33 thoughts on “Sinuosity

  1. The Illinois Wildflowers article got it right: “English Plantain fits the public’s stereotype of a weed pretty well; it is quite common in lawns.” I grew up on Long Island with some species of plantain in our suburban lawn. As kids we’d shoot off the flower heads at each other.

    1. We had some species of plantain in Iowa, too. While you were shooting flower heads, I was harvesting the seeds to make meals for my dolls: plantain stew, plantain muffins, plantain cake. They seemed to like it, but I never tried any of the dishes myself.

  2. How fitting the scientific name without any looking up of latin….plant lance…works for me. Cool picture, I like it!!

    1. I’m always intrigued by plants whose growth pattern is unusual. This one was surrounded by other plantains with perfectly straight or just slightly bent stems, but it looked like it couldn’t decide which way to grow. The stem was so long and curvy I couldn’t get everything in focus, so I decided to focus on the flower head and see what happened. I ended up liking it, too.

      1. Me too on the unusual shapes. I am attracted to the aquatic pickerel weed flower spires and the fire flag blooms that drip off of the very long delicate stems. You got the right thing in focus for sure. That is the thing with close ups and shallow dof, making sure the focus is right where you want it.

        1. I thought I remembered our talking about the Thalia species. I went looking, and sure enough — what you call fire flag also is called alligator flag, but it’s different than our alligator flag. One of these days I’ll get that posted. It’s a beautiful plant.

          I had to smile – while I was browsing the image gallery, I saw a gallinule walking across the leaves of the plants, and thought, “That looks like Judy’s photo.” It was, indeed — and better than anything surrounding it.

    1. I didn’t have a clue about the Queen of Naboo, but now I know there’s a Wookiepedia, and I know who she is. Sort of. I think you’re right that a spikey plantain hat would do her justice.

      I’m not so sure about Carmen Miranda. In my mind, she’s so closely associated with fruit that it’s hard to imagine her with a weedy hat — although a few of these plantain sprigs tucked into her fruit hat, with plantains rather than bananas, would be a nice touch.

    1. I had to trek into the wilds to get this photo — the wilds of that vacant lot in front of Regal Estates. I love your dueling images. I can see both, although I think I prefer the dancer. It is pretty; the details are as interesting as any “real” flower’s.

  3. So THAT’S what that thing is — who knew?!? Urbana is just a stone’s throw from where I live, Linda, so I’m thinking you posted this little weed just for me — thank you!

    1. You’re half-right, Debbie. I posted the flower just because I’m so fond of the photo, but I did choose the link to the Illinois wildflower site for you and Melissa, who also lives in Illinois. The next time you see one, you can say hello, and tell it you’ve been introduced!

  4. What a fancy photo of something so common!!! So you know those plantain seeds that are in your photo are the psyllium powder which are sold as a colon cleanse. But you can eat fresh plantain just for same purpose and plus use it to get rid of wrinkles. :)

    1. I didn’t know about those benefits, Kristina, although I have read that plantain tea is good for relieving a cough. Apparently, plantain seeds have been gathered for quite a long time. Look at this delightful poem from Confucius, called “The Song of the Plantain Gatherers”:

      “We gather and gather the plantains;
      Come gather them anyhow.
      Yes, gather and gather the plantains,
      And here we have got them now.

      We gather and gather the plantains;
      Now off the ears we must tear.
      Yes, gather and gather the plantains,
      And now the seeds are laid bare.

      We gather and gather the plantains,
      The seeds in our skirts are placed.
      Yes, gather and gather the plantains.
      Ho! safe in the girdled waist!”

  5. Either you have a big wildflower book or mine the internet! I’ve never seen one of these and I don’t think I would have thought to look it up! Nice details, Linda.

    1. You need to be on the lookout, Jeanie. This little gem grows all over Michigan. You can see the counties where it grows here, and yours is included. Actually both of yours are included. You should be able to find it up at the cabin, too.

      As for wildflower book(s) — just imagine your stack on Paris. Now, turn them all into books on Texas wildflowers, Kansas flowers, southeastern grasses, Arkansas wildflowers — you get the point. Identifying what I find can make me crazy sometimes, but I do enjoy it — and the photography.

  6. OK.. now grace us with a photo of the rest of the plant! Does this one have the dandelion-type growth?

    The plantain is not as abundant here on the coast as it is in the cloud forest, but I’m going to keep my eye out.. I don’t remember it having an interesting flower…

    Lovely image, btw!

    1. What you see is pretty much the whole show, Lisa. Here’s a photo of two nearly-complete plants. All that’s missing are the thin, strap-like leaves at the bottom, and a few more inches of stem. It blooms from the bottom up. The brown that you see underneath the stamens is where it began blooming. I’ve never seen one with more than a ring of stamens. I don’t think it ever blooms bottom to top, all at the same time.

      This shows up as introduced into the islands off Chile, but I can’t find it listed for any other locations in South America. I was surprised to see there are about 200 species of Plantago, including Bougueria which is listed for the Andes. Apparently the botanists still are quibbling about whether that one’s truly a plantain, but the arguments seem to be based on DNA, which is entirely beyond me.

        1. That one looks much like the ones I remember from Iowa, although the USDA doesn’t show it for that area. What I found interesting was the note that the seeds, combined with other seeds and roasted, make a fine snack. Apparently, when I harvested the seeds and turned them into meals for my dolls, I was doing a good thing.

          1. You had great instincts, and your dolls were surely very healthy! That plantain grows like the ‘Culantro de Coyote’-
            Eryngium_foetidum and both are so easy to ‘maintain ‘ with a swing blade.. just an easy back and forth scatters the seeds without damaging the foliage. If only all garden maintenance were so easy!

  7. Point of view and perspective — change either and you get a whole new look at something you may have overlooked before as beneath your notice. I like how you focus in on the details — a great lesson for those who come to the bald prairie and think there’s nothing here. Take a closer look from closer to the ground.

    1. With a nod to Prince, one of these days there will be a post titled “The Lot Formerly Known As Vacant.” You’re so right about how often we see a lot, or a piece of prairie, or a bit of urban green space and think, “Oh, there’s nothing there.” To the contrary: there are whole worlds there. Fascinating structures, beauty, the struggle for survival — all it takes is a little looking.

      Of course, a nice macro lens helps out a good bit. I’m still at the beginning of the learning curve with mine, but every photo like this is its own reward and a bit of encouragement.

    1. That curve certainly is what caught my eye, Yvonne. I like curves, and quiet colors. There’s drama in mountains and fall foliage and storms, but a “weed-filled” lot has its own charms.

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