Species Unknown


Some of you reading this will look at that picture above and scoff: “That’s not species unknown, that’s obviously [insert obvious name of common garden plant here]!” Of course it is. I am well aware that just because I don’t know the name of something, doesn’t mean that it’s new to botany or anything.

Plant with blue blooms

What I would like to do, though, is to renew your sense of strangeness even if it is familiar to you. Observe how this plant’s flowers hang down, although they don’t seem particularly heavy. The color and texture of its stems is positively fleshy. And it’s hairy.

Flower in profile

From this angle, the blossoms look almost insectoid. That’s pretty weird, isn’t it?

Flowering plant

The whole thing seems constructed on five-fold symmetry, and reminds me of nothing so much as a starfish. And isn’t it a little odd for one plant to have flowers of two separate colors?

There’s an unending, inexhaustible supple of oddness and curiosity and otherness out there in the world, all around us, in the most mundane and ordinary surroundings. I get a perpetual thrill out of that.

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6 Responses to Species Unknown
  1. Patrick
    June 28, 2011 | 2:28 pm

    I’ll be that one. Borage. You’ve done justice to what would otherwise be known as a weed to me.

  2. NT
    June 28, 2011 | 3:44 pm

    Well, somebody at the National Cathedral LOVES this weed. It’s all over the Bishop’s Garden and it’s definitely there intentionally.

    According to Wikipedia, the flowers are sweet and tasty, and the leaves have a cucumber flavor. Apparently it’s used herbally and in green sauces.

    Supposedly, those flowers start out blue and then fade with UV exposure to pink. Huh.

    Thanks for the ID!

  3. Patrick
    June 29, 2011 | 3:13 am

    It was Blake, I think, who said a weed is just a plant misplaced. DW got it into her mind that there would be a demand for the plant for the very reasons you cite. No go. They reseed like crazy out here, so we’re stuck with them.

  4. Uma Gowrishankar
    July 18, 2011 | 9:08 am

    There was something that I wrote a few years ago and searched in the net for a flower that will match my story. I found a photo of the very same flower you have here. I want to share my link here : http://umaathreya.blogsome.com/2008/03/12/flourescent-blooms/

    I found your blog through Dale’s mole. I am soaking myself in your beautiful photographs. I just love coming here everyday to read your lovely posts.

  5. NT
    July 18, 2011 | 10:29 am

    Thank you, Uma!

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