Have you ever come across a plant in the wild that you couldn’t identify? An app called iNaturalist may be the easiest way to put a name to a leaf. Join me in a walkthrough of making an observation as I try to identify a strange plant on the coast.
The wide world is pretty… wide. Nature is full of life, to a degree that we probably don’t even realize. There’s so much out there that’s hard to make heads or tails of anything. I write these guides mostly for myself – to try and understand particular parts of the natural world – but I hope they can help other curious nature lovers as well.
Only time will tell what the final effects of the COVID shutdowns are on the environment. During the height of the lockdown, air quality improved almost immediately. NO2 and CO2 (from fossil fuels) both decreased. This effect was noticed most heavily in major cities, though arguably the whole world benefitted. Fine particulate matter, PM2.5, similarly dropped.
Plants are natural air purifiers. We put out a heck of a lot of carbon, and all plants will help reduce that to some degree. The only issue is that carbon isn’t the only thing we’re putting into the atmosphere. Our atmosphere indoors, where we’re spending so much time, is incredibly important. We put out a few other notable bad chemicals in the course of daily living – ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Check here for some plants that can clean your air!
Little moments from when I’ve really appreciated nature in the outside world.
In reality, I appreciate nature constantly. I have plants inside the apartment, and on the balcony. There’s plants I keep track of on the walk to the car, and then a pair of shrubs just outside work. I have a small garden at work, which recently got some new full-spectrum LEDs to help them thrive. I try to keep nature around me as close as I can while living in the city… and I’m known to leave the city frequently to go enjoy the nature out there.
What I’m trying to say here is – you can always find some nature to appreciate. Wherever you are, and anywhere along the path. These articles are ones where I’ve focused on appreciating nature for what it’s capable of, or what mystery it recently uncovered.
Say hello to the strange plants that encourage my natural journey.
Vasquez Rocks Park had some rain recently, and nature went wild. From blooms to berries, this is a look at two plants named after the state that responded nicely. (California Juniper, California Cholla)
Cholla cacti have wood skeletons. After they die and the water evaporates, after the skin falls off and the desert critters move in – they leave behind some wood. I never connected the plants as alive to how they were when dead.
The Beavertail Prickly-Pear Cactus (Opuntia basilaris) is a mainstay in Joshua Tree and much of the rest of the Mojave. Learn about it here!
Adventures in the Wild
The outside world has more life and wonder in it than we could ever recreate indoors. I guess that’s why recreation grew so much once we got stuck inside!
Follow along on some of my adventures in the outside world – at least the ones I decide to bring a camera for.
Usually you’ll catch me hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, or climbing in Vasquez Rocks. Sometimes I’ll be out kayaking in the Redondo Beach harbor (with plants to someday yak on a river), or just heading down the cliffs at the south of LA. Nature’s delightful everywhere.
I recently headed over to Joshua Tree, hoping to catch some stars or some snow. Neither of my hopes came true. The sky stayed overcast the whole evening, and the ground dry. And it was perfect and still and I loved every minute.
Had a wonderful day at South Coast Botanic Garden in some heavy rain. The leaves looked amazing! And the plants are holding up better than I did in the cold.
I don’t know how long the weather and the traffic will be clear, so now’s the moment. Take a chance to enjoy the desert while everything’s blooming!
Nature Appreciation on Earth
Nowadays, there’s people from all across the earth that have learned to appreciate nature. I’d say it’s about as common to meet someone that has cut down a tree than one that has tried growing one – at least around these parts. Here’s some people that appreciate nature, each in their own way:
Association of Nature and Forest Therapists (ANFT) – This is likely one of the biggest names in Forest Bathing and general Forest Therapy.
Earth First! – While their magazine may not be in print at the moment, their online fronts are still alive. And I’m sure they’re up to other activities. I first encountered one of their magazines while in a city far, far away. It was quirky, direct, and undeniably witty. I’m sad I didn’t subscribe before they halted printing.