Botany Blueprint: The Matilija Poppy

Specimen #16: Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri) city known for its dusty winds and beautiful people, Los Angeles sometimes seems like a place where the stars are not in the sky, but on the ground. Botanists would be happy to agree, …

Botany Blueprint: The Bladderpod

Specimen #15: Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) true California native, the bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) lives comfortably in the desert and by the sea. It inhabits the sort of world traveled by the itinerants in Steinbeck’s books: the parched highways and less-traveled coastal …

Botany Blueprint: The Southern Magnolia

Specimen #14: Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) he seeds were the first thing I noticed. I was collecting specimens in my Hollywood neighborhood when I came upon the crimson drops, scattered across the grey concrete like so many precious stones. Truly, …

Botany Blueprint: The Mountain Mahogany

Specimen #12: Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) he mountain mahogany’s spiraling seeds are designed for flight. Affixed with a silver-haired coiled plume, they remain nested in their dried tubular calyx until the suggestion of wind exhorts an inclination to disperse. While …

Botany Blueprint: The Golden Rain Tree

Specimen #11: Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) asy on the eyes and light in the wind, the golden rain tree’s seed cases are a perfect example of well-designed vessels. The inflated papery capsules balloon like iridescent bubbles, but do not …

Botany Blueprint: The Castor Bean

Specimen #10: Castor bean, Ricinus communis eaders of a certain generation might be all too familiar with Ricinus communis. The formidable shrub is more commonly known as the castor bean, a plant whose list of economic derivatives includes, most notably, …

Botany Blueprint: The Agapanthus

Specimen #9: Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) espite its ambitions of accuracy, plant taxonomy is a discipline with shifty, sometimes bewildering results. It applies the methodologies of an empirical science, but, in reality, precision is often elusive. It endeavors to classify plants …

Botany Blueprint: The California Flannel Bush

Specimen #8: California flannel bush Fremontodendron californicum classic native species, the California flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum) has perfected an environmentally-specific survival strategy. The bush is a long-time denizen of the chaparral; it knows the neighbors, the weather, and how to …

Botany Blueprint: The Sweetgum

Specimen #6: American sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua appy October, everyone. ‘Tis the season of shape shifting, technicolor costumes, sweet treats, and fearsome accessories. Thus it’s also the perfect time to consider a tree with an according autumn transformation: the American sweetgum …