Μάιος 04, 2024

Name Changes and Goals

I began this iNaturalist account with the intention of documenting local tree species. I named it for the tree service that I work for, and I intended it partly as a resource to share with interested clients who wanted to know more about the trees that grow in our area. However, this account very quickly expanded beyond that narrow focus as I began using it to document all kinds of plant life. Soon I was averaging observations of multiple new species each day, including several "county records" per week.

Inspired by user danbadlands, and somewhat bewildered by the sheer variety of plants, I began taking many very detailed sets of photos. I wanted this account to become a resource. With such an abundance of plants to document, I was usually content to wait for them to flower or fruit before getting photos. This became a standard that I've tried to adhere to. With few exceptions here or there due to time constraints or limited opportunity, I try to get many detailed pictures of plants at their most identifiable, which usually means when their reproductive structures are most distinct, though I am somewhat less picky when documenting invasive weeds.

Overwhelmed by the number of plants, I initially began only making observations for species new to me rather than documenting repeat encounters at different locations. This has since become another standard. Besides, many of my photos come from private land, so I adopted a policy of obscuring the precise locations of all observations in the interests of privacy. Eventually, I settled on the idea of using this account as an informal flora of the Alabama Piedmont, and one where I only add observations when I find an entity that I haven't documented before (though I occasionally replace older inadequate observations).

The Alabama Piedmont, or at least a part of it, appears to be relatively underserved and poorly documented, and I have been in a unique position to help correct that. My work has taken me down countless back roads and onto many private lands that would be otherwise remote or inaccessible, and this has enabled me to discover many plants that were previously unknown either to the county or even the whole region. Although the Alabama Piedmont is a somewhat arbitrary boundary to focus on, I also have only one life to live and have limited means. By concentrating on this relatively smaller region, I hope to hone my efforts on more achievable goals.

This iNaturalist account has long since veered away from its original intention, so I thought it was about time to change of name to better fit its current and future purpose.

Posted on Μάιος 04, 2024 0146 ΠΜ by piedmontplants piedmontplants | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 21, 2024


For the sake of posterity and my own awful memory, I've decided to journalize some of my botanical adventures, but first I figured a brief account of how I got here might be appropriate.

I have been an arborist in the Alabama Piedmont for over 10 years. I have neither formal training nor relevant qualifications. I arrived in the United States from the United Kingdom approximately 15 years ago, and I started working with trees merely because my cousin-in-law needed help and I needed money--it was intended to be temporary. Before this, I had little to no interest in trees, and I had never so much as picked up a chainsaw. I grew up in the suburbs of London, but I had now moved to a very rural area with very many trees. My knowledge of botany at this time was paltry, and I mostly just believed what I was told about the local flora and fauna by the people around me.

Over a few years, I was gradually becoming more familiar with the local tree species, and I began to realize that there were very many more tree species than the locals had names for. With the help of a couple of tree ID books, I was putting the puzzle pieces together, but it was not a hobby at this time. An interesting tree might occasionally pique my curiosity and I would research particular plants, but progress was slow and inconsistent. However, I was beginning to realize that the Alabama Piedmont had a surprising diversity of trees, and the woods around our home seemed particularly impressive in that regard. Then I made, what at the time was, a fascinating discovery.

I was already familiar with the black cherry, Prunus serotina. It's common throughout most of the eastern United States, and it's also common in the Alabama Piedmont. I frequently found myself removing or pruning P. serotina at work and had come to recognize the leaves and bark. I was also aware that it was growing in the woods surrounding our home. One day, while outside with our dog, I leaned against a small cherry tree and became distracted by the leaves. The leaves looked irregularly shaped and strangely hairy. We had removed a large P. serotina tree the day before at work, and its leaves were fresh in my mind. Whatever this small tree was, it couldn't be P. serotina. I broke off some leaves and began looking for more cherry trees nearby to compare them against, and I discovered that there were apparently two different kinds of cherry growing around our home.

My initial attempts to identify the mysterious new cherry were unsuccessful until I read a passing remark about a rare variety of P. serotina called an Alabama black cherry, P. serotina var. alabamensis. However, the Alabama cherry was supposedly unknown in our county, and it seemed puzzling to me that both varieties should be occurring together in the same location. Nonetheless, after much digging, I resolved that these were indeed Alabama cherry. I also realized that P. alabamensis really ought to be considered its own species, albeit perhaps only recently and somewhat incompletely diverged from the P. serotina lineage.

This discovery was quite exciting. Here I had been living right beside P. alabamensis for years and failed to notice it, and I could find nobody else around who even knew this species existed, let alone could identify it. This event perhaps more than any other opened my eyes to the diversity hiding in plain sight, and it kicked me down a rabbit hole that I continue to delve deeper into today. Around this time, I resolved to not just learn all about the local trees, but about all the other flora in the surrounding area. However, it wasn't until early 2022 that I decided to finally put that plan into action--to make a hobby of botany--and to start learning and identifying all kinds of plants in earnest. Shortly thereafter I discovered iNaturalist.

Posted on Απρίλιος 21, 2024 0323 ΜΜ by piedmontplants piedmontplants | 2 παρατηρήσεις | 5σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο