A Daily Walk With DietPower
Walking is the best exercise for weight loss. And the things you see!
This wildflower, which I found blooming on King Street today, might qualify as a World Wide Weed. Although native to Europe, it has spread over most of the temperate regions of the globe.
If you have a lot of experience with flowers, this one will look bizarre. It seems to have ten petals. That's very usual in the botanical world, because the number of petals on a flower nearly always belongs to the Fibonacci sequence 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55...each number being the sum of the two preceding it. Ten is not a Fibonacci number.
The Fibonacci sequence was first described by a 13th-century Italian mathematician whose nickname was Fibonacci (fib-oh-NOTCH-ee). Educated in North Africa by Moors, Fibonacci convinced all of Europe to abandon the cumbersome Roman numeral system in favor of the Arabic scheme that we use today. If you've ever tried doing long division in Roman numerals, you will bless his name.
The reason flower petals follow Fibonacci's sequence is that nature always finds the most efficient way to pack things into tight spaces—in this case, seeds in a pod. (A flower, after all, is just a plant's way of making a seed.) I'm not going to explain the math here (I'll wait for a moment while you breathe a sigh of relief), but if you're curious, you can read about it on this webpage.
If you look closely, you'll see that this flower actually has five petals (a Fibonacci number), but each petal is deeply cleft.
That is one of many strange things about the White Campion (Silene latifolia), which this flower is.
Another strange thing is that the White Campion has at least seven other names. Native to Europe, it is often called the Evening Lychnis (pronounced LIK-niss), because it opens at twilight. (Lychnis is from the Greek lychnos, meaning "lamp.") This specimen, growing in one of the shadiest parts of my walk, must have opened only because the sky was black in anticipation of a thunderstorm. I have often seen the blossoms shining in moonlight, like fallen stars.
In rural England, the White Campion is also named Flower of the Dead, because it grows around tombstones. And some claim that lychnis must come from another Greek word meaning "of a garland," since strings of these delicate flowers wreathed the necks of athletic champions. Coincidentally (or perhaps not coincidentally, if these people are right), the English campion means "champion."
Still other names include Maiden's Tears, Bull Rattle, Bladder Campion, Snake Cuckoo, Thunder Flower, White Cockle, and White Robin. I can understand White Cockle (coccel is an Old English word for "weed"). Thunder Flower could refer to its habit of opening under stormy skies. Bladder Campion refers to the spongy bladder bhind the petals (visible in the out-of-focus blossom at left). The other names mystify me.
Of all the facts above, I knew only a fraction before I took this picture. I learned some of them from a book with the hilarious title Weeds of the Northeast, which apparently is such a monumental work that it took three men to write—two Joes and a Dick. Others came to me via Google search.
Photography not only opens my eyes, but whets my curiosity. Bless its name.
About this page: Precisely at noon each day, I step out of my office for a 3.5-mile walk around my Connecticut neighborhood. I carry a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TX5 pocket camera with a Leica 10x optical zoom lens. My object is to make an interesting photograph of at least one thing that is different that day. I post the results here, hoping they will inspire you and your friends to walk, too. —Terry Dunkle, DietPower founder and CEO.
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All My Yesterdays
Thursday, June 25: A Convention of Geese
Wednesday, June 24: Painting a Scenario
Tuesday, June 23: Why Did the Beetle Cross the Road?
Monday, June 22: Clown Car
Sunday, June 21: What's Green and Sounds Like a Banjo?
Saturday, June 20: Swimming in Primroses
Friday, June 19: I Hate Deer
Thursday, June 18: Drenched!
Wednesday, June 17: They Sprang up Like Mushrooms
Tuesday, June 16: Where Time Doesn't Count
Monday, June 15: Behind a Basketball
Sunday, June 14: Flags for Elijah
Saturday, June 13: Crawling into a Daisy
Friday, June 12: Life Under a Warm Green Lantern
Thursday, June 11: Shell Game
Wednesday, June 10: Fearless Fox
Tuesday, June 9: Wet Clover
Monday, June 8: Two Bees, or Not Two Bees
Sunday, June 7: A Gorgeous Glutton
Saturday, June 6: Two Clowns
Friday, June 5: My Favorite Mailbox
Thursday, June 4: The Tomato's Deadly Cousin
Wednesday, June 3: Electric Pink
Tuesday, June 2: Lucky Boy
Monday, June 1: Six-Figure Mower
Sunday, May 31: Cool in the Shade
Saturday, May 30: Under the Butternut Tree
Friday, May 29: Awaiting a Pink Explosion
Thursday, May 28: I Shoot a Chipmunk
Wednesday, May 27: Who Dropped the Ball?
Tuesday, May 26: Out Standing in Their Field
Monday, May 25: Flags Galore!
Sunday, May 24: House of Patriots
Saturday, May 23: Memorial in a Rusty Hinge
Friday, May 22: The Sexually Clever Iris
Thursday, May 21: Raising the Wrong Baby
Wednesday, May 20: An Old Friend Is Dying
Tuesday, May 19: Crow vs. Hawk
Monday, May 18: Yours Truly
Sunday, May 17: A Wild Geranium
Saturday, May 16: War Flowers
Friday, May 15: A Mysterious Barn
Thursday, May 14: Who Invented the Microscope?
Wednesday, May 13: The Kitchen Sink
Tuesday, May 12: Slow Down!
Monday, May 11: What Lilacs Are For
Sunday, May 10: Mama Butterfly
Saturday, May 9: Gone to Seed
Friday, May 8: A Pack of Boston Terriers
Thursday, May 7: Underground Passage
Wednesday, May 6: White Violet
Tuesday, May 5: Singing His Heart Out
Monday, May 4: Kenny's Secret
Sunday, May 3: Monument to an Afternoon
Saturday, May 2: Gasoline Rainbow
Friday, May 1: The Duck and the Bashful Maiden
Thursday, April 30: A Poison Ivy Sandwich
Wednesday, April 29: The Very Picture of Spring
Tuesday, April 28: A Busy Bumblebee
Monday, April 27: Electric Pink
Sunday, April 26: Saturday Night Special
Saturday, April 25: An Old Oak Falls
Friday, April 24: How an Ant Sees a Daffodil
Thursday, April 23: The Nameless Brook
Wednesday, April 22: Weeding Time
Tuesday, April 21: Wet Apple Buds
Monday, April 20: Mr. Allen and the Crew Team
Sunday, April 19: Bloodroot II
Saturday, April 18: Green Jellybeans
Friday, April 17: Bloodroot
Thursday, April 16: Skunk Cabbage III
Wednesday, April 15: Find the Critter
Tuesday, April 14: Blessing of the Animals
Monday, April 13: The Crow Who Said "Wow!"
Sunday, April 12: A Quirky Church
Saturday, April 11: Self-Portrait in a Pothole
Friday, April 10: Easter flowers
Thursday, April 9: Dumb as a Squirrel
Wednesday, April 8: April Snow
Tuesday, April 7: Egg Trees, Connecticut Style
Monday, April 6: I Carry My Lunch
Sunday, April 5: A Tree in Spring
Saturday, April 4: Pigs with Drivers Licenses
Friday, April 3: Forsythia
Thursday, April 2: Skunk Cabbage II
Wednesday, April 1: Mystery of the Hanging Shoes
Tuesday, March 31: Downy Woodpecker
Monday, March 30: 300-Year-Old House
Sunday, March 29: The Broken Fence
Saturday, March 28: "You're Such a Delight"
Friday, March 27: Skunk Cabbage
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