Flora identification

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I grew up in Sacramento, and took my first two years at UC Davis. Berkeley was a game changer/eye opener for most of us middle class kids from the suburbs. But I found it to be politically/philosophically challenging and interesting.

In an effort to completely derail this thread:
I've recently started reading some Joan Didion who was also from the Sacramento area and, as I'm sure you know, wrote a lot about it. Just curious if you've read her writing and what you think of it, being a fellow Sacramenton and all. I believe she must have been one generation older than you?

Alan
 
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In an effort to completely derail this thread:
One of my favorite things about this forum is that threads often evolve in much the same way that a conversation would around a table or a campfire. Threads tend to drift here and there and then (usually) return to topic... along the way we get to know one another a little bit.
 
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Just after high school I had a girlfriend that was studying botany. I hoped that some of it would rub off on me, but for as hard as we rubbed, it never took.

Now I am in the market for a good guide book for trees if anyone has a recommendation.
 
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In an effort to completely derail this thread:
I've recently started reading some Joan Didion who was also from the Sacramento area and, as I'm sure you know, wrote a lot about it. Just curious if you've read her writing and what you think of it, being a fellow Sacramenton and all. I believe she must have been one generation older than you?

Alan
Alan,

My father, from when I was very young, took me to the library on a weekly basis. I read mostly classical fiction growing up: Defoe, Melville, Poe, Hawthorne, Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper, Jack London, Fitzgerald, Hemingway. I did read lighter material later on from Ian Fleming. I was certainly aware of Didion, but rarely read opinion or observational works. Although I did read, and enjoy books such as Carson’s Silent Spring and Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which I loved. Interestingly, when at Berkeley, I took a graduate course in wildlife ecology from A. Starker Leopold, one of Aldo Leopold’s sons. I thought it was just ok, but not up to the standard of his father. But then, what do I know?

In an attempt to put this thread back on track, I wonder how people approach identifying flora. Do you use both common and scientific names? When I was a student, the mantra was that scientific nomenclature knowledge was essential, because they never changed and were ubiquitous. On the other hand, common names varied widely for the same plant. It turns out that the opposite has been true. Common names have remained relatively constant, while scientific names have changed substantially. At the University of British Columbia, I taught grassland ecology and range management. The most important climax grassland plant was bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum). It is still known as bluebunch wheatgrass, but its scientific name is now Pseudoreoegneria spicata. I didn’t know there was a roegneria, let alone a pseudoroegneria. Many, many more examples exist. I am too old to learn new scientific names.
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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Do you use both common and scientific names?
The overwhelming majority of people in my experience use common names when discussing flora and fauna, whether they are canoeists or otherwise. When I got interested in planting trees on my property 20 years ago, I bought the best texts available on the subject, all of which naturally specified the Latin binomial nomenclature. I became fascinated by it, because I have always loved words, and began to use it.

I think I sounded like a pompous ass to most folks, except when I was talking to the owners of tree farms and nurseries from whom I was buying trees and shrubs. There, the name tags had the scientific Latin names, and I often would inquire whether the vendor had, or could acquire, a different species, sub-species or cultivar by using the proper scientific names.
The most important climax grassland plant was bluebunch wheatgrass . . . .
The kinky references to grass, fungi and other stimulating flora keep getting smuggled past the AI censor algorithms. Well, nothing's perfect.
 
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