Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bloggus borealis

How "north" is the North Shore? One clue might be the flowers you see along the trail.

The scientific names of flowers show their genus first, and then their species name. Like the trillium I saw the other day, Trillium grandiflora. It was a trillium, that's the genus. Grandiflora means "big leaves." That's the species.

Here in the North Woods, we have lots of plants that have their species name sounding like something from the north. And one of my favorite species name is borealis, meaning "of the North."

Hiking yesterday, it was one borealis after another. The starflower above is Trientalis borealis, roughly translated as "4-inch flower of the North."

Bluebead lily is Clintonia borealis. Roughly translated as "bead lily of the North."

And twinflower is Linnaea borealis. Roughly translated as "Carl's favorite flower of the North."

There's a great story about this flower. It was so loved by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus that when he had his wedding portrait painted, he held a twinflower. Even though he really liked the twinflower, his fiancee Sara Elisabeth Moræa got her own, separate portrait.

Here it is close up:

Linnaeus didn't have to get to the North Shore to find his beloved twinflower...it's actually a circumpolar species, found all around the northern latitudes.

So when you hike these trails and see these flowers, remember that you...and the flowers....are "of the North."

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