Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Recalling Chickweed and Other Stellar Events

Star chickweed flowers

When I first noticed this stuff last spring on Williams River, I knew I ought to know what it was. I wish I had the recall to say "What a large and showy chickweed!" or something else on the mark. But I just fumbled around in the back rooms of my brain, muttering, "Looks like little stars...." Which, of course, is not true. After paging through a few field guides and floras this spring, I figured it out: Stellaria pubera, or great chickweed. "Chickweeds look like little stars" was how I once learned to remember the genus name Stellaria. So, I remembered the memory aide, but not the piece of information it was meant to retrieve. There was a university professor who used to tell us grad students, "I've forgotten more than you'll ever know." The guys used to get really aggravated. I laughed when he told me, and said, "Oh, no doubt. I've already forgotten more than I'll ever know." It was true then, and it's getting truer every day.

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