Plastic – That Nemesis of the Environment
In the mid-19th century, ivory was becoming increasingly rare. A New York financial firm offered $10,000 to anyone who could manufacture a substitute. Thusly motivated, John Wesley Hyatt came up with the first plastic in 1869, which he called celluloid. Celluloid was lauded as the savior of turtles, rhinos and elephants as it could be made to look like tortoiseshell, horn and ivory.1 Plastic – an environmental champion!
Leaves of Grass and Every Other Plant
Now we say goodbye to deciduous leaves here in the Northeast. Of course, we will continue to see evergreen leaves throughout winter. The noticeable differences between evergreen and deciduous leaves only scratch the surface of the marvelous diversity leaves display in nature. There are hairy leaves, huge leaves, tiny leaves, juicy leaves, leaves under water, leaves underground, leaves that are spines, leaves that make tree trunks, even flattened stems that look like and act like leaves. What’s more, most all share a common function – photosynthesis. So why in the world are there so many different leaves? Environment has a lot to do with it.
Curious About Galls?
Winter is a good time to be on the lookout for galls of all sorts. You can find them on leaves, stems, buds, and roots of woody and herbaceous plants, agricultural and wild plants. Hopefully your curiosity will overtake your revulsion and take a peek inside to discover the inhabitant.
Can I Eat It?
I can seldom lead an identification hike in which someone doesn’t say, “Can I eat it?” I guess it stands to reason when you hear the names Indian Turnip, May Apple, Indian Cucumber Root, Squirrel Corn, or Witch’s Butter (a fungus). With summer upon us and a plethora of plants flowering, fruiting, and flourishing, I thought I’d outline some delectables that are out there free for the taking (if the landowner agrees) to satisfy your munchie cravings. Some are fun trail nibbles, others zesty salad additives, some make delicious drinks and many are more trouble to prepare than they are worth, but all are fun and worthwhile to try at least once.