Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Worm's-eye view

When we parked at Centennial beach last week, a man was cutting the grass on the dividers with one of those big riding mowers, looking bored. Back and forth, around the signposts, down to the end and back again, shaving a mere half-inch or so off the top; no challenge in it. I would have been yawning, too, and I'm not easily bored.

When we returned, he was gone. The grass didn't look much changed. While I waited for Laurie to de-boot and re-shoe, I sat on the curb and looked at the two-inch-high plants sharing the divider with the grass and clover.

Common storksbill. The leaves are hairy, fern-like, the flowers 5 petalled, short-lived. The seeds grow in long, pointed capsules, taller than the rest of the plant.

"As the fruits dry, they split lengthwise into 5 sharp-pointed segments, each attached to its portion of the separated style. The slender style becomes spirally twisted as it dries, but it straightens out again when wet. With alternate moisture and dryness, this uncoiling squirming action drives the attached seed into the ground." (From Plants of Coastal British Columbia, Pojar & MacKinnon)

Another view of the leaves. After being crushed by the mower, they are straightening up again.

A seedling ribbed plantain with hairy leaves. This may never get a chance to flower; they bloom at the top of tall spikes, which will get mowed down.

I pity the poor guy up on his high mower; all he sees from up there is a green fuzz.

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