Category: botany

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the las…

I,,, misread nepenthens for isoetes on the last post somehow and i felt,,,, f,,,fear,,,,

fun fact there’s literally no books out there showcasing all the species of isoetes in the world like u might find for other plants. if u want to know that information u gotta go digging through 89 levels of deep academia and only then may you possibly stumble upon a hit list of names. 

when i was researching for my term paper on them last semester i tried to build a distribution map of all the species, but the only book i could find was a weird old cloth-bound codex (literally a codex) that i had to specially request from my uni’s library storage building. after i got it i realized that 1. it…really was just deadass a list of names and ranges, 2. it was nowhere close to the exact ranges and just gave vague outdated country information with weirdly ambiguous sources, and 3. it was nowhere close to all the species known to us. the actual age of the book was hard to pin down; i want to say that it was 1970s, but it felt…….older somehow. it had quite The Energy and i quickly returned it 

im sure that if u were to dig through some databases, you’d be able to find a more comprehensive list– i accidentally stumbled on a comprehensive checklist of all the hornworts in the world published by phytokeys, for instance, and hornworts are kind of in the same category of ‘weird niche nonvascular plants one might glimpse for 3 seconds while hiking like bigfoot amongst the trees’– but man, why cant we just have a nice comprehensive coffee table isoetes book? 

this is off topic now but i keep reading these researchers in both isoetes and hornwort papers talking about how one of the biggest challenges to new research is that nobody knows jack shit about them, and i cant help but think like….comprehensive, readable knowledge of these plants is near impossible to find? like, most of the modern papers i was reading for isoetes kept shying away from discussing the fucked up anatomy of those plants to the point where the only book i was able to find that laid it all out for the reader in a semi-understandable format was a book from the late 1960s buried in the fern section of our library? all the illustrations in it were hand drawn? i still havent been able to find a good photo of some of these structures? i got a couple high resolution scans of some of the samples from my uni’s herbarium to publish on this blog, and had people literally come thank me because pics of specimens cut open to show the actual anatomy are hard as shit to find? like? 

this turned into a little bit of a rant but come on lads!!! to get to know these plants u gotta go through like 93 levels of academia and know like 6 people!!! it’s no wonder why nobody knows them well!!! 



oh man oh man this is bad

some people in my neighborhood have a passionvine and it often hosts gulf fritillaries and zebra longwings

just the other day my mom told me she saw tons of caterpillars on it

and today it smelled awful over there and theres dead and dying caterpillars all over the sidewalk, it looked like some were trying to evacuate. some were convulsing. there was stuff on the passionvine. i think they poisoned it. not only were all the caterpillars dying, but there were some ants convulsing from eating poisoned caterpillars. i cant feed them, so i was just trying to transfer all i could (including an egg i found) to these little vine sprouts in the grass away from the main plant, knowing full well its not enough to feed them but knowing its their only hope

i also took one of the vine sprouts that i found further away from where i was dumping the rescues and pulled it out since (and this is another terrible thing) that grass gets mowed and the sprouts get cut down

i rolled the root in rooting powder and put it in wet paper towels, does this sound good for getting the plant ready for transplant? im hoping i can eventually get my own passion vine growing, and we will never ever poison it, because its FOR THE BABIES DAMN IT!!!

any advice would be great, but thats mostly about the vine i took, im pretty sure all those caterpillars are a lost cause 🙁

So so so sorry, that’s horrible 🙁

Passion vine grows like a weed. The growth can be a little slow earlier in the season, but in Texas at least, by later spring the things are exploding with how fast they grow. Towards the end of the summer, the vines were practically invasive all over the back of my yard. I don’t know about transplanting it, but I recently pulled a root out of my garden and transplanted it into a hanging pot (no rooting powder because I don’t have any, I just water frequently). The paper towel sounds good, just make sure it doesn’t end up molding. If you water frequently, you might be find just putting it directly into a well-drained pot. I’ve had success doing this with random plants I’ve found throughout my yard when I replanted them in other locations. Just water frequently!

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are also EPIC egg-layers. They will be back. I don’t even know how they all found my passion vine, but they found it, and they covered it in eggs, and I had butterflies for a solid 9 months. I’m sorry you lost your early season babies, but there will be more. You’re right about those ones being a lost cause. The poisons will destroy their GI tract, so once they ingest it, that’s it. It’s too bad, they probably spray any wasp nests that pop up in their yard, too. I never had any caterpillars mature outside because the wasps took all the young caterpillars to feed their young, Why do humans keep messing things up?

April 8, 2019

Oh gosh, don’t handle poison ivy, even i…

Oh gosh, don’t handle poison ivy, even if you aren’t allergic to it! You can abruptly develop a reaction to it and it can be severe. The more you expose yourself to it the more you risk this, for this reason I try to avoid it despite being immune. My dad was as well, but fell victim to hubris. He would pick it to warn people he met on trails of what it looks like (and show off), until one time he picked some to show some clueless tourists… and had loonie sized blisters all over the next day.

Trust me, I do not go out of my way to roll around in poison ivy patches! The photos were from when I became overconfident in my ability to identify boxelder maple (I guess I still have no freaking idea how to tell the two apart, what even are plants???), and I was taking photos of what I thought was a branch of maple. I’ve gone back to my ways of just… not touching either. 


Above: me fondling a poison ivy’s berries (oops)

When I was in 3rd grade, I played around in a massive pile of leaves with a friend, and ended up with a full-body rash that was so itchy I had to miss three days of school. No idea what happened, but all the adults said I got poison oak. My less-enthusiastic friend got a little itchy on her arms (I was really rolling around in that piles of leaves, guys). And now that I’m in Texas, I know summer is here when I have to miss a week of work from chiggers. Trust me, I am not looking for more ways to get itchy!

I’m a long-sleeves-long-pants hiker, especially as it gets hotter, so chance encounters are infrequent, ALTHOUGH! I’d like to point out to folks that the oils that cause irritation from poison ivy can remain on your clothing for years, and it can continue to cause reactions! Same thing if your dog/cat goes wandering through a poison ivy patch, and then you pet them, those oils are there, and they can give you a reaction!

Learn more about poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac! [link to]

April 5, 2019











But seriously, when we got our property, it was all just…grass. A sterile grass moonscape, like a billion other yards. With two big old maple trees. Just grass and maples, that was it. 

But then I got my grubby little paws on it, and I immediately stopped fertilizing, spraying, and bagging up grass clippings and leaves. I ripped up sod and put in flowers and vegetables. I put down nice thick blankets of mulch around the flowers and vegetables. 

When I first was sweating my way through stripping sod, I saw a grand total of 1 worm and 0 ladybugs. The ground was compacted into something that would bend shovel blades. 

Now, six years later, I can’t dig a planting hole without turning up fourteen earthworms, and there are so many ladybugs here. Not the invasive asian lady beetles; native ladybugs. They winter over in the mulch and in the brush pile. I see thousands of them. 

The soil is soft and rich. There are birds that come to eat, and bees of many sorts.

Like this is something that you, yourself, can absolutely change. This is something that you, personally, can make a difference in.

Like, last year I watched no fewer than twenty-nine monarch caterpillars grow up on my milkweed and fly away as butterflies. I watched swallowtails and moths grow. There are hummingbirds fighting over flowers now.

I did that. Me. You can do the same.

I would like to learn how to do this. Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming. I just want to find someone who can come over for a cuppa, and we can wander the yard and they can make me a plan. 

Preferably a very easy to follow, doesn’t take too much time every day plan.

It’s not nearly so intimidating as it sounds.

You can do a whole lot of good just by not spraying your yard, not mowing it so often, and not raking up leaves and grass.

But as a certified Lazy Ass Gardener, I can tell you for 100% certain that this is attainable, and requires absolutely zero, none, nada, zilch expensive or complicated equipment.

I don’t even have a plan. I just do things.

Wait so, dont mow as much, dont pick up the grass when you mow, and dont pick up leaves and your grass is healthier? my dad likes to mow the lawn every one to 2 weeks in the summer💀 what other tips do you guys have?

Yup. Those grass and leaf clippings rot down and fertilize the soil.

Grass does BETTER when it’s not mown short, and gives more hiding places to all sorts of insects.

Don’t spray. Let the bugs and ‘weeds’ live.

i have a 10’x10’ piece of garden that i initially used to grow things, but i abandoned it completely and now its absolutely covered in “weeds” and i even have a volunteer shrub that makes berries! the amount of native bees and other insects i attract is incredible. and all i do to maintain it is nothing.

For reals. I have to mow my front yard (I live in an HOA… ugh), but I don’t bag my clippings. I never water my yard (and I live in Texas!), but my grass is green all year. The clippings and mulched leaves keep in moisture and they’re nature’s fertilizer! Lizards and frogs hide under the leaves and clippings, and when you remove those, you are removing their habitat. Bugs will show up and munch on the clippings, and their waste adds more nutrients as well. I don’t fertilize. I don’t spray. I let nature do its thing. Even just in the front, there are bugs everywhere. I’ve found the tiny green sweat bees nesting in the ground under my rose bush, and the giant cicada killer wasps had a nest somewhere in my front yard last year–I couldn’t find it, but they were pollinating the sorrelvine that randomly showed up and decided to climb up my oak tree (which was the host plant for the Vine Sphinx moths and the first batch of sawflies I raised!)

In the back? I planted a few things in a small garden area, and I intentionally planted three (3) trees, but I’m busy/lazy and the back yard became the paradise jungle it is when I was writing my Master’s thesis after moving into this house, and I never had the heart to start mowing it. A bunch more trees decided to start growing on their own and I constantly have to murder soapberry and hackberry and elm saplings. My yard is covered in a mix of native plants and invasive bunch grass, in addition to random grains and sunflowers growing under the bird feeders. They all serve as hosts for insects. 

In less than three years, I have documented almost 1000 species of plants, insects, birds, fungi, slime molds, and mammals. My yard is 0.10 acres. I have ladybugs crawling out of my ears. The larvae are pupating all over my horse skeleton!!!

So yeah. Want species diversity in your yard? Plant native plants. Are you a lazy ass like me and want species diversity? Then don’t do anything, congratulations, nature still wins (just look out for all those invasives, and have fun pulling out catchweed -_-

April 5, 2019


plus catchweed, or cleavers, IS EDIBLE!!!!!! (but you must boil it for a some time so that the hooked hairs on it dont irritate your esophagus. The younger cleavers require less cooking.*)

*also some people are allergic to it, so do a skin test by rubbing on skin to see if you develop a reaction, and eat a small amount of it first

Funny Story!

I do not react to poison ivy (apparently). And I can’t tell the difference between the mature vines and boxelder maple (apparently):

^ that’s poison ivy

^ this is the same poison ivy

I had no idea until somebody on iNaturalist corrected my ID and asked me if I felt itchy. Pro-tip, maple doesn’t have berries, dummy.

But: I am so allergic to plants in general that I can’t eat most fruits and vegetables raw. I can’t carve a pumpkin for Halloween without wearing gloves. When I was a teenager and my allergies were a lot worse, I couldn’t sit in the grass if I was wearing shorts without getting a huge rash. When I had my first prick test at the allergist, I reacted to oregano. When the pollen count is high, I have to enter a Zen meditative state to keep from clawing my eyeballs out they’re so itchy (like right now, and this is after I’ve taken my allergy meds). One time I went for a short spring hike, and my allergies got so bad, my throat became so swollen, and my sneezing became so powerful, that I launched out a tonsil stone I didn’t even know I had (!!!). 

But I can manhandle poison ivy all I want, I guess.

I wear gloves when I go out on catchweed-killing missions (I’m not joking, my entire back yard is getting overtaken with that crap), but if I’m wearing short sleeves, and it touches my bare arms? I basically want to die for the next couple hours. My arms look like I got the worse chiggers ever. It’s all those damn hooks breaking my skin and letting all that pollen in!

Which reminds me, chigger season is coming! It’s not getting me three years in a row, I’m PREPARED! (*change/wash your clothes and take a hot shower ASAP after wandering around in tall grasses/vegetation!)

April 5, 2019

How do you feel about trees? Interested in cra…

How do you feel about trees? Interested in crazy tree facts? (I'm a forestry student and have many facts to share)

you probably know this already from being a dendrology major, but the biggest change to how i saw trees came from the realization that trees are a growth form, not their own thing. in other words, trees evolved multiple different times in multiple different families, and because they all have secondary growth (wood) and happened across similar anatomy so they kinda look the same, humans were like ‘ah yes. these are all trees’.

this means that there is no main tree family to which all trees belong. which is very trippy. 

i think it’s easy for us to see a tree, and see another tree, and be like ‘ah, these are both big tall woody plants with leaves attached to branches, therefore they must be closely related to other big tall woody plants with leaves attached to branches’, but that’s not necessarily the case. you can have trees that flower. you can have trees that dont flower. back some 400 million years ago, there were trees that reproduced with spores. you can have a plant family that just so happens to have a bunch of different species of trees that are closely related, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all closely related to other trees just because they happen to grow like a tree. 

for example: maple trees and birch trees are both trees that flower, which lumps them into the big clade of all flowering plants: the angiosperms. both the maple tree and the birch tree then fit into the same sub-clade, the rosids, which includes about 70,000 species of flowering plants of all kinds. from there, though, the clade splits into two orders: the fabids and the malvids. the maple tree is in the malvid group, while the birch is in the fabid group (although both of these trees as we know them now are pretty far down the line, if that makes sense. like a good few million years and a half dozen families of evolution from there). 

according to the angiosperm phylogeny website, the fabid/malvid split happened about 100 million years ago. flowering plants entered the scene 130 million years ago. this means that the last time the ancestors of maple trees and the ancestors of birch trees were closely related was when dinosaurs still roamed the earth (this would be in the peak of the cretaceous period). even then, they might not have even been trees yet at all. 

obviously you can have trees that are more closely or distantly related, but there’s a sample of like… far apart trees can be from one another on an evolutionary basis. like. idk in high school i just assumed that all trees were in a big family of their own and that’s why they all looked like trees lmao 

botanyshitposts: native air plants (Tillandsi…


native air plants (Tillandsia recurvata, i think) i saw in san antonio, texas! they really just be like!!! sitting there!!! over roads and businesses and shit!!!! living out their lives like this is normal or something!!!!

Lol dude let me tell you about Texas

Yeah the ball moss is everywhere, we got lichen and endemic fungi for days, more mistletoe than you can shake a stick at, and have you seen the galls yet, everything is covered in galls.

January 4, 2019

nanofishology: nanofishology: So, I’m the SEM …



So, I’m the SEM expert at work. Basically, this is what I have been aspiring to my entire life—I had an “electron microscope” book when I was a kid and I thought it was the Coolest Thing Ever. Sometimes I want to have a little fun, to break the monotony of imaging our Super Secret Aerogels. A couple weeks ago I prepped samples from my face (I wanted to find face mites) but it turns out I don’t have face mites (super sad face). Well, today I needed to prep some samples and I thought it would be pretty cool to look at the stomata on my desk friend. I cut a small piece out with scissors, and in doing so released a bunch of weird corkscrews at the edges—anybody in plantblr know what these are?

EDIT: Fun fact, I forgot to mention. To prep the samples, we have to coat them with gold! That’s the second photo. Gold Plated Desk Plant !

MYSTERY SOLVED! The spirals are protoxylem!

I was wondering why I could never find this post, and it’s because I never reblogged it to here!! Originally from Dec 2016 (I think?) / Reblogged Dec 18, 2018












TIL there is a species of fungus that only exists in Texas and rural Japan, and is thought to have been in both places for 19 million years


turns people into cowboys or samurais depending on which place you’re in 

That explains why cowboy movies and samurai movies are so similar.

Cowboys are Alolan form Samurai

So in Japan it’s called Kirinomitake while in Texas it’s called either Texas Star (because after releasing spores it’s unfolded into a star shape) or the Devil’s Cigar because it starts out as a long oblong mushroom but then it unfolds with an ominous hissing noise and releases a big smoky black cloud of spores.

It only grows in these two places, and people did genetic testing and a bunch of math to determine that the two populations started diverging from each other nineteen million goddamn years ago, so it’s not possible for humanity to have moved it from one place to the other. They’re at the same latitude, but 11,000 fucking kilometers apart not to mention the goddamn ocean in the way.

“this is only another illustration of the unusual and unpredictable distribution of many species of the fungi. It would be difficult indeed to account for it, and we merely accept the facts as they are.”

So apparently it’s pretty common in the mycological world to find some bullshit that can’t be explained and would probably drive men mad to look at too closely, and just sort of shrug and move on with your day.

The species is also the only example of its genus.

Your daily reminder that anyone who devotes their life to studying fungi is not to be trifled with because their brain is full of things humanity was never supposed to notice.

just fucking mushrooms


Oh hey fun fact, apparently the sanctuary I do outreach at has these. I haven’t seen them, but the Travis Audubon Outreach Coordinator has photographed them and had them IDed. She was telling me about them a couple weeks ago and I was like WOW I NEED TO FIND ME SOME!!!

In exchange, I told her about the magical super butterfly-attractant Lantana that was off-trail. I swear like 30 species at once on that thing it was redonkulous.

If you’re in Austin, the Blair Woods Sanctuary is open to the public, dawn to dusk. It’s behind The Austin Wildlife Rescue’s intake center. There’s a pond, and two weeks ago it was STILL swarming with dragonflies! Nice little patch of wilderness with some walking trails and rare fungi I guess.

December 12, 2018

Update: Texans, Guess What?

They’re out right now and iNaturalist can tell you exactly where to find them [link]. They have been found within the past couple days in Austin, and within the past week-ish in Dallas-Fort Worth. Looks like this fungi come out in the cooler months between October and April, and they grow on the stumps and rotting roots of Cedar Elms. 

If you look at where these have shown up on iNaturalist historically (if you follow the link, click on the filter button in the top right and get rid of my date filter), and you will see they have a very interesting distribution pattern…

Very interesting

It’s almost like, the spores are in the water or something 😂

December 13, 2018

nanonaturalist: plantyhamchuk: end0skeletal: …









This palm is called the Devil’s Penis. Shhhhh…I wasn’t the one who named it.

Jatun Sacha, Ecuador

What is it with plants and dongs????

Humans cut off their sexual organs as part of our mating rituals. This is a threat.

😂 you’re right!!

It gets better: they move.

Those roots are constantly growing and form like stilts, and over time the palms drift…

Some more titillating pics of Devil’s Penis:

Iriartea deltoidea – An important tree species of the Amazonian rainforest. Y’all are getting excited about the stilt roots these things form, you’ll notice they head down into the ground. The rot-resistant wood from this tree is useful, from flooring to boats. Parts of the plant are edible to humans, though reportedly not tasty.

The dicktree is back!!! I did not realize that the dongs were the stilt roots that let it move, and I also didn’t know:

“Parts of the plant are edible to humans, though reportedly not tasty.”

Which parts??? 😂 j/k

Going through all of my posts and finding A TON OF THEM HAVE BEEN FLAGGED AND WOULD HAVE BEEN DELETED IF I HADN’T CHECKED so I feel obligated to reblog the dick tree which has not been flagged.

I’m MAD!

Leaf of a Candlestick Tree (Senna alata), magn…

Leaf of a Candlestick Tree (Senna alata), magnified 3900x, viewed with a scanning electron microscope. 

The leaf dried up a long time ago, and I’d been meaning to take a look at it. The leaves are superhydrophobic, meaning water beads up into a perfect ball and just rolls right off of them. This often happens when plants have nano-scale structures on the leaves which mess around with the surface tension of the water, and it creates a self-cleaning surface. This is more well known in the lotus. I’m guessing that’s what all those texturey bits in here are, despite how shriveled the leaf was! When they are more hydrated, they might look like tiny little fingers. You can also see the stoma despite this poor leaf being all dry and dead.

December 6, 2018