Native, Non-Native, and Invasive

by Katie Grzesiak

Ask a biologist about the definition of a species or a poet for the definition of love, and you’ll end up with a headache.  Even the simplest definition for the most obvious thing ever is so, so easy to mess up.  Getting into something more nuanced is asking for trouble. So when I was helping some friends out with plant …

Cedar, Jelly, Rust, and Apples

by Katie Grzesiak

  The aliens have landed?  All hail His Noodly Appendages?  Shiny Tangela?  Koosh gone wrong?  Or is this one of those Japanese cartoons…? Ok, none of those; it’s a fungus fruiting on the branches of that eastern red cedar. I saw this gall (and quite a few more) on a hike the other week in Ionia County while dodging rainstorms.  It only looks …

Of Salt and Sinkholes

by Katie Grzesiak

According to the internet hivemind, sinkholes form when you divide by zero. According to Wikipedia, a sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer, usually as a part of karst landscapes.  Most often, water erodes away the stuff underneath for a while before the hole opens up.  The ones …

The Diversity of Orchids, or: “Are You Orchidding Me?”

by Katie Grzesiak

Featured image:  Michigan Orchids.  Photos:  Katie Grzesiak I really just want to talk about plants all the time; apparently having a job where I talk about plants all the time isn’t enough for me. And since you’re not the boss of me, this time I want to talk about orchids. To make a long story short, orchids (plants in the …


Plants Without Chlorophyll: It’s Easy Being Green, But Stealing is Even Easier

by Katie Grzesiak

Featured images, left to right:  pinesap, ghost plant, spotted coralroot orchid.  Photos:  Katie Grzesiak Plants are Plants Plants make their food with energy from the sun; that’s what is often used to define them as plants.  If I want to throw my degrees around, I call them “photoautotrophs,” from the Greek for “light,” “self,” and “feed.”  Photosynthesis!  It’s super neat, …