Color Vision and Plants

Are plants responsible for our color vision? Niel Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body” is an engaging exploration of evolution through a personal lens: our own bodies. Shubin creatively connects us to all past and present life by revealing the evolutionary history […]

Flagstaff Fall Festival Cornucopia

Summer feels like a fading memory in Northern Arizona. The past few days have been dry, cold, and windy. Grasses are ripening to yellow in the prairie wind and on the mountains above, aspens make their own transitions to quaking gold. Despite my chilled fingers and toes, I love our […]

Earth Wisdom and Cultivating Place

I’ve been following Jennifer Jewell‘s Cultivating Place on Instagram for some time now, but only recently listened to the podcast. I was immediately transported to my listening space of On Being with Krista Tippett. Not only is Jewell’s voice and tone similar to Tippett’s, Jewell began the interview of the […]

Red Baraat inspires celebration of spring colors

In the March 13th NPR Tiny Desk Concert video, Red Baraat frontman Sunny Jain introduces the band, saying “we’re here presenting Holi, the festival of colors. It’s a Hindu holiday, a celebration, a commemoration of Hindu mythology, of victory of good over evil. And also a rejoicing with family, friends, and strangers in an array of colors.”

There is so much color and energy in this inspiring concert! The contrast of their white clothing covered in colorful swirls of flowers complements the music so well. Plus, the confetti and scarves are a blast! Dancing to their music was a wonderful way to welcome the season of renewed growth- I can feel that energy on the Prairie as spring continues to blow into Northern Arizona.

Red Baraat’s enthusiasm inspired me to illustrate Pedicularis centranthera, known commonly as betony and dwarf lousewort. These herbs in the Orobanchaceae Family bloom in early spring. Each plant’s inflorescence nestles within their exuberantly shaped leaves, which are referred to in botanical nomenclature as pinnatifid with broad, obtuse lobes and crenate-dentate margins with white tipped teeth.

Sketching P. centranthera, 05/18/2017

P. centranthera flowers and leaves display a fantastic variety of colors from cool, minty tea-green to deep, dark violet-mahogany (in Prismacolor marker pigments!).

Pedicularis centranthera leaf, 05/11/2017

The colors and shapes of these low-growing perennials signal the beginning of spring for me in Northern AZ. Right now, these little plants are fruiting in the xerophytic forests of ponderosa pine/Arizona fescue where I live and work.

Close-up of sketchbook page of P. centranthera, 05/18/2017

Glossary of Botanical Terms

crenate: with a round-toothed or scalloped edge or margin

dentate: toothed or serrated

flower: in angiosperms, the structure concerned with sexual reproduction, consisting of the *androecium (male organs) and *gynoecium (female organs), commonly surrounded by a *corolla (petals) and *calyx (sepals). The male and female parts may be in the same flower or in separate flowers.

fruit: the ripened ovary of a plant and its contents. More loosely, the term is extended to the ripened ovary and seeds together with any structure with which they are combined, e.g. the apple, a *pome, in which the true fruit (core) is surrounded by flesh derived from the floral *receptacle (that part of the stem from which all the parts of the flower arise).

herb: a small, non-woody seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.

inflorescence: a flowering structure that consists of more than a single flower.

leaf: a thin, usu. green expanded organ borne at a node on the stem of a plant, typically comprising a *petiole (stalk) and *blade (lamina) and subtending a bud in the axil of the petiole. The leaves are usu. the main site of photosynthesis. Sometimes in classification, the term is restricted to the leaves that are *diploid (having two sets of chromosomes) structures of the *sporophyte (the spore producing generation in the life cycle of plants).

margin: edge

perennial: a plant that normally lives for more than 2 seasons and, after an initial period, produces flowers annually.

pinnate: *compound (applied to flowers or leaves that have two or more parts), with leaflets displayed on either side of a central stalk or *rachis.

pinnatifid: applied to leaves that are *pinnately divided, but not all the way down to the rachis.

pome: fruit in which the seeds are protected by a touch carpel wall and the entire fruit is embedded in a fleshy receptacle. In an apple, the carpel wall surrounding the seeds comprises the core, which is the true fruit.

rachis: the axis that bears the flower or, if the plant has compound leaves, the leaflets

References and Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of Plant Sciences (3rd ed., 2006). Oxford, NY.

Field Guide to Forest & Mountain Plants of Northern Arizona (1st ed., 2009)Springer, J. D., Daniels, M. L., Nazaire, M. Flagstaff, Arizona: Ecological Restoration Initiative.

Plant Families Project Re-energized

Hi all! The “plant families” project is re-envisioned and re-energized! I got so excited about Selaginella, the genus Selaginellaceae is named after, I kept putting off publishing in favor of writing something long and in depth. Full disclosure, though, filling the post with detailed research and informative illustrations weren’t the only […]

The San Francisco Peaks: Landscapes of the Coconino National Forest

When I describe my last few seasonal jobs, I say I’m incredibly lucky to get paid to hike and look at plants. For the past few years, I’ve worked on the Flagstaff Ranger District Botany Crew on the Coconino National Forest. We collected population data on the geographical extent and abundance […]

Mama Terra Art Exhibit

Announcing Mama Terra, the first time my work will be exhibited: On Friday, May 6, the Matter(s) Collective, a group of nine artists, will be presenting a multimedia art exhibit, Mama Terra, in celebration of Mother Earth. The exhibit will be held during the First Friday Artwalk at b.e. Yoga Center, […]