Saturday, December 4, 2021



The plant most associated with Christmas is perhaps the poinsettia. This isn't really a flower. The red part of the plant are the leaves. The flowers are the tiny parts of the plant in yellow. Here is an explanation from Wikipedia: Poinsettia.

The poinsettia (/pɔɪnˈsɛtiə/ or /pɔɪnˈsɛtə/) (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Indigenous to Mexico and Central America, the poinsettia was first described by Europeans in 1834. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who is credited with introducing the plant to the US in the 1820s. Poinsettias are shrubs or small trees, with heights of 0.6–4 m (2.0–13.1 ft). Though often stated to be highly toxic, the poinsettia is not dangerous to pets or children. Exposure to the plant, even consumption, most often results in no effect, though it can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Wild poinsettias occur from Mexico to southern Guatemala, growing on mid-elevation, Pacific-facing slopes. One population in the Mexican state of Guerrero is much further inland, however, and is thought to be the ancestor of most cultivated populations. Wild poinsettia populations are highly fragmented, as their habitat is experiencing largely unregulated deforestation. They were cultivated by the Aztecs for use in traditional medicine. They became associated with the Christmas holiday and are popular seasonal decorations. Every year in the US, approximately 70 million poinsettias of many cultivated varieties are sold in a six-week period. Many of these poinsettias are grown by Paul Ecke Ranch, which serves half the worldwide market and 70% of the US market.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres (2–13 ft). The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. The colored bracts—which are normally flaming red, with cultivars being orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (at least fourteen hours at a time for 6–8 weeks in a row) to change color. The plants also require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.

The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming. They are grouped within the cyathia (small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, or false flowers). Nothing is known about pollination in wild poinsettias, though wasps are noted to occasionally visit the cyathia. All flowers in the Euphorbiaceae are unisexual (either male or female only), and they are often very small in size. In Euphorbia, the flowers are reduced even more and then aggregated into an inflorescence or cluster of flowers.

Winter Flowers


I don't usually do images in black and white, but these winter flowers growing in a greenhouse were most beautiful from their white color and form. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Seeds Close up -- Macro Photography with the iPhone 13

This image was made in late fall when there had been several freezing nights. Most of the plants were frostbitten and dried out. We have had no snow in the lower elevations so far into December. There are images like this all around. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Salt Lake City, Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being restructured


The basic outline of the temple is recognizable but the entire structure is covered with scaffolding. This major reconstruction effort began in December of 2019 for general remodelling and seismic renovations. The reconstruction will take approximately four years. Meanwhile, the rest of of Temple Square is also affected. The North Visitors Center is presently being demolished as was the South Visitors Center. Although this video is out-dated, it is helpful in understanding what is going on.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Starting Macro-Photography

 When you look closely at the world around you, you will see beauty in unexpected places. These dried flower stocks are waiting for the first snow of the year. I will be exploring the macro-world more frequently than I have in the past. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Dinosaur bones at the Dinosaur Quarry, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah-Colorado


This a photo of dinosaur bones at the Dinosaur Quarry, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah-Colorado. The bones are on the side of a huge cut into a hill where bones have been found since 1909. They are still working on extracting the bones. Her is a quote from about the monument

In 1909, paleontologist Earl Douglass was searching for fossils for the Carnegie Museum when he discovered a formation layered with prehistoric plant and animal fossils. A quarry was established and in 1915 Dinosaur National Monument was created to protect 80 acres in the quarry area. Today the monument includes 210,844 acres. 

Many fossils are embedded in a sloping rock formation that was once a sandbar on the edge of a large river. As the river carried animal carcasses downstream, many became stuck on the sandbar, which eventually turned to rock. As a result, fossils from hundreds of creatures are concentrated in a small area. Many fossilized bones have been partially exposed but left intact in the rock where they can be easily seen. A building was constructed over the area, which is now known as "The Quarry" at the monument.

Research is ongoing. In Feb 2010, a team of paleontologists from Dinosaur National Monument, Brigham Young University, and the University of Michigan announced the discovery of a new, large, plant-eating dinosaur, Abydosaurus McIntosh.

The Quarry area makes up only a small part of the land included within the national monument. The remaining area includes canyons cut by the Green and Yampa rivers. The park backcountry is incredibly rugged and remote. It is very scenic and some areas have high wilderness value.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Green River at Split Mountain, Utah


The curious case of the Green River at Split Mountain

Arizona and Utah are full of geological surprises and quite a few mysteries. One of the most intractable mysteries is how and why the Green River runs through the middle of the Uinta Mountains  and specifically why it runs through Split Mountain. Rivers don't usually run uphill but it appears that this is what happened with the Green River as it curves west and south through the mountains. You can click on the link above to read a short history of the geologists trying to understand and explain this phenomenon. The photo above was taken at the Split Mountain Campground, right at the mouth of the canyon.