Tarweed

The smoke has kept me inside. I did go for a walk on Tuesday and regretted it—I should have worn an N95 mask. My throat was scratchy and dry for some time afterwards. Pollution from wildland fires is nasty! And the worst part of it is that the visible stuff, the ash and smoke, are not the main issue. The issue is the very small stuff, the little bits 2.5 microns and smaller. A single cell of E. coli is about 3 microns in size so these particulates are not visible to the human eye. (A micron is a micro-meter or 10-6 meter, about 0.00004 inches.)

One thing I did see on my walk was Madia elegans, also know as Common Madia, Spring Madia, or Tarweed. Here’s a photo:

Madia is regularly seen along roadsides, in uncultivated fields, and in disturbed areas. It is native to California and the West and a similar alien species Madia sativa, is found on the coasts. The flowers open up in the mornings and face the sun and then curl up in the heat of the afternoon and at night. Around here they bloom for most of the summer and as you can see they linger into autumn.

I’m not much of a photographer but here’s another shot:

Madias are known as tarweeds because of the pungent oils that make the stems and leaves sticky. The seeds were harvested by Native Americans for food.

As you can see it is a sunflower, or composite flower, known botanically as a member of the family Asteraceae.

Cigarette smoke contains “tars” as well as nicotine and these contribute to the health impacts on smokers’ lungs. I guess as I was wheezing around the block I was thinking it was like being in a room full of smokers!

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