Feb 12, 2010

Finding Flowers and Mapping Weeds

I took a bit of a winter break from the posting but am finding renewed energy as the days get a bit longer. I couldn't bring myself to write another piece on the woes of Christmas consumerism .... It happened. I saw it. I didn't engage so why should I have to talk about it?

In lieu of shopping I've been out in the parks as always. It's been very exciting to see the first native wildflowers germinate, bud, and bloom.
This is a Johnny Jump-Up (Viola pedunculata) on Bayview Hill on Jan 10 2010. It's the first one I've seen anywhere in the city.
This is a partial list from Bernal Hill, where I walk dogs. I spend enough time there to see phenology at work. In order of their appearance:

Footsteps of Spring (Sanicula arctopoides)
First flower: Jan 5 2010 
Full Bloom: Jan 30 2010

Lomatium caruifolium
First Flower: ~ Jan 12 2010
Full Bloom: Feb 5 2010

California Buttercup (Ranunculus californica)
First Flower: ~ Jan 18 2010
Full Bloom: ???

Star lily (Zigadenus fremontii)
First Flower: Feb 9 2010

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii)
First Flower: Feb 9 2010

Also blooming are the more subtle Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia) and a weedy native, Cardamine oligosperma. Some other plants have germinated but are waiting to flower.

I collected a bunch of seed off of my plants and any samples I took in the field over the summer. I planted those a couple of months ago in my backyard and in containers. I've got about 15 lomatiums, 12 lupines, 2 columbines, 25 phacelia, and hopefully some yarrow and grindelia yet to come. I had more but a massive snail attack decimated my stock. That's what I get for moving the nursery into the garden to shelter through a storm! I'm giving them away so if you're in SF and need some outdoor plants, lemme know.

Lots of invasives are coming in as well. This puts my mapping contract back in high gear as I plot Oxalis pes caprae on a nifty handheld GPS in 3 parks across SF. I've seen my friend the Twin Peaks brush rabbit twice in the past week, bringing my total sightings to 3 in 7 months, which is pretty stellar considering folks thought they'd been extirpated.

When I'm not mapping weeds I'm eating them. Don't forget the invasive species diet! I saw "dandelion greens" for sale at the grocery store today and laughed outloud. I just pick them myself and add them to salad. Toss radish flowers on top and it looks quite pretty. I don't pick the Miner's Lettuce b/c it's native. But I do eat a  lot of the mustard greens that are quite tender and tasty at the moment. Oxalis is also called sour grass, very yummy! I find that eating invasives gives me a chance to enjoy them, unlike when I map them with plain resentment and muddled anxiety.

In addition to eating invasives, I've been exploring a bit of herbalism. Mostly I've been reading about controlling my asthma, which kicked off hardcore about a month ago. My flat got a bit moldy when the rains came. I've never had asthma like this but I'm happy to say I'm finally getting some relief with a combination of herbs and western meds.

As it happens, my incredibly vivacious grindelia plant will come to new use this year as I dry the gummy buds for lung healing tinctures. A good friend told me to try it, which I did after about a week of ho humming about how I'd wait until I could make my own. Alas, this one is a very late bloomer so I bought a tincture. While I was at Rainbow I grabbed some Osha on the same friend's recommendation. As I've heard it, Osha translates to "bear root" in a local/regional indigenous language. Bears would eat it when they came out of hibernation to help expel their mucus. Lemme tell you, bears are hardcore. That shit inspires severe fit of coughing, but productive coughing. I'm using invasives for my asthma too. I snag eucalyptus leaves to boil so I can breathe the fumes and drink a bit of the oil. If you're thinking, "yuck" you're right.


Beth! said...

he invasives sound delicious - I need to learn more about the plants here in Denmark. it's already scary enough knowing which mushrooms are safe :)

Tina said...

Hi Rachel, thanks for sharing your plant knowledge with us. There is a free plant encyclopedia (like Wikipedia, but for plants) out there that I thought you'd enjoy if you don't know about it yet, and perhaps you can share some of your knowledge there as well and help build the free encyclopedia of plants... it's at http://www.gardenology.org

And really, the compact is so so great. If people could just see how it liberating it is to leave behind consumerism and clutter, everyone would do it!

Margaret said...

Great to see you posting again. I was worried about how you were getting on over the winter.

Lily Rose said...

Hai! images are good, concept of the article helps to develop knowledge!!!