This guy (pic right) is
Tangent: You know all those plants that people grow in their gardens called “geraniums”? (pic right, from my back deck) They’re not Geranium species. They’re all various species of a related genus called Pelargonium. The vast majority of cultivated garden “geraniums” are derived from one of a dozen or species of Pelargonium, all of which are native to Africa, and all but one of which are native specifically to South Africa.
The wild geranium I haven’t yet come across, but am keeping an eye out for, is the Sticky Geranium, Geranium viscosissum, (pic left) which is most common in the Northwest, but supposedly makes it down into
Tangent: Some botanists use the term protocarnivorous, because it’s thought that maybe behaviors and processes like this are how true carnivorous plants evolved, but the term is technically a stretch, because it implies a direction in evolution toward carnivory (yes that’s a word) when it’s not clear that’s the case. In fact, there are a number of examples of plants that appear to have had carnivorous behavior in their evolutionary past, but are today non-carnivorous.
Yellow Fritillary, Fritallaria pudica, also called Yellowbell, are easy to identity, and always hang upside down. Like
There are around 100 Fritallia species across the Northern hemisphere. They reproduce either by seed, or asexually via bulbets, (Yes, yet another mechanism by which plants can reproduce solo...) which are basically smaller bulbs that grow off the main bulb.
There are 160 species of Lathyrus, all “sweetpeas” or “vetchlings”, 30 of which are native to
You probably never heard of Reginald Punnett, but he’s one of the guys who continued Gregor Mendel’s work. He developed this chart, the
He did most of his work with sweetpeas. His classic experiment was producing a blue-flowered sweatpea from 2 white-flowered parents, showing that each carried the recessive blue gene, similar to how 2 brown-eyed human parents can produce a blue-eyed offspring.
Sweetpeas have been bred and cultivated into almost every color, but never yellow. A yellow sweetpea appears to be an impossibility; no Lathyrus species carries genes for yellow pigment. And in this respect, they’re a wonderful converse analog to the long-sought blue rose. For centuries gardeners have attempted to breed a true blue rose, without successs. (The few you see are simply dyed.) But roses carry no genes for blue pigment, and both sweetpeas and roses are interesting examples of the limits of cultivation; gardeners can come up with amazing flowers, but they’re ultimately constrained by the set of genes they have to work with. (For a cool, geeky sysnopsis on recent attempts to genetically engineer a blue rose, check out this article.)