[Tweeters] Names of Things

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue May 13 16:33:33 PDT 2014

I've long thought how interesting the language we use to name things is, and how those meanings evolve.
Take your Bald Eagle for example. Bald Eagles have been complaining for years " hey, I ain't bald, I'm fully feathered!", which of course they are. After a long minute of research on the internet, I found that the word bald goes back to around 1300 AD when, in Middle English, bald meant " white spot", which does apply to the Bald Eagle, and other baldly named birds.
I'm sure many tweeters can relate to the Bald Eagle complaint. Given the probable demographics of tweeters, I'm wondering how many of you white headed wonders out there would like to be labeled 'Bald Tweeters'. Personally, my white is starting from the chin up, and what I'm really living for is getting my Golden Eagle free pass into our National Parks.Just a few more years to go.
Some names carry a bit of baggage. Its kind of about preconceptions. Last spring I posted about finding Rat-tailed Maggots in my home gutters in Everett. I thought that name was sort of burdensome, but really the name is pretty accurate ; while an interesting insect larvae, they are maggots and do have rat-like tails. The 'tail' being a sort of snorkel for these creatures living in anaerobic aquatic gutter conditions.
I was thinking that Rat-tailed Maggot was sort of a heavy sounding name because people do tend to get down on maggots and also rats, but last week I found a name that sounded even worse, at least out of context.
That would be the wonderful Naked Broom-rape.
I can imagine going into a number of public places, and as an excited naturalist exclaiming " I just saw Naked Broom-rape at the Golf Course here in Port Townsend!" It could result in a major Port Townsend Police raid of that facility. But that would be a great misunderstanding. Another example of our sometimes troublesome language.
That's because Naked Broom-rape is just an interesting and beautiful little plant!
I found this plant, and lots of it, while snooping around the "Kah Tai Prairie"- a little natural prairie remnant that is being nurtured by the local chapter of the Washington State Native Plant Society, right there at the Port Townsend Golf Course.
The mini- prairie is conveniently located in the golf course across the street from the temporary digs of the public library. I reported to tweeters on April 14 about the neato native flowers to be found there. Since then of course, blooming plants have changed - the Camas mostly past, another Lomatium coming up, along with a short Delphinium, the showy Death Camas, and also many Naked Broom-rapes.
Naked Broom-rape (Orobanche uniflora) is a very interesting plant with a beautiful flower. It's a short little thing maybe only 4 or 5 inches tall down in the prairie grass. A single leafless stem with a single tubular blue-purple flower with a gold throat .
So how did this little vegetable get the handle 'naked broom-rape'? Well, 'naked' refer's to the fact that this little plant has no leaves. Why? Because it's a parasite, and don't need no leaves to produce nutrients.
Broom? Well relatives of this plant in Europe are known to parasitize broom - you know, like our invasive European Scot's Broom.
Rape? Well apparently that's translated from some sort of medieval Latin and refers to roots. So the Naked Broom-rape is a plant that is a parasite on the roots of other plants. Nothing wrong with that.
So if your'e out and about in prairies, open grassy areas, mossy bald's, etc. Keep an eye out for Naked Broom-rape. You don't have to tell everyone about it.
Jeff Gibsonjust sayin'in Port Townsend Wa

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