Friday, March 6, 2015

Biology & nature study– Forsythia “Forsythia Intermedia”

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Blankets of these are everywhere right now!  Some people trim them into bushes, some allow them to free-form as sprawling shrubs, but anywhere they are, they are covered in yellow blossoms and just asking to be admired!  Any bees that are out and about right now are sure to notice these wonderful bright blossoms!

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Once again, this shrub flowers before it puts out leaves.  You can see the leaf buds just starting to bulge at the tips of each twig but the flowers are already in full bloom along the stalk.  Each cluster of deeply 4-lobed yellow flowers has several blossoms.  The flowers are each about 1 – 1.5 inches across and the branches are a light green/brown and darken to a grey/brown as they age past their first season.

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The kids really enjoyed drawing this one.  It’s just so bright and happy!  Logan got to use the watercolor pencils for the first time and was really excited to see how he could move the paint around the paper to create shading. 

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I was shocked that this shrub isn’t in The Handbook of Nature Study!  I was sure it would be when I went to look, but alas.  I don’t think they have much of this beautiful shrub on the East Coast where Anna Botsford Cromstock lived as she wrote The Handbook. 

The Forsythia is actually in the same family as the Olive Tree!   They were brought as cultivars from the Far East and have done so well here that many other varieties have been developed. 

The pollen of this shrub is similar to the flowering quince but smaller with a distinctive ridge in the center of each slightly oval pollen cell.  Forsythia pollen – 40x:

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Such a fun plant to draw, and so beautiful!

Any ideas what I could do with all of these pollen pictures?  They are so interesting but when I look up pollen science all I find is forensics!  They mostly use pollen science to tell where someone was when they died!  Morbid but true.  So I am trying to gather some ideas as to what I could do with these pictures that would actually help my kids in biology.  What do you think?


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