Here’s an interesting article about the origins and migration of the Bottle Gourd, or, Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria)… from the NY Times. A brief snippet below with link to the complete article.
From the New York Times article
By RACHEL NUWERBy the time Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492, bottle gourds had already conquered much of the globe. After evolving in Africa, one species,Lagenaria siceraria, made a break for East Asia around 11,000 years ago and eventually took up residence in Polynesia, China, Peru and beyond, earning the title of most widely distributed pre-Columbian domesticated plant.
The gourds have been supremely useful, too — not so much for nutrition (they taste bitter) but, when dried, as containers, medical and musical instruments, even decorative birdhouses. Despite their ubiquity, though, they have their secrets.
Archaeological evidence shows that ancient peoples living in Florida and Mexico began using them at least 10,000 years ago. Yet how they got to the Americas remained unknown… read complete article at NY Times.com
I believe this is Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. montana, formerly Arctostaphylos montana, a somewhat rare Manzanita species, photographed on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California. Not photos of the flower, sorry.
Any ID confirmation or correction greatly appreciated via the comment forum
I took these photos this weekend along a fence in Berkeley, I think its Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, but could very well be wrong or not specific enough (cultivar?).
Its nearing the end of January, unseasonably hot and dry, and these are in full bloom.
Here is a close up of the flower and leaf…
And below, the whole plant.
Asian Rainforests Affected by Men since 11,000 Years Ago
Researchers from the Queen’s University Belfast have found evidence of human intervention in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.
Forests located in Sumatra, Java, Thailand, Vietnam, and Borneo, which were previously believed to be unaffected by humans, were in fact shaped by men for at least 11,000 years.
Although it is extremely challenging to find evidence of human activity in rainforests, due to the fact that traditional archeological techniques of locating and studying sites are difficult to carry out in the forest, the researchers found out that reviewing pollen samples and published paleoecology researches may suggest human activities in the area.
They isolated pollen samples from three islands in the Southeast Asia in which they found evidence of regular intervention in the vegetation of these forests as early as the end of the last ice age.
Chris Hunt, lead author of the study and a paleoecologist at Queen’s University Belfast, said in a university press release, “It has long been believed that the rainforests of the Far East were virgin wildernesses, where human impact has been minimal. Our findings, however, indicate a history of disturbances to vegetation.”
“While it could be tempting to blame these disturbances on climate change, that is not the case as they do not coincide with any known periods of climate change. Rather, these vegetation changes have been brought about by the actions of people,” he added.
The researchers found evidence that proves the existence of humans in the Kelabit Highlands in Borneo. They also found out that human inhabitants in the area used to clear the land to plant food-bearing crops. “Pollen samples from around 6,500 years ago contain abundant charcoal, indicating the occurrence of fire,” Hunt said.
Natural occurring fires would be followed by species of weeds and trees that can grow in charred land, however, the evidence that the researchers found showed that the charred grounds were usually followed by food-bearing trees, which clearly suggests that the people who used to live there regularly cleared the forest vegetation in order to plant food-bearing crops in their place.
The study was published in the Jan. 24 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.