Winter Botanizing with Kat | Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism

Winter Botanizing with Kat | Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism


Hi there, this is Kat MacKinnon with the Colorado
School of Clinical Herbalism. Today we’re going to be talking a little bit about botany
and specifically, where and when to botanize. There’s a common misconception you need a
pristine field of wildflowers, or a giant alpine meadow with rare little swamp species
in it in order to be able to look at plants. But, you can really just start looking at
plants wherever you are. So, whether you’re in rural, cultivated farmland or whether you live in the suburbs, or whether you live in a very dense urban center, there’s always something to look at. There’s always plants there. That’s the wonderful thing about living on Earth, is that we’re constantly surrounded by plants wherever we are. You can look from the street trees in Denver to even here in Boulder, in some of what people might call “brown sites” or more abandoned areas.
There’s a richness and a diversity of plants wherever you are. Another common misconception that we see with botany is that it has to be done in the spring or the summertime. Now, admittedly, just like with us, flowers are a little more dynamic, a little more boisterous
during the spring and summer, and even into the fall months. But during the winter, there’s still a great deal to look at and a great deal to learn from the winter landscape. A
great way to start with wintertime botanizing is looking at the evergreen trees. Here in
Colorado, a lot of our trees actually do tend to be evergreen, even more so than the East Coast or the West Coast. This is a great place to start. The tree that we’re going to look
at is this one. And the genus and species is Pseudotsuga menziesii. And Pseudo means
“like.” Suga is the genus name for an Eastern species of Eastern Hemlock. And the reason
they call it Pseudotsuga is because the needles are short, just like that Eastern species.
And we’ll look a little bit at the picture here, you’ll see that the needles actually
have a similarity to the Eastern species in that they have two stripes, two white stripes
along the bottom of them. Along with the needles of Pseudotsuga of the Douglas fir, one of
the really key characteristics of it is in the cones. And you can see in this picture,
the cones – they’re small, they’re a little bit brittle, but they have a very disincitve
feature on them, which is the bracts. If you look at the bracts, they’re three-pointed.
They look almost like a mouse kinda got stuck with its tail, feet out, inside the cones.
But that’s one of the distinctive features about the cones of the species. No other species
has that distinctive little bract that comes out. That sort of snake-tongue, three-pointed
bract that you’ll see in the species. Along with looking at species like our evergreens,
which you can botanize and look at with year-round, there’s also great things to learn from the
perennial and the annual plants and what they’ve left for us after their season of growing.
From seeds, to leftover stems, to twigs, to bud and leaf scars, nevermind the evergreen
plants that are all around us, there’s a huge deal to learn, even when it’s cold and, you
know, a foot of snow on the ground.

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