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Plants of the Western Slope February 10, 2016

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Photo by Al Schneider A flower of many names.

Single Delight

Another gray day. I enjoy the view of the Grand Mesa from our dining room window but this morning the view is discouraging ... gray, gray, and more gray! We can usually see snow-covered Crag Crest but now it doesn't look much different than the gray slopes of the mesa or the gray clouds. When we first came to the Delta area, I was determined to hike Crag Crest on the Grand Mesa. Now that was a time back! I never made the entire hike -- too many flowers demanding my attention!

When I tried to walk the crest trail, I hadn't gone far when I found a delightful white flower at the edge of the path. I realized that I was looking at the underside of the blossom for it was "nodding" -- that is, face downward. I could see five petals, a long flower stem, and inch-wide green leaves. It was a new flower for me!

As I stood admiring it, I realized that there were more ... six in all. I quickly found my plant in Wingate's "Rocky Mountain Flower Finder" in the Wintergreen family, Pyrolaceae as Moneses uniflora. I judged the flower stalk to be less than six inches tall. I stepped off the path and lifted one of the blossoms right side up. There were 10 stamens and a shiny stigma.

When I got home, I checked my references and there was my plant in the family of Pyrolaceae. For this column, I went to Al Schneider's website and found that my plant occurs in Europe, and in 1753 it was given the name Pytola uniflora. Names! And my little plant has had plenty of them! Now it is Moneses uniflora with Greek mono meaning "one" and hesis meaning "delight." And, to my dismay, I find that the plant has been moved to the Heath family (Ericaceae) -- with rhododendron and manzanita! I well remember when such findings would ruin a night's sleep! But not any more, since I know that such changes occur with modern research which is completely out of my ken!

On this gray day, if I close my eyes, I can see my pretty little flower. Memories are for gray days! I know that it's up there, under the snow.

Read more from:
Surface Creek
Evelyn Horn, Plants of the Western Slope
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