Name that Plant, installment 4

Two-for-one edition

The hundred species challenge has quite taken off, even while some of us early adopters have been neglecting the project. Isaac's entry into the fray, however, is the thing that has inspired me to get back on board. I have no inclination to match Paige's prolific posting, but I will try to keep up with Isaac.

No pictures today, because I'm (a) lazy and (b) embarrassed of my poor, sickly plants.

1. Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)
2. Agapanthus (Lily-of-the-Nile)
3. Meticago sativa (Alfalfa)
4. Fuschia
5. Cosmos
6. Mentha spicata(Spearmint)
7. Ipomoea (Morning glory)

8a. Cucurbita pepo: Zucchini

As it turns out, we are not being inundated with more zucchini than we can handle. (Which perhaps is just as well, since the freezer is already full of other fruit.) There is one ripe, healthy gourd left among our four plants, but the new fruit are withering before they get big enough to harvest, and the leaves display ill health.

I'm afraid this year's zucchini patch is terminal. At first I thought maybe they were just thirsty, given my erratic watering (which I'm sure didn't help matters -- although my failure to avoid wetting the leaves may have been a bigger problem than the frequency of the watering). But it now seems that GrandDad's speculation that they've got some kind of virus is a better explanation. (It may also be a fungus. I'm no zucchini-diagnosis expert.)

Ah, me. I had assumed that since zucchini are so notoriously prolific, they would be prit' near impossible to kill. Better luck (and new location, and more careful watering) next season, I suppose. At least we got several weeks worth of good squash before the plants succumbed.

8b: Cucurbita pepo: Pumpkin

If you're trying to learn the names of as many "local" species of plants as you can, seems a bit unfair that your pumpkin and zucchini belong to the same species. One is skinny and green, the other is round and orange! One is a summer vegetable, the other is a fall vegetable! Zucchini and yellow squash, okay, I could get used to that idea -- but zucchini and pumpkin? It just doesn't seem right...

Then I was chopping up our last supersized zucchini for zucchini apple bread this weekend, and noticed that, aside from the shape and color of the outer rind, it did bear a striking resemblance to a pumpkin. And if you let a marrow squash grow to maturity rather than harvesting it young (and why would you do that, other than to collect seeds?), it would resemble a pumpkin even more. So. I guess it makes sense, after all.

In fact, the common name "pumpkin" refers to several species. Did you know that the pumpkin you buy in the grocery store in cans to make into pie or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (yum) is almost certainly a different species (cucurbita moschata, with light skin and smooth surface) than the pumpkin you buy in front of the grocery store to carve into a jack-o-lantern? The super giant pumpkins that you see at the county fair are yet another species (cucurbita maxima). And our pumpkin might be some kind of hybrid -- the seed pack didn't identify the exact botanical name. But I'm pretty confident in my identification of cucurbita pepo, so I'm sticking to it.

GrandDad planted the pumpkin seeds a month or two ago from seeds that were several years old, so we weren't sure they'd come up. Just when we were about to give up on them, they sprouted, and have grown into a healthy, growing vine now in bloom. (The structure of the vines is different from the zucchini, but the yellow flowers look remarkably similar.) I'm nervous that it will catch whatever the zucchini's dying from, but so far it's doing fine.

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