Given that I am often looking to eat the plants at which I am looking, plant identification is more than just an amusement.
There's a certain urgency in figuring out if it's wild carrot (puny, but tasty) or hemlock (deadly).
At the farm, I spend chunks of daylight bent over my reference books, or –– in deference to the small, specific spot of cell coverage –– sitting on a rock in the middle of the field bent over the iPad.
For the first time I can remember –– would that be a telling detail? –– I am having vocabulary troubles.
Plant identification, like most biology, starts with the correct terminology to describe any plant's growth habits. Is it a dicot or monocot? How do the veins grow in the leaves? How do leaves grow on the stem, what do the leaves look like?
Bracts. Pinneately compound whorled. Lobed petolate. Oval sessate...The words seem slippery, and I keep having to flip back to the definitions again and again.
When I was a googly-eyed junior in high school, being all moony and swoony over my equally googly-eyed boyfriend, our biology teacher, Mr. V. would shake his head at the sight of us two and mutter under his breath, "Two smarts equal dummy."
Oh, Mr. V., even just the one sometimes equals dummy!
Here's a few of the unknowns: