Friday, July 8, 2011

Identify Them Thar Flowers, Kids

I had this brilliant plan.

I am not good at identifying star constellations, pine trees, birds, fishes, insects, rocks... pretty much anything.  But it seems like everyone gets to impress people with some intricate knowledge in the outdoors except for me.  Have you ever been around a person who hears a bird chirp and will tell you that it is the red-bellied meadow thrush or some shit?

Well, I want to be that person.

Picking at random, I want to be able to identify flowers in the mountains.

Bringing the flower identification book is a huge pain in the ass though, because it weighs about as much as  everything else in my pack combined. 

So I came up with this brilliant plan.

Are you ready for this?

OK.  I was going to take pictures of flowers, and then look them up in my handy dandy book later, at my leisure back home, while sipping a beer and feeling smart.  I even went so far as to make a mental note as to where each picture was taken, how big the flowers were, and anything else I could think of that would help me to identify them later.

So here you go.


  • Some kind of orchid, maybe?  Does Colorado have orchids?  I think I will name this one, "Attacked by a hoard of screaming mosquitoes so I couldn't sit still long enough to get a good picture" flower.  Screw you.
Yeah, this is going to work
  • This flower can survive being submerged in icy snowmelt water for at least part of the day.  Are you a water lily of some kind?
Let's call this a "Marsh Marigold".  I guess.   (Caltha leptosepala)  Maybe. The book does say it blooms close to receding snowbanks and in wet places high in the mountains.  Doesn't say anything about "underwater" though.  This is also known as "Elk's Lip" for some vague and arcane reason.
  • Wait, are you the same flower as above in a different color?  Wait, you are different?  Try being more individual next time.
A "Globeflower", (Trollius laxus) it also likes wet places in the mountains.  Duh.
  • The most boring flower in the world.
"Heartleaved Bittercress" is in the mustard family, which I guess makes it slightly more interesting because I really like mustard.  (Cardamine cordifolia)  Alpine stream banks and blah blah blah, yup.  That's totally it.
  • Scratch the above.  THIS is the most boring flower in the world.
This flower is apparently too boring to exist.  It's not listed.  Therefore, it doesn't exist.  It's like bigfoot, only much, much plainer.
  • Actually pretty, although a little small, really.  Try getting bigger next time.
I was going to say this looked like a violet.  It's called a "Blue Violet", which is kind of funny because that's just two color names.  (Viola adunca)  Or some hybrid because they cross breed easily, the little sluts.  Also known as a "shrinking violet" because it is all pretending to be shy.  We know what you're really like, no need to be coy.
  • I can fly!  I am also a complete mystery!
Yeah, seriously, no idea.  Maybe it hasn't actually bloomed yet.
  • WHAT ARE YOU?  There are only a million billion of you on the side of the hill here, and NOT ONE open bloom?  Not ONE  overachiever?  Well, fuck you, flower.  Fuck you.  I hope you get eaten by a moose.
"Kinnikinnick" maybe?   (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) The book says it's a "creeper", which totally works in my mind.  This flower is also known as "Bearberry".    THAT'S comforting.  It grows on the coast OR in the high mountains.  Make up your mind already.  Apparently it has a medicinal use of being able to control sexually transmitted diseases.  Who knew?
  • Shit, I guess I did take a good picture of this flower later.  What do you know, it IS an orchid.  Did I call it or what?  I am frickin' amazing.
"Calypso", or "Fairy Slipper".   (Calypso bulbosa) Apparently fairies have strange feet.
  • EW!  A bug!
This might be a "Heartleaf Arnica" which is the the sunflower family.  Like an idiot, I didn't get a picture of the leaves,  and there are a lot of yellow flowers that look similar to this one.   (Arnica cordifolia)  If I'm right, and I am usually right, right? it lives pretty much everywhere in the west.  I think I'll just call it a "wild sunflowery thingy that flies like".
Yeah, I'm totally an expert.

Maybe I need to get a good map of star constellations next.  Or edible mushrooms.

Also, I keep saying "kinnikinnick".  "Kinnikinnick!"  "Kinnikinnick!"  Kinda fun.  Except now the word is kind of stuck in my head, like a song without a tune.   "Kinnikinnick!"

Stupid kinnikinnick.


Curriculum for Kids said...

Lovely photography and awesome pictures.

hoodyhoo said...

You don't actually have to LEARN to identify flowers/bird calls/what-have-you... just make sure none of your friends do. Then when you say, "Oh, that's a lovely specimen of Pileated Wonkwonk Herring Gull whatever-the-hell" THEY THINK YOU'RE A GENIUS!

LeeAnn said...

(to the tune of Oh Canada)

Kinnikinnick! Oh kinnikinnick!
You creep along my hillsides!
Oh kinnikinnick, oh kinnikinnick!
You cure my std'd insides!

You might get eaten by a moose.
You cure the sluts who acted loose.
Oh kinnikinnick, oh kinnikinnick!
There are a billion of you.

Oh kinnikinnick, oh kinnikinnick!
We called you a bearberry.
Oh kinnikinnick, oh kinnikinnick!
Do we love you? Not very.

On upper reach or lower down.
You make us want to go back to town.
And buy a rake, and hack you up.
Oh kinnikinnick, you suck.

Leauxra said...

Curriculum for Kids: Thank you!

hoodyhoo: No, no, YOU are the genius. Although, I think this will only work on non-edible things. Might be... interesting if I just make it up with mushrooms.

LeeAnn: HOLY CRAP! YOU WROTE ME A POEM? I don't even know what to say. You are AMAZING. You win the commenter award yesterday and today. I will pay tribute soon, I promise.

Julia said...

Ha you should see my yard! I bought seeds last year that my son decided to randomly sprinkle (combo veggie/flowers) so last year the cucumbers took over and nothing else grew...this year my garden filled right up. I thought I would wait let it grow and see what would come up... you know what they are? WEEDS... tones and tones of weeds

Leauxra said...

Julia, weeds are just plants that people don't like. I say you identify the so-called weeds outside and say, "Yeah, that's my thistle garden" (or whatever the majority of the plants are). People will think you did it on PURPOSE.

Angie said...

Excellent idea on the thistle garden! "I felt the holly hocks were getting a little pompous so I decided to accent them with a little nightshade and milkweed to offset them. Didn't they just turn out fabulous? They really thrive in this soil!"

Your pics look fantastic!

middle child said...

Ok. So the flowers apparently suck in Co. But the beauty of the mountains and streams more than make up for that. BTW - I can't recall who's blog it was but you commented on the dog training and then telling the 2 yr. old to SIT! That made me laugh out loud which is not an easy feat.

peter said...

look @ that flowers so good .. what a shots.! good:)

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