Archive for August 9th, 2008

The 100 Species Challenge

August 9, 2008 @ 6:18 am | Filed under: ,

Updated to add this link to our family’s running list.

At The Common Room I learned about the 100 Species Challenge, the brainchild of scsours over at xanga. The idea, sparked by a quote about how few people can name a hundred plant species in their own neighborhood, is to become the exception to that observation by learning to identify the flora of your own surroundings.

Back in Virginia, we could have filled up our list right quick! But here in San Diego, as I’ve mentioned before, a good many of the plants are new to us. No longer can I dazzle my family with my encyclopedic horticultural knowledge. Nowadays, our jaunts around town are full of conversations along these lines:

Scott: “Ooh, pretty flowers. What are those called?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Scott, incredulous: “But…but…but that’s your job!”

Which means, I guess, that all the other stuff I do around here is just a hobby. 😉

(Melissa Wiley: changes diapers for fun.)

Anyway. The 100 Species Challenge sounds like just what I need to regain my former lofty position as Family Guru of Flora and Fauna. (I’m thinking we’ll add fauna to our challenge: a second hundred-species list.)

Here are the rules:

1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge. I will make a sidebar list of anyone who notifies me that they are participating in the Challenge.

2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant’s home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.

3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears. My format will be as follows: the numbered list, with plants making their first appearance on the list in bold; each plant making its first appearance will then have a photograph taken by me, where possible, a list of information I already knew about the plant, and a list of information I learned subsequent to starting this challenge, and a list of information I’d like to know. (See below for an example.) This format is not obligatory, however, and participants can adapt this portion of the challenge to their needs and desires.

4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.

5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.

6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two–“camillia” if not).

7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge. You can make it as quick or as detailed a project as you like. I’m planning to blog a minimum of two plants per week, complete with pictures and descriptions as below, which could take me up to a year. But you can do it in whatever level of detail you like.

I will probably create a separate page for our running lists: link to come.* The kids can help me keep it updated. It’s going to be fun to see how many we know right off the bat. We really have already learned a great deal in our almost two years here. (Can you believe it has been almost two years?)

Okay, what this project needs now is a pretty little button.** I would pester Alice Cantrell for one of her beautiful watercolors but it’s her gardening season and she just might be a tad busy!

*No time like the present: here it is!

**I tried my hand at a few (and stuck one in up above). Other contributions welcome.

Updated to add: Here’s a Flickr page for our Challenge as well.