Naming and claiming wildflowers.

California Coneflower Crane Flat Yosemite 7-09
California Coneflower – Yosemite – 2009

 

If you’ve read my blog very much you know that I love to take pictures of wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

I also like to identify the flowers, so I know what to call them. I can’t enjoy them half as much if I don’t know their names or relations. If I know a flower’s name I feel more the reality that we are both creatures of our Father, and it is my own kin.

lupines varicolored Yos 6-10 89
Lupines – Yosemite – 2010
shooting star East Sierra 7-11
Shooting Star – Eastern Sierras – 2011

Plant identification was slow going until ten or so years ago. Our outings usually included a few children and a father who wanted to get to the mountaintop or some other destination. There never seemed to be time to stop and look through a wildflower guide to see if we could find a picture of what was before us next to the trail. That is, if we had even brought a guide.

If we even owned a guide. Several years of marriage and children passed before we invested in a wildflower guidebook. I hadn’t learned the names of these plants as a child, but when I married Mr. Glad he started teaching me the ones he knew, and that’s how my love of wildflowers began: Blue Dicks, Sticky Monkey, Tiger Lily, Lupine….those were my first flower friends.

I suppose it wasn’t until I had the tools for digital photography that I got inspired, surely by Pippin first, to take pictures of blooms and then go home to work further on the fascinating task of figuring out the name — if not of the exact species, at least the family or genus.

flax crp Smith Rock OR 6-10
Flax – Oregon – 2010

My findings were often published on my blog. Then months or years would go by, and I would see the flower in the wild again, and not be able to retrieve its name from the corners of my brain — even if I had spent hours looking in multiple guides and on websites. So I would go back to my blog and try to find it there, if I had time for that job.

Sierra primrose - Yosemite summer 09
Sierra Primrose – Yosemite – 2009

A few years ago I got the idea of sifting through all those picture files, to scroll through scores of pictures from every hike or trip and find flowers that I had photographed and managed to identify — then I would copy them all into a big Wildflower folder (still on the computer) so I could easily find them again when my ailing memory failed me.

For a couple of days last month when I was too weary and sad to do anything else, I worked on that project, and it didn’t take as long as I’d expected.

Many flowers remain unidentified, maybe more than I know the names of. I put some of them in the folder, too, with a “Q” in the file name, for Question. A question mark would be ideal but it’s not allowed in those file names. If the date and place the picture was taken are known, I add that information.

Tincture Plant – Collinsia Tinctoria -Feather Falls trail 7-11
Tincture Plant – Feather Falls CA – 2011
Scarlet Gilia - close Yosemite summer 09
Scarlet Gilia – Yosemite – 2009

I am sharing a few of the pictures I put into this new folder, not the recent ones, but specimens that haven’t been on my blog for several years. Some of these flowers I haven’t yet encountered again since I first made met them, but I hope there will be many more chances in my future.

16 thoughts on “Naming and claiming wildflowers.

  1. What a good idea! After all, naming was an important part of Creation. The endless variety of colours and shapes of flowers is fascinating. One of my favourite lines from Christopher Smart’s long poem Jubilate Agno is ‘For flowers are peculiarly the poetry of Christ’.

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  2. forgot to add, I particularly like that tincture plant. I see that it isn’t an orchid at all, but doesn’t it look like one!

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  3. A wonderful thing to do! California seems so rich in wildflowers! Ohio is too, but they are different ones, I was lucky enough to have a mother and grandparents who took me on walks in the woods and taught me the first wildflowers.

    In 1984 on our first sabbatical to Hungary, I bought a Hungarian wildflower book and when I identified one I wrote the date and place I had seen it on the page in the book when it was pictured. It is a wonderful joy to look over this book from time to time, and remember.

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  4. What a delightful project! It’s overwhelming–how many flowers there are to delight in. Once, when I had a rose garden, I had quite a few rose names learned, but I have since forgotten them. Do you have a photograph of a snow flower? Well–that’s the name I know them by-that hearty looking, very deep red, long flower that grows through the snow, in the mountains? They are so striking against the white of the snow.

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    1. Yes, I did, and wrote about that experience here: https://gretchenjoanna.com/2013/05/25/the-parasitic-snow-plants-are-blazing-at-tahoe/ They are the most fascinating plants!
      I remember talking about rose with you long ago, and at one time I was hoping to come to your town in May just so we might visit rose gardens together. Since then I’ve removed most of my roses, but now I’m contemplating planting some again, when I have more space.

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  5. I love your photos! Yours are familiar to me. I’m trying to appreciate and learn and even find the prairie flowers here in Oklahoma. This year, because of the rain, we have things growing and blooming that have been dormant for five yrs.

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  6. and I like knowing folks who know the names…lol. it was a beautiful walk, beautiful flowers and God’s own creation…love it! I do believe names are important…One of God’s first jobs given to Adam was naming…

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  7. It does take a great deal of patience to look up all the plant photos you’ve posted for years! I have a terrible time finding things on my blog. Probably because I don’t do a good job of labeling. :-/
    When my children were young I spent a lot of time walking around our ten acres identifying wild herbs. I knew many names back then, which escape me now. I dried herbs and made teas. I think I abandoned this hobby after finding that one of the teas was causing me to develop hives in my mouth. It was goldenrod! Duh! But none of the plant guides I used mentioned it being an allergen. I was very naïve, to say the least. 🙂

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  8. I love wildflowers and have learned (through nature studies in our homeschool) to identify most of them that live where we do. I love finding *new* flowers when traveling. Sometimes I like to bring a field guide along. GREAT flowers. Is the tincture flower used for a type of tincture? I wonder what for?

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