Saturday, May 19, 2012

Curse You, Binomial Nomenclature

Bear with me here, because I need to talk about flowers for a minute. With apologies to flora-lovers - the mother of my children, chief and foremost - I must apologize for the next couple of sentences. Often, my reaction to flowers is, "Yeah, you're right. That is kinda' pretty." Being olfactorily impaired - I'm capable of smelling, just not with my nose - flowers don't always capture my attention. That being the case, I'm learning to appreciate them.

Yesterday, I helped drive my daughter's class on a field trip to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (No, I was not in Buenos Aires.) for a great hike on a fairly easy trail. When I saw this flower.

Pretty, huh?

I remembered the effect that the same flower had on me about this time last year when I saw it on the grounds of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The BANWR park employee said that the flower was named prickly poppy or cowboy egg. Another called it fried-egg flower, but I remembered the name being something different, maybe australian, having made some cursory research the previous year. See! It really made an impression on me, and I couldn't find a sign with the name on it. Anyway, somewhere along the hike, one of the park employees asked if the students knew anything about binomial nomenclature. I joked that since they are taking Latin, they are learning nomenclature and working their way up to binomials.

In case your high school biology is a little rusty, I always think of those Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons when I think of binomial nomenclature. You know, those faux-latin names for the coyote: Carnivorous vulgaris, Nemesis ridiculii, Eatius birdicus, etc. Genus then species. End of lecture you crazy Homo sapiens.

Today, when I found myself at ASDM, I rushed to the place where the lovely flower grows and snapped more pictures.

Not at all suggestive. It's like she wants to be smelled.
Sorry, you've got the wrong guy.

Then I saw something I hadn't seen before. Maybe it was new. but it changed everything.

Waltzing Matilija - Sort of Australian
I prefer dark CHICALOTE
Wait, Romneya coulteri?!?

no. No. NO. NO! I slowly and reluctantly came to the realization that this couldn't be coincidence. Now, I'm not the least bit petty. I'm closer to the most bit petty, at least when it comes to politics. So, to discover that the one and only flower, able to make such an impression on me was named after Mittens (hat tip @lalunkee) Romney and Ann Coulter was a little like raining on my parade if the rain was produced by flying monkeys with OAB. I tried pronouncing it rohm-nay-ah cool-teh-ree but it didn't make me feel any less like clawing my eyes from their sockets and then clawing out the sockets. I'd rather not talk about my feelings toward either of these people. This is mostly because I don't want to be reminded of the distance in my mind between them and my (gulp) feelings for this flower.

I've learned that there is a Dolly Parton Rose, a Marilyn Monroe Rose (Marilyn Monrose?), and even a Julie Androse. Apparently botanist like women and roses. Now, obviously I'm no botanist, yet it's obvious that we share some interests. But it's even apparent to me that these aren't Latin names, they're nicknames.

@ZipZipskins says, "You really need to get to know Wikipedia." He tells me that The Romney genus is named for John Thomas Romney Robinson, an astronomer. Sorry, John Thomas . I'm so relieved. Now, I can concentrate on the tune to "Waltzing Matilda" when I look at these pictures instead of, you know, the other thing. 

Despite my efforts, this hasn't stopped me from applying the moniker to the Romney campaign. Once upon a time, Romney may have been a little closer to being a Romneya rockefelleri. I wouldn't have agreed with him about everything, but there was some overlap. His political views have metamorphosed and devolved so many times that now he's - it hurts to say this - Romneya coulteri.

According to Wikipedia, (are you reading this, @ZipZipskins?) in 1890, the California Poppy and Romneya coulteri were nominated for the honor of being California's state flower. Romneya coulteri lost in a landslide. Here's hoping history repeats itself.

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