Anna Laurent

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, and many would put the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) at the top of their...

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 roads, the desolate bluffs and disturbed areas, from Monterey to Mexico. It is hearty...

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, to me, they were jewels. They lay in the generous shadow of the tree...

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 this is a perfect adaptation for mountain top life and its strong late summer...

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 mistake them for fragile travelers. The fruit’s fibrous skins are deceptively thick and durable,...

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, castor oil. Once considered a cure-all elixir, castor oil has been used to remedy...

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 based on behaviors and forms and to delineate an evolutionary history of botanic relationships....

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 manage both. As such, the plant discourages anyone who attempts to reorient it elsewhere....

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 (Liquidambar styraciflua). To the sweetgum, the magic of fall is marked by the disappearance...