Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Equisetum arvense, primitive hooligan plant.

Damp woodlots, roadsides, lawns and driveways are places to find Common horsetails, Equisetum arvense. One plant guide, Mosses Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America, says, "It has been considered one of the 10 most common plants in the world!" Note above that there are two types of stems, the fertile ones, which have a spore-shedding cone at the tip, and the non-fertile stems, which do not.

I would add, since it grows between the pavers on our driveway and is almost impossible to eradicate without deploying Agent Orange, it is also "One of the 10 most annoying plants in the world!"

300 million years ago, the Sphenophyta (horsetails, etc.) were rather a big deal, a dominant component of the flora. Some Paleozoic sphenophytes were 100 feet tall. To try to get a sense of what that must have been like, I lay on my stomach on the lawn in a public garden to take a slug's-eye view of an emerging horsetail forest. The sod was cold, and sodden, and to add insult to dampness, I fear I failed to achieve the desired effect. Click to see.

Further unpleasantness: I met a dog while lying prone, taking these pictures. Rather, it met me. Hey! This is NOT an off-leash park.

By the way, there's a trilobite on your head.


Cicero Sings said...

Hmmm, that book ...

Mosses Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America

... just may be the very one I need to help me with all the lichens around here! Hopefully I can locate a copy!

Hugh said...

I was being lazy. The full citation is:

Dale H. Vitt, Janet E. Marsh, Robin B. Bovey. 1988. Mosses Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America. Lone Pine Publishing.

It's a very helpful book. I probably bought it at the UBC bookstore.

Good luck!

Wanderin' Weeta said...

I like your "slug's-eye view".

I've taken to carrying a rolled-up piece of plastic for a ground cover. It won't discourage dogs, though.

BerryBird said...

I think the slug's-eye photos came out great, Hugh.

One of the great perks of digital cameras is the freedom. You can experiment with all sorts of new techniques. Sometimes I just try holding the camera out and shooting blind when I want a shot my body won't cooperate with. Sometimes I get nothing, and other times they come out well. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT, btw. It's a great camera.