Category: News from the Library
November 13, 2009
News from the Library
Hello all and welcome newcomers:
The new titles list is again rich in magazine articles this month. Let me know if you are interested in any of the new titles. The item can be mailed if necessary.
I'm looking forward to "Reading the Western Landscape." The Arboretum Library is starting a book group that will explore the portrayal of western North American landscape in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The group will meet the 1st Thursday of the month with the initial organizational meeting on Thursday January 7, 2010, 7:00 p.m., at the Arboretum Library. We will use the Shared Inquiry™ method developed by the Great Books Foundation (see www.greatbooks.org). The first meeting will cover introductions, a brief discussion of the Shared Inquiry method, reading a short selection; having a brief discussion; determining a reading list for future months; assigning tasks and leaders, etc. Bring your enthusiasm and ideas for our explorations. If you have book suggestions now let me know at Susan.Eubank@Arboretum.org
50 Common Edible & Useful Plants of the Southwest
By David Yetman, (Tucson, Arizona : Western National Parks Association 2009)
Arboretum Library call number: QK98.5.U58 W47 Y48 2009
Reviewed by Bill Ramsey, Library Volunteer
This is a fascinating field guide to 50 plants common in the southwest ranging from agaves to walnuts. The author has included some historical notes about who first used the plants, for what purpose, and, in the case of food, how it was prepared.
Some food preparations he discusses are really different. An example is making tortillas from prickly pear seeds ground into flour. It’s just difficult to believe you can simply cut the blooms off pour the seeds out, grind them into flour and make a better-than-corn tortilla.
The author dispels many myths concerning plants. For example, the barrel cactus not really a source of water as it thought to be in some quarters. He points out you can dig the pulp out of the barrel portion and squeeze out a little bitter fluid if you can cut the top off. However, cutting off the top requires an axe or machete while avoiding the tough, wire like spines, Not exactly satisfying or do-able if you’re really dehydrated.
On the negative side his descriptions of the plants fall short in some instances. A novice would run into difficulty distinguishing between elderberry and graythorn unless they were very observant.
In summary the book is a well-written ethnobotany of the region. It’s an easy read plus many of the recipes look temping.
The Mushroom Exhibit will be closing at the end of December. Come visit and see the models before they go back in storage.
Thanks for reading!
Susan C. Eubank
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
301 North Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, California 91007
October 13, 2009
News from the Library
Hello all and welcome newcomers:
Here is the new titles link to the online catalog. There are some interesting magazine articles. The Botanical Society of South Africa’s Veld & Flora comes through again with a wonderful story about a very dramatic looking plant that was thought to be extinct. Fire brought it back.
This month, library volunteer, Pamela Wolken reviews Amy Stewart’s first book:
"The whimsically provocative title The Earth Moved (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005) opens the door to about 1.5 centuries of earthworm scholarship. Amy Stewart does a superb job of framing a huge subject into a readable, informative, encouraging tale of an ancient creature perfectly suited for the 21st century. A vermicomposter for seven years (or so, at the time of her writing), Ms. Stewart is sparked to study by the story of Charles Darwin after the voyage of the Beagle. His uncle, Josiah Wedgwood, observed that objects left on the ground, would be covered in soil. He hypothesized that he was seeing the work of earthworms. The rest, as they say, has become “common knowledge” of an uncommon creature: worms are good for the Earth.
Modern oligochaetologists (from the worm’s taxonomic class: Oligochaeta) have continued the work of this ubiquitous and elusive subject that eschews light while busily digesting all manner of soil and toxins. Not all is rosy, and there are plenty of cautions against dumping left over live fishing bait willy-nilly in the environment. There are studies in Michigan of non-native worms destroying forests in ways unimagined, yet observed by Darwin.
Meanwhile, worms go on about their business whether on their own, in captivity for fertilizer, or in the service of scouring up the messes of people from DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and biosolids (human excrement). Worms are able to ingest environmental toxins with no harm to themselves, which can not be said of the worm’s predators. Birds dead of eating toxic worms helped lead to the banning of DDT and PCBs in the 1970s. Wetlands are being restored and rebuilt with the inestimable assistance of earthworms who, to date anyway, don’t seem to mind being exploited as long as they have adequate conditions for their own prosperity.
Read this book.”
Our current exhibition on mushrooms in the Library Reading Room will be here until the end of the year. Come and visit.
The Arboretum Library hours are:
Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Remember we are circulating to Arboretum members. The circulation period for books is 3 weeks with 2 renewals if no one else wants the item. You can renew by e-mail, phone or in person. The circulation period for current magazines is 3 days with 2 renewals if no one else wants the item.
Our Botanical Information Consultants (for plant advice) are currently available seven days a week. David.Lofgren@Arboretum.org or Frank.McDonough@Arboretum.org or 626-821-3239.
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