Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wildflowers: Weeds in Northwestern Argentina

The rainfall in Salta Province, Argentina, ranges from nearly 30" a year to 17 or less, almost all during the hot summer months. The countryside, though beautiful, can be rather inhospitable to plants.
Salta Province, Argentina

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Plant Story--The Majestic Cottonwood

The summer sun beats down, no breath of wind stirs the hot, hot air. You sweat even in the shade of the cottonwood. And,

Cottonwood leaves are almost always in motion, no matter how still the air. 

The tribes of the northern plains revered the cottonwood--big, sturdy trees found in diverse locations, often indicating water. The rustling leaves reinforced the mystic nature of the tree because winds were the path of the Higher Powers and cottonwoods always have those inexplicable little winds moving their leaves. Check for yourself.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Flowers of the Atacama Desert, Chile

I expected the Atacama Desert in northern Chile to be totally desolate. It is the driest desert in the world. In some places no one has ever seen it rain. Other spots go four to five years without rainfall. I read that residents don't bother to repair their roofs since no rain is going to come in through the holes. There was virtually no humidity: my hand-washed hiking socks dried in about six hours (36 hours is normal).

Atacama Desert

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Plant Story--Perplexing Pumpkins

We have no problem recognizing pumpkins


and yet, botanically they're difficult.

Four plant species are "pumpkins": Cucurbita moscata, Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. maxima and Cucurbita pepo.

That would not be particularly confusing, except that those same plant species also give us summer and winter squashes. Thus, different varieties of Cucurbita pepo, for example, are acorn squash, zucchini and sugar pumpkins.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Plant Story-- The Under-Appreciated Parsley

Parsley doesn't get much respect. Restaurants garnish plates with a sprig of parsley, but diners rarely eat it.

parsley leaves

And yet, parsley has a long history as a breath-freshener. And will help settle your stomach.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Glimpse of Northern Chile

Atliplano. eastern Chile
Altiplano, Chile
Northern Chile can be "down" in the Atacama Desert at 7,900', or on the Altiplano, averaging 12,000' above sea level, or higher, in the surrounding mountains. This is the second part of my description of a trip to northwestern Argentina and northern Chile, begun in last week's post (link).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Glimpse of Northern Argentina

North and west of Buenos Aires, Argentina becomes more and more tropical and then rises toward the Altiplano and the Andes. The rainfall drops to a few inches a year, which fall during the hot summer.
northwest Argentina
northwest Argentina
To the west, northern Chile sits on the Altiplano, over 10,000' above sea level, with the surrounding mountains even higher.
Altiplano, Chile
Looking across the Chilean Altiplano