Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Hundred Species Challenge!

While I was teaching reading this summer, Sarah over at Homeschooling the Doctorate, began the 100 -Species Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to compile a list of 100 species of plants that can be found within walking distance of home. The rules to the challenge can be found at the link above.
I informally started my list a few Nearly Wordless Wednesdays ago, in a post called August Wildflowers at Sedillo, but I did not number the list, so I will do that first:
1. Helianthus neomexicanus, New Mexico Sunflowers
2. Erigeron compositus, Cutleaf Daisy
3. Physalis ixocarpa, Tomatilla
4. Melitotis Officialis, Sweet Clover
5. Bouteloua gracilis, Blue Grama Grass
6. Gilia aggregata, Scarlet Gilia
7. Sphaeralcea var., Globemallow
I am intending to do at least two Nearly Wordless Wednesday Posts per month that include pictures of the plants I have identified. This is going to be fun because although botany was the foundation of my field in my biological studies, it has been years since I have even opened my plant collections. Although I often identify plants by sight as I walk, many of them I remember only to the family or genus level.
8. Quercus gambelii--Gambel's Oak, often called Scrub Oak, it is often very difficult to tell scrub oak apart at the species level. Scrub oak is very promiscuous--that is the separately identified 'species' often cross, producing hybrids. Plants often refuse to obey the rules of species definition!

9. Pinus ponderosa var. scopularum, Ponderosa Pine. At our elevation of approximately 7500 feet, there are a few Ponderosa's scattered among the Pinyon and Juniper trees. In our mountains, we are at the ecotone, or transition zone, between the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland and Ponderosa Pine Forest. At the top of the ridge behind our house, Pondersa Pines are the dominant trees.

10. Juniperus scopulorum, Rocky Mountain Juniper. In this stand of Juniper, the Rocky Mountain Juniper spiecies is the one that is bluish in color. RM Juniper also has a weepy growth habit, and these are ways to tell it apart from...

11. Juniperus monosperma, One-seed Juniper. This is the green Juniper shrubs behind the Rocky Mountain Juniper. One-seed Juniper has a stiffer habit.

These two are different species and not merely varieties of Juniper, and are therefore legitimately counted separately. However, plants just don't obey the species definition rules very well at all! They are far more profligate than are animals.

12. Linum usitatissimum, Common Flax. Flax plants are considered to be the plants upon which civilization was built. Linum ssp. are found all over the world and have been used by human beings from prehistory to today.

13. Opuntia clavata, Devil Cholla or Club Cholla. There are actually 20 different species of Cholla (genus Opuntia) that grow in the Americas. Cacti are New World Plants, and plants that look like cacti but are native to the Old World are products of convergent evolution--they are not actually related to cacti. O. clavata is native to the Chihuahuan desert and surrounding mountains of central New Mexico.

It is the plant to the left in the picture. The Cholla is growing next to a young pine.


Amie said...

What a cool challenge! We may have to do this.

Anonymous said...

One day I hope to visit New Mexico, so I must thank you for sharing those pictures and discussing the plants.

I had left a comment before with questions of reading, teaching reading.

Just wanted you to know I stopped by, and we (my daughters and I) are working on this.....the species challenge.


Kaber said...

What a neat idea!!! I'll have to think about doing that. Or maybe listing all the birds or something. having just moved to such a different region, everything is so new.
** I finaly found an easy way to list the blogs I like to read on my homepae, so I can remember to actually read them! So I'll add you!