Wednesday, August 13, 2008

That 100 Species Challenge

When I came across this on Lissa's blog, I cringed. First of all, I am not a botanist. Second, projects like this are like making a patchwork quilt: I admire the workmanship, but I would not have the time and patience to pursue the project myself. Best to leave it to others, I thought. Plus, the usual muddle about common names was off-putting; and anyway, I can never remember the names of half the plants I see; and how will I blog this without it taking over the whole blog? Nope. Not me.

Then I went for my daily 2 mile walk around the village. Despite my concerted effort to listen to the Confessions of Saint Augustine (unabridged, of course) on my mp3 player, I kept looking around and identifying plants against my will. I had just passed through the childhood reminiscences of the great saint when I realized I was up to a mental count of 57 species. And I wasn't even trying. But still...reading through the rules for the rest of the project, it just seemed a bit too much for me to take on.

Then, as so often happens when I'm walking, inspiration struck (Ha! I was so thrilled with the inspiration that I forgot to stop walking until mile 3!). Instead of taking the photos myself, I would hand my camera over to the two kids who would be studying biology this fall, and let them take the photos. We could work to identify each species together. And (this is the best part!!) it took them less than 20 minutes to take photos of over 100 plants!

Here are the rules:

1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge.

2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant’s home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.

3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears. I'll take the easy way...I'll post a list of species in one post, and link to the photos with captions via Picasa. I may include info about the edibility of each plant, just to keep my own interest.

4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.

5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.

6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two–”camillia” if not).

7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge. You can make it as quick or as detailed a project as you like. I’m planning to blog a minimum of two plants per week, complete with pictures and descriptions as below, which could take me up to a year. But you can do it in whatever level of detail you like.

Thanks for this, Lissa! 8-P

And away we go!

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