Berries in Redwood Park

Last weekend me, my husband, JYL and the Gypsy Runner returned to Redwood Park to see how the berries were getting along.  The yields were not very impressive, but we scrounged up a few handfuls of wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca californica), thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus), and plenty of blackberries (Rubus something or other–these berries were more long and tapering than the Rubus armeniacus I usually see).  The only target that eluded us was the chaparral currants, which are mostly still in flower.

Finally, on the way back, we encountered this plant, which I was embarrassingly unable to identify.  We were particularly curious whether the fruits represented something that would eventually be edible:

Mystery plant. It’s somewhere between a bush and a tree. Anyone recognize it?

Micro-post: microraptor (and a 30,000 year old flower for good measure)

This has nothing to do even tangentially with plants, but you guys should totally check out this article in Science about the 4-winged dinosaur microraptor (if you have trouble with the first link, try this NY Times article instead).  Fossil microscopy and modelling has gotten so good that palentologists can not only tell that many dinosaurs were feathered, but also what color the feathers probably were.

The 4-winged microraptor. From Li et al., Figure 1.

Also, 4 wings=awesome.  Not as awesome as the 4 wings+2 legs I first thought it had (crazy homeotic mutation for vertebrates!), but still awesome.

Oh, but wait!  On the subject of ancient organisms, you should also check these plants that botanists were just able to sprout from fruit tissue around seeds buried by ground squirrels 30,000 years ago.

Silene stenophylla, a live look into the evolutionary past of this species, which now has tri-lobed petals. Photo from Yashina et al., PNAS.

I just can’t wait until we finish cloning woolly mammoths

I picked this for you…don’t eat it.

In fact, don’t sniff it, either.  Put these gloves on first.

This is a blog about lilies that cause one-eyed sheep, and crocuses that inhibit cancer cell growth. Mendel’s peas are well and good, but can’t touch some of the other plants out there for sheer (often fatal, but also medically relevant), biochemical awesomeness.  It may also be about the plants that grow wild near my house that you CAN eat. And I expect that from time to time it will also be about the things I did in lab that day, like make glow-in-the-dark-tadpoles from jellyfish proteins.