13 de septiembre de 2023

Getting Around

and inanimate,
get around around.

As far as inanimate goes,
there are diamonds.

Back in the day, folks panning for gold across North America, folks with no geological training whatsoever, found diamonds where no diamonds should be. That is to say that the local geology could not have produced the diamonds, for it was all sedimentary rock with no kimberlite pipes for hundreds of miles distant.* The existence of the diamonds was a fact, however, and the conundrum of their presence (on average one diamond for every square mile of surface area) was only resolved with imaginative thinking. The diamonds had come from the sedimentary rocks. They just happened to be deposited in the formative material accumulating that eventually would become the sedimentary rock. The diamonds also came with the material carried atop and in the glaciers that once covered substantial portions of North America. From the kimberlite pipes in Canada, diamonds were scattered across the plains.

As for distant dispersal of life forms,
the distance is overcome by the eventualities provided by time and circumstance.

Even molten islands pushed up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that began their existence as sterile rock,
by and by,
were inhabited by all sorts of life forms.

At present,
a rather larger lichen than any Cladonia, namely Lobaria pulmonaria, has a circum-global distribution.

And at a larger scale, the fern Pteridium has a global distribution, only recently being (with some adherent controversy) separated from Pteridium aquilinum in to somewhat more local species.

on the same scale as Cladonia,
a tiny moss has been studied,
and against the long-held belief of local distribution only,
was found to exist in North America as well as Europe. [Authors: Flagmeier, Maren, Draper, Isabel, Vigalondo, Beatriz, Garilleti, Ricardo, and Lara, Francisco, Source: The Bryologist, 124(3) : 403-413. (This was originally brought to my attention by Taro letaka, t_tallhouse. )]

I keep an open mind when the traits of identification appear correct, but the occurrence would be an outlier of sorts.

  • Excepting Murfreesboro, Arkansas famous for its Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Publicado el 13 de septiembre de 2023 13:54 por mjpapay mjpapay

26 de agosto de 2023



Press on,
press on.
Your feet pound the trail,
the dust clings to your clothes,
like the pain in your heart,
and the weight on your soul.

Head down,
head down.
You brave the windy road,
face against the odds,
just a glimmer of hope.

Pound out your prayers,
on that long

Publicado el 26 de agosto de 2023 19:28 por mjpapay mjpapay

14 de agosto de 2023

Of Kelp & Cacti, A Taxonomic Saga

This historical narrative is based on the following references, cited in chronological order

  1. Simone Wartono, 1689, Schola Botanica sive Catalogus Plantarum
  2. Johannes Commelin, 1697, Horti medici Amstelodamensis rariorum tam Orientalis
  3. Samuel Goodenough & Thomas Jenkinson Woodward, 1797, Observations of the British Fuci, Transactions of the Linnaean Society of London. 3: 84-235
  4. Stackhouse, 1809, Mémoires de la Society Imperiale des Naturalistes de Moscou, 2: 50-97
  5. Adrian Hardy Hayworth, 1812, Plantarum Succulentarum
  6. R.K. Greville, 1830, Algae Brittanicae
  7. Friedrich Traugott Kutzing, 1843, Phycologicia Generalis oder Anatomie, Physiologie, und Systemkunde der Tange
  8. Nathaniel Lord Britton & Joseph Nelson Rose, 1920, The Cactaceae
  9. M. Parke & P.S. Dixon, 1976, Check-list of British Marine Algae - third revision, Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 56: 527-594
  10. Elizabeth Den Hartog & Carla Teune, 2003, Gaspar Fagel (1633-88): His Garden and Plant Collection at Leeuwenhorst, Garden History, 30(2): 191

[Phycology is the scientific study of Kelp; a Phycologist is a practitioner of Phycology]


Brace yourself.
The first Mammillaria was a kelp!

And, it had the very cactus-like name of Mammillaria echinata,
which translates to English as the Hedgehog Mammillaria.

It was given the name Mammillaria echinata in 1809, by a phycologist named Stackhouse. The kelp genus Mammillaria thereby had what in taxonomic parlance is called "Priority of Publication."

Yes. That's a fact.

Three years later, in 1812, a botanist named Adrian Hardy Hayworth described a cactus derived from Curacoa, calling it Mammillaria simplex. It was the first cactus to be called a Mammillaria, but as we now know, the first Mammillaria was a Kelp, not a cactus. Oh, what to do?

Before we chase down that answer, let us consider how odd it seems that a kelp, a group of plants notorious for being flimsy, un-rigid, and non-spiny of form, could be considered in need of being named after a Hedgehog, an animal renowned for its rigid spiny armor. Stackhouse may have been inspired to do so by Samuel Goodenough and Thomas Jenkinson Woodward. For in 1797, these two gentleman named a kelp Fucus mammillosus, and "raised the roof" when they did so. There can be little doubt that their little publication received a clamor of attention in botanical circles around the globe.

You must understand that Goodenough & Woodward were publishing their article in the Transactions of the Linnaean Society of London, yet in their article they boldly highlighted an error by Linnaeus, the man for whom the society was named. Yikes!

In their publication of the kelp, Fucus mammillosus, Goodenough and Woodward provided the following commentary. "The errors which have attended the investigation of this plant, are owing in great measure to Linnaeus himself, who inadvertently under his ceranoides quoted the figure of Morison above mentioned. The figure altogether militates against the description which he gives of ceranoides; for he describes it as having apices vesiculosus, which mammillosus never has; besides, the specimen preserved in his herbarium has no affinity to it; for that is never found with these excrescences which we mention as the characteristic of this plant. Linnaeus's quoting this figure of Morison to his ceranoides led subsequent authors, who naturally trusted more to such an expressive figure than to his verbal description, to mistake the plant which he named ceranoides. Thus Gmelin supposed crispus to be ceranoides, and mammillosus, in as much as it was so cited by Linnaeus himself, a variety of it."


Knowing their illumination of Linnaeus's error would ignite a firestorm in the Linnaean Society, Goodenough & Woodward cautioned, "When the learned of science so differ, we must deprecate all censure upon our vanity, if we presume to hold out a truer investigation." No wiser words were ever written.

This all relates back to our Phycologist, Stackhouse, who knew the genus Fucus well, and in particular a species he described as Fucus echinatus in 1797. Do you see where this is going? Goodenough & Woodward had brought to the attention of the botanical world a kelp they named Fucus mammillosus, which Stackhouse knew as Fucus echinatus. Stackhouse took things one step further in 1809, and renamed this kelp Mammillaria echinata. And that is how a marine kelp became the first Mammillaria.

That, however, is not the rest of the story.

This is.

The reign of Mammillaria as a genus of kelp lasted for 34 years (1809 - 1843). For it was in 1843 that Friedrich Traugott Kutzing renamed Mammillaria echinata as Mastocarpus mammilosus. Afterwards, it seemed that all the cacti that had, during the interim, been named to the genus Mammillaria were at last safe. Or were they?

In 1920, Nathaniel Lord Britton & Joseph Nelson Rose were taking no chances, and so renamed the cactus genus Mammillaria as Neomammillaria just to be on the safe side as regards taxonomic rules of priority of publication. But not everyone was happy with this measure, but not for the reasons you might imagine.

A few people, Latin Scholars in particular, were unhappy with the spelling, Mammillaria, for the proper diminutive form of the Latin word for nipple, mamma, meant that Hayworth should have spelt his cactus genus with one less m in it, as Mamillaria, not Mammillaria. Thus, Britton & Rose might also have spelt their Neomammillaria as Neomamillaria, but they didn't. It would seem that the Latin Scholars are correct, but that everyone else was happy with the double M's and double L's in Mammillaria and Neomammillaria.

And what of Hayworth's Mammillaria simplex ? It was first described and illustrated by Commelin in 1697. He did not use binomial nomenclature as is now customary, but in the manner of botanical names of the time, gave it a description, "Ficoides vel ficus americana sphaerica", Figure 55 of his text. Commelin's illustrations are very realistic, and the viewer immediately recognizes the plants depicted, including the cactus we now call Mammillaria simplex. Latin Scholars will recognize, however, that Commelin's written description relates to a fig, not a cactus. I conjecture that he was led to do so by the fact that Mammillaria simplex produces a milky sap when its surface is cut, in the same way that the common fig produces a milky sap when its stem is cut.

The First Opuntia was also a Kelp

Is there no end to this Kelp-Cactus connection?

Be at ease.

It is not as bad as you might think.

The first described Opuntia was a Kelp in Tenby, south Wales.

It was described as Fucus opuntia in 1797 by our old friends, Goodenough & Woodward. They gave the kelp that name for its appearance as a string of flat elongate beads. Thirtythree years later it was renamed Catanella opuntia by Greville, 1830. And it wasn't until 1976 that Tenby Wales finally lost the distinction of having a kelp called Opuntia, for the kelp was renamed Fucus caespitosa by Park & Dixon.

And that, dear reader, ends our Kelp-Cactus connection.

[Someone has since renamed Fucus caespitosa as Catanella caespitosa. So, not even a pretty little kelp is immune to a string of name-changes].

[Someone has renamed Haworth's Mammillaria simplex as Mammillaria nivosa. Oh well. There you have it.]

Publicado el 14 de agosto de 2023 21:11 por mjpapay mjpapay

6 de julio de 2023

Pteridium species

NOTE: This page is under long-term development. It may be some time before it is useful to the viewer.

According to current taxonomy, Pteridum aquilinum is retained as a species of Europe, and does not occur in the Americas. The American varieties have been raised to species rank:
Pteridium aquilinum feei ==> Pteridium feei
Pteridium aquilinum latiusculum ==> Pteridium latiusculum
Pteridium aquilinum pseudocaudatum ==> Pteridium pseudocaudatum
Pteridium aquilinum pubescens ==> Pteridium pubescens

It seems likely at some point in time that iNat will implement the new taxonomy of Pteridium.
If you have an observation of Pteridium in the Americas, and it does not as yet have a varietal or subspecies rank, it would perhaps be wise to pursue its identification further.

GOALS of this journal page/project:

  • For each species of Pteridium listed by Plants Of the World Online (POWO) [https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:17210050-1#children], provide at least one link to an iNat observation that is "iconic" (in some way) for that species.
  • Review details of said observations, and deduce diagnostic morphological traits for the identification of each species. No doubt, knowing where the fern was observed will greatly assist in its identification.
    - - -

Pteridium aquilinum

Pteridium arachnoideum

Pteridium brownseyi

  • no iNat observations yet (06 July 2023)
    - - -

Pteridium capense [South Africa]

Pteridium caudatum [Southeastern USA]

Pteridium central-africanum

Pteridium decompositum [Hawaii]

Pteridium esculentum [Tropical & Subtropical: Asia -> Australia -> South America]

Pteridium falcatum

Pteridium feei [Mexico]

Pteridium latiusculum [Eastern North America and Eastern Asia; replaced along the American Gulf Coast and Southeast Atlantic by Pteridium pseudocaudatum]

ASIDE: iNat has recently coined the common name of "Western Brackenfern" for this species. Well, "Western Brackenfern" occurs in Eastern North America and in Eastern Asia. So this common name is bound to cause a lot of confusion.

Pteridium lineare

Pteridium pinetorum

Pteridium pseudocaudatum [primarily Coastal Plains and near-shore of Southeastern North America]

Pteridium pubescens [Western North America]

Pteridium revolutum Subtropical & Tropical Asia & India to NE Australia

Pteridium rostratum

Pteridium yunnanense

My perception of life forms
is that what we think of as separate species
are in fact connected to one another
in a fluid way,
in the same way that there is really only one ocean on the planet,
and that what we for convenience call the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean et cetera,
to suit our needs for navigation and orientation,
are in fact one connected mass of water.

In the same way that we divide up the ocean for our convenience of understanding place,
taxonomy draws artificial lines across continuums of interconnectedness between genetically interchanging populations, and creates categories meant to guide human understanding of the diversity of life forms.

Nature has no concern
nor regard
for the artificial taxonomic devices of human kind.
Nature gets on with what it does,
and is,
in all of its myriad forms of life.

Publicado el 6 de julio de 2023 14:31 por mjpapay mjpapay

1 de julio de 2023

Record Rainfall

Last night,
in a span of twenty minutes,
we received 3.9 inches of rain.

The little creek,
behind our house,
rose more than 5 feet,
and amidst an hour of roaring,
piled a huge gravel bar
just downstream a sharp bend.

the floodplain was stripped of last autumn's leaves.
The edge of the flood marked by an emphatic line,
of bare soil,
to which clung plants that survived the deluge.


Publicado el 1 de julio de 2023 13:03 por mjpapay mjpapay

27 de junio de 2023

SKINK ID by Ty Smith

Suchosauros shared these two excellent guides by Ty Smith for the identification of

  • Common Five-lined Skink
  • Southeastern Five-lined Skink
  • Broad-headed Skink




Publicado el 27 de junio de 2023 17:09 por mjpapay mjpapay

12 de octubre de 2022

Fixing the Calendar - by doing absolutely nothing.

The Calendar the modern world uses is ten days off the mark.


This is true.

If January 1st of the Calendar is meant to mark the beginning of the new celestial year, then the Calendar is 10 days off the mark.

The new Celestial Year begins on what is now December 21st. You may recognize this as the Winter Solstice.

To align the modern Calendar with the Winter Solstice all that has to be done is absolutely nothing for 40 years. By "absolutely nothing" I mean that we have to ignore Leap Years for ten cycles of Leap Years, and since a Leap Year happens every 4 years, that tallies up to 40 years.

If we do this, then in 40 years the modern calendar's January 1st will coincide with the Winter Solstice.

That's not all!

After said 40 years of doing nothing except ignoring Leap Years, the Celestial Seasons of the year will be conveniently marked by blocks of three months.

Winter = January, February, March

  • equinox

Spring = April, May, June

  • solstice

Summer = July, August, September

  • equinox

Autumn = October, November, December

  • solstice

And, the beginning and end of each Season would be marked by a Solstice or an Equinox. At present the modern calendar has the solstices and equinoxes lost amongst the days of the months, instead of the solstices and equinoxes punctuating the beginning and end of seasons at the beginnings and ends of months.

So, by doing absolutely nothing for 40 years we can adjust our modern calendar to the actual seasons of the year and the Earth's orbit around the sun. Isn't that what the Calendar was invented for?

Publicado el 12 de octubre de 2022 11:05 por mjpapay mjpapay

26 de julio de 2022

Appalachian Lady Fern, *Athyrium appalachensis*

Athyrium appalachensis , Appalachian Lady Fern

LEAVES: clustered at the end of subterranean stem; erect; yellowish-green to green; 8-12 inches wide, 16-28 inches long; wide-based triangle in outline; thrice divided ; sub-leaflets (pinnules) shallowly lobed, lobes bluntly pointed; interior sub-leaflets (pinnules) of basal leaflets (pinnae) remain constant in size, are not reduced ; each leaflet (pinnule) has its corresponding upper (acroscopic) and lower (basioscopic) sub-leaflets (pinnules) of similar length. PETIOLES: yellowish-green to green; grooved on the upper surface. SORI: curved. HABITAT: known so far only from Macon County, North Carolina at elevations above 4,500 feet - except where associated with a waterfall; mesic conditions, along a mountain spring in a mature woodland; a woodland edge near a bald; a grassy verge to a bald; beside a waterfall.

1st record: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/90300543
2nd record: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/90888195
3rd record: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/97995288
4th record: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/127890150

Publicado el 26 de julio de 2022 21:29 por mjpapay mjpapay | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

2 de febrero de 2022

Powder Horn Lichens Clarified

Quotation from the Notes from this link: https://lichenportal.org/cnalh/taxa/index.php?taxon=53390&clid=1048

Lichen terms used in the quote, and their meaning:
thallus Not in the quote below. Lichens, whether tiny and dust-like or large and dinner-plate-like, or ribbon-like, or shrub-like, have the main body made of a stacked layer of cells called a "thallus". The thicker the stack, the more differentiated the cell layers tend to be - no surprises there.
squamule = small thallus: Note: All lichens have a thallus. The Cladonia species are small lichens and thus have small thalli, and lichenologists call these small thalli "squamules".
podetium (plural = podetia) You may know the word "podium", and a podetium might as well be called a podium [autocorrect strongly agrees - try writing the word "podetium" and see what happens!]. The Cladonia species of lichens hold/present their spore-bearing structures at the end of a podium, sorry, podetium. The shape of the podetium varies from species to species, and can be useful in identification.
corticate like rough tree bark
rugose furrowed, like corduroy cloth
soredia A botanist would use the term "gemmules", for soredia. Soredia (and gemmules) are packets of cells that are clones (have exactly the same genetic material) as the lichen (plant); each soredia (gemmule) is capable of growing into a new lichen (plant). Soredia (and gemmules) are a means by which the lichen (or plant) clones itself.
soralia A structure that produces soredia. The shape of the structure can be useful in identification.
farinose powdery texture of wheat flour
erumpent Eruptive; bursting forth through the surface. So why not just say eruptive?

"Cladonia coniocraea and C. ochrochlora are morphologically very similar, and some authors are inclined to unite them. The present treatment is provisional. The squamules of C. coniocraea are always deeply incised, whereas the margins of the squamules of C. ochrochlora can be nearly entire. Cladonia coniocraea is usually found without cups, but C. ochrochlora rarely lacks them completely. The base of the podetium in C. coniocraea is only thinly corticate, while the cortex of C. ochrochlora is thick, extends beyond the immediate base, and is often longitudinally rugose. The soredia of the present taxon are usually farinose, rarely occurring in small, diffuse soralia; soredia in C. ochrochlora are variable, but are usually larger than those of C. coniocraea, and often largely occur in well defined, erumpent soralia. The podetia of C. coniocraea are greenish rather than gray, fairly slender, usually not more than 1.5 mm diameter, and are usually straight. The podetia of C. ochrochlora have a grayish tint, are generally thicker, and are often somewhat branched and twisted (Hammer 1993)."

"The base of the podetium in C. coniocraea [Common Powderhorn] is only thinly corticate, while the cortex of C. ochrochlora is thick . . ."

Translation by yours truly . . .

The base of the horn-like podium in Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea has only a thin bark (is often smooth), while the bark of the Smooth-footed Powderhorn, C. ochrochlora is thick. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, I translated it correctly. The Smooth-footed Powder Horn actually has a rough foot, whilst the Common Powderhorn tends to have a smooth foot. It is all clear as mud.

If a common name is to be helpful, it should be, well, helpful.

Publicado el 2 de febrero de 2022 13:01 por mjpapay mjpapay

13 de noviembre de 2021

Rock Tripe Lichens, a Limited Guide

First published: 24 November 2021 not copyrighted, use as you wish Michael Papay
Most Recent Update: 27 September 2022

I have learned more about the Rock Tripe Family, and offer this limited guide to identifying some of them. Descriptions are for mature/large thalli.

Upper Surface adorned by raised wart-like protuberances - Lasallia species

  • Lasallia papulosa (1) upper surface when dry in shades of gray, although the range of colors possible includes white, lavender, orange, near yellow; also, upper surface crowdedly adorned with raised wart-like protuberances; (2) underside is tan to gray or gray-brown whether damp or dry; (3) thallus mostly flat against the rock surface https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/100618252
  • Lasallia pennsylvanica (1) upper surface when dry a nearly uniform dull brown to dark brown ; also upper surface usually somewhat sparsley adorned (not crowdedly packed) with raised wart-like protuberances; upper surface usually wrinkled like a scrunched-up carpet; when damp the upper surface is dull pea-green to brown-green that looks almost greasy; (2) underside is black-to-dark brown [becomes dull brown with age when the black cells have worn away; recognition of the color range of the underside consolidates observations with upper surface color and texture as described above]

Ornamented-Surface Umbilicaria

  • Umbilicaria muhlenbergii (1) upper surface adorned by sunken dimples, especially at periphery, and the dimples are where black reproductive structures (apothecia in lichenological terms) are produced; almost unfailingly a very dark brown lichen when dry, and green when damp; (2) underside coarsely textured at the periphery (not a uniform fine-grained near planar surface) (3) black apothecia (reproductive structures) are produced in sunken dimples at the periphery of the thallus https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/504634-Umbilicaria-muhlenbergii
  • Umbilicaria phaea (1) Upper surface smooth and entire, (if surface is fissured, the fissures are at the periphery of the thallus whilst the central area of the thallus is smooth), (lacks sunken dimples or raised warts), is dark brown when dry (like U. muhlenbergii ), and is adorned with black flat (usually), geometric in outline structures (apothecia) with concentric geometric lines within https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/125055-Umbilicaria-phaea
  • Umbilicaria torrefacta (1) Upper surface smooth but fissured like a sort of jigsaw puzzle of melded piece akin to fault lines at junctures of continental plates (lacks sunken dimples or raised warts), is usually dark brown when dry, but color can include frosty tans to white (like U. muhlenbergii ), and is adorned with black flat (usually), geometric in outline structures (apothecia) with concentric geometric lines within https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/233255-Umbilicaria-torrefacta NOTE: Not always morphologically nor chemically distinct from Umbilicaria hyperborea.
  • Umbilicaria hyperborea (1) Upper surface distinctly and abundantly blistered, otherwise somewhat similar to Umbilicaria phaea NOTE: Not always morphologically nor chemically distinct from Umbilicara torrefacta.

Smooth-surface, un-adorned Umbilicaria (Upper surface smooth: not adorned with numerous raised wart-like protuberances, nor with sunken dimples, nor with tiny raised dots)

  • Umbilicaria mammulata Two color forms identifiable when dry: (a) the common dark tan to brown to dark brown; (b) the less common near-white, being light tan at the periphery and near-white at the center. (1) upper surface when hydrated is green, when dry is brown to tan to near-white; outline of lichen usually irregular in shape; thallus lobes unequal, the larger lobes actively fold over the main thallus in dry conditions, and unfurl in damp conditions (2) underside black, very fine-grained ( very short false rhizines) (3) the black apothecia (reproductive structures) are spheroidal and occur on top of the upper surface, are not in sunken dimples nor slightly impressed into the surface https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/136615751
  • Umbilicaria americana (1) upper surface when damp is light-green, drying to very white; surface at periphery sometimes peppered with small black dots; outline of intact lichen roughly circular, peripheral lobes regular in shape, usually only shallowly incised; (2) lower surface usually adorned with a thick short false rhizines [rhizine is a technical term for what are effectively roots of a lichen], giving the lower surface a somewhat shaggy appearance. Umbilicaria americana is known from non-acidic rocks, usually limestone or dolostone, but amphibolite and any non-acidic rock might, in theory, do. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/182508-Umbilicaria-americana
  • Umbilicaria duesta Small rock tripe lichen, (1) dry surface deep brown, periphery with numerous black dots; upper surface fine granular texture; thalli small, usually crowded, generally curled under at edge and thus sort of ear-shaped, https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/182503-Umbilicaria-deusta

Dermatocarpon Rock Tripe Lichens (surface peppered with regular small dark dots; thallus thick and the edges smoothly rounded-over, not thin and papery)

A VERY HELPFUL PICTORIAL GUIDE : https://www.waysofenlichenment.net/lichens/Umbilicaria/

Publicado el 13 de noviembre de 2021 14:17 por mjpapay mjpapay