list, a sort of index, and link to it from every new entry. I think it will keep each blog entry neater and keep me saner if I don’t repeat the information every time.
I’m not sure what level of detail I will strive for. Or if I’ll be at all consistent. I know I’m not going to set a specific day to post or a weekly goal or anything that will likely discourage me if I fail to meet it. Just try to add to it when I remember to take the camera with me for a walk and as I have the time and energy to look up the information. After all this is a pursuit for just me myself and I—though the girls will benefit from it down the road—and I’m working against the kids not with them in that time I devote to this challenge, except for the outdoors looking at plants stuff, is time I’m not doing activities with them.
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