we went to the bowling alley and victory lane (the bar next to the prairie river marsh)
ellen’s parents- since the kids live in milwaukee, chicago, and a mill town down south – have moved into my grandparents’ old house on riverside avenue in merrill, wi. large white pines grow on the steep sloped embankment (70% grade? it was too dark to tell, i’m assuming based on canoeing trips past it) that leads to the wisconsin river, not 2 or 3 km from the damn. the red house paint, the bricks in place for the growing of plants near the front door…. i only knew it from pictures, but i recognized it. my grandma sold it after my grandfather died, which was right before i was born.
ellen has a blind dog and charming siblings.
and christmas themed plants…
Did you know that the red “flowers”of the poinsetta plant are not flowers but modified leaf bracts? Poinsettias are in the Euphorbiaceae, or Spurge family, a group that is characterized by the oft present bracts and a milky, often toxic, latex sap. the plants also are unisexual! with the female (pistillate) and male (staminate) flowers occuring on the same plant. the ovary is always positioned superior, and it consist of 3 (or 4 or 5) united carpels with partition walls.
This native-to-Mexico spurge, Euphorbia pulcherrima is also a “long-night” plant, meaning that it forms flowers and its bracts change color as the day light hours lessen (read: it needs the long, dark hours of fall and late summer to produce its awesome red bracts and make cycathium). this response is called light/darkness is called photoperiodism. if you were to pulse an artificial light on the plants in the dead of the night the plant would not produce flowers. however, as much of the darkness that this plant needs, it also requires bright sunlight to have the brightest red colouring.
the poinsettias are in the tribe Euphorbieae and the subtribe Euphorbiinae (genera Euphorbia, hence Euphorbia pulcherrima) which are characterized by a non-flower infloresence called a cyathium. great pics of this modified “non-flower” are here: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/terminf2.htm
the abies genus
the Pinaceae family.
uplands, lowlands, riparian lands
in the actual river
on the actual cliffs….
have we seen
in the gila wilderness in new mexico
but now there’s one in my living room!
and in many across the country
Abies balsamea (balsam)
found in northern and boreal forests to 1700 m
Trees to 23m; trunk to 0.6m diam.; crown spirelike. Bark gray, thin, smooth, in age often becoming broken into irregular brownish scales. Branches diverging from trunk at right angles, the lower often spreading and drooping; twigs mostly opposite, greenish brown, pubescence sparse. Buds hidden by leaves or exposed, brown, conic, small, resinous, apex acute; basal scales short, broad, nearly equilaterally triangular, glabrous, resinous, margins entire, apex sharp-pointed. Leaves 1.2–2.5cm ´ 1.5–2mm, 1-ranked (particularly on lower branches) to spiraled, flexible; cross section flat, grooved adaxially; odor pinelike (copious ß-pinene); abaxial surface with (4–)6–7(–8) stomatal rows on each side of midrib; adaxial surface dark green, slightly or not glaucous, with 0–3 stomatal rows at midleaf, these more numerous toward leaf apex; apex slightly notched to rounded; resin canals large, ± median, away from margins, midway between abaxial and adaxial epidermal layers. Pollen cones at pollination red, purplish, bluish, greenish, or orange. Seed cones cylindric, 4–7 ´ 1.5–3cm, gray-purple, turning brown before scale shed, sessile, apex round to obtuse; scales ca. 1–l.5 ´ 0.7–1.7cm (relationship reversed in more western collections), pubescent; bracts included or exserted and reflexed over scales. Seeds 3–6 ´ 2–3mm, body brown; wing about twice as long as body, brown-purple; cotyledons ca. 4. 2 n =24. Boreal and northern forests; 0–1700m; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask.; Conn., Iowa, Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.Y., Pa., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis. Balsam fir is frequently segregated into two varieties (e.g., H.J. Scoggan 1978–1979) based on whether the bracts are included (var. balsamea ) or exserted (var. phanerolepis Fernald), the latter considered by Liu T. S. (1971) to be a hybrid between Abies balsamea and A . fraseri . D.T. Lester (1968) demonstrated, however, that bract length may vary within a cone, annually, and from tree to tree. Nevertheless, a tendency exists for the exserted variety to be found most commonly from Newfoundland south through New England (R.C. Hosie 1969; B.F. Jacobs et al. 1984); it is not found west of Ontario. Western populations lack 3-carene and have other minor chemical differences separating them from eastern balsam fir (E.Zavarin and K.Snajberk 1972; R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1974). Morphologic variation in balsam fir has been studied mainly east of Ontario; the populations to the west have been ignored for the most part, although they may yield stronger evidence for species subdivision. In Alberta, populations intermediate between western Abies balsamea and A . bifolia (E.H. Moss 1953; R.S. Hunt and E.von Rudloff 1974, 1979) may be classified as A . balsamea ´ bifolia . In West Virginia and Virginia, populations of balsam fir tend to be more similar to A . fraseri than are more northern populations (B.F. Jacobs et al. 1984).
Merry Tree decorating!
Being so starved and
but if you cut
in the patio
the birds will have
and they can begin to settle in.
you can’t stay to mend
the broken tiles
and I can’t stay
to cook you fish
or make you tea
or yell at you to clean your hair from the tub
or to come out from hiding
to at least have a toast, a coffee or cigarette.
and you can’t cut my hair
other days, but today you
can ask me about my family
and rub your hands over the shortened hairs
and pretend for a moment
that you are a sister
and I, a brother
and that we could