Photo of the Week – June 23, 2017

This is a good year for sensitive briar (Mimosa quadrivalvus) in the Platte River Prairies.  Sensitive briar is a spiny perennial legume that sprawls across the ground in dry prairies and has leaves that fold up when touched or blown about by the wind.  It’s an odd plant, and one that is hard to miss when it’s blooming because each plant has numerous pink flower balls scattered across an area about the size of a large bathtub.

A sensitive briar plant blooming on a sandy hill this year in the Platte River Prairies.

Sensitive briar is named for the sensitivity of its leaves to touch, but it must also be sensitive to moisture conditions or something else.  As I was preparing to write this, I scanned through my field notes because I remembered sensitive briar being extra abundant a few years ago as well.  I was right; I’d noted an extraordinary number of plants back in 2011.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about it!  I don’t have any better explanation this year than I did back in 2011 for why this perennial plant seems to ebb and flow so much in abundance.

This katydid nymph was one of many insects enjoying the abundance (and easily accessible pollen) of sensitive briar this year.

Maybe the ebb and flow is mainly about flowering, and many of our sensitive briar plants just don’t bloom every year.  The only thing giving me pause is an experience we once had with a large plot of sensitive briar plants in our seed production garden.  One year, we thought all the plants had died because they didn’t even come out of the ground that spring.  We wondered if they’d been accidentally sprayed or something the previous year.  Fortunately, we didn’t till the plot up and start over because the next year it was filled with mature sensitive briar plants again!  It’s not that I’m looking for more data collection projects to work on, but it would sure be interesting to mark some plants in our prairies and track them over 10 years or so to see what’s going on…

Just one more fun prairie mystery to solve!

Prairie Ecologist Spam

Ok, this is pretty tangential, but I just have to share.

One component of this blog that is hidden to everyone but me is the abundance of spam comments that show up in my queue, waiting to be approved or deleted.  A spam filter catches many of them, but a fair number still slip through.  While they are annoying, some of these fake comments can also be relatively entertaining – depending upon what kind of mood I’m in.  Right now, my mood is such that I think they’re funny.  See what you think…

Some of the comments are clearly just random words put together in the hope that they will sneak past the computer-driven spam filter.  Here are a couple recent examples:

“Ϲoaϲh Factorfy Online Canada Houseknecht told police hе wouldn’t see tҺem biild a bаse, and realized he previously been scammed.”There not another facility while using the production capability we have now here,” said Flеtcher.  Usain Boolt S Coach еel exceptional on his or her birthday cеlebration”It comes with a connectiion right now.All the wɑs being attempting ravishing, Nonetheless, there were clearky anything ononsense working with her perfectly seeing that.”

“Notch the ground, and gravel. Now, the ethical dilemmas that unlicensed contractors face a maximum penalty of five Cubans sentenced to nearly $1. The third tip is to consult your local municipal offices and manufacturing, to increase the likelihood of mold and mildew. ReliableRemodeler com offers homeowners a simple and only unlicensed contractors way they recommend to area. To conclude with, and on time, every contractor satisfied and comfortable through these holes and cracks.”

Other times, spammers use language that is strongly complimentary, hoping that I will approve the comment and their website address will show up next to their published comment.  Often, I can tell they are spam just by the broad nature of the comments (having nothing to do with the topic of the post), but now and then I have to look at the name of the supposed commenter to be sure.  Here are a few of the complimentary versions:

“I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.  It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Exceptional work!”

“I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.”

“Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant opinion, post is nice, thats
why i have read it entirely”

Many of the spam comments are clearly written by non-native English speakers (e.g, the last of the above “complimentary” examples).  This can lead to some accidental, but very funny prose.  The following is the funniest spam comment I’ve seen yet:

“Excellent web site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you in your sweat!”

Hee hee!

Ok, this is a prairie blog, not BuzzFeed, so let me at least give you something with some relevance to prairies…  Look!  Here’s a picture of a sensitive briar (Mimosa quadrivalvus) flower!

A close-up photo of the flower of sensitive briar, aka cat's claw, aka Mimosa quadrivalvus, aka Schrankia nuttallii.

A close-up photo of a flower of sensitive briar, aka cat’s claw, aka Mimosa quadrivalvus, aka Schrankia nuttallii.

Here's the same flower, photographed from slightly further away to give you a little context.

Here’s the same flower, photographed from slightly further away to give you a little context.

If you want to learn more about sensitive briar, you can read this previous post.