Sunday, 24 January 2016

Oh Heck, it Ain't Mecha-meck!

During my blog's fallow phase, a few brave souls have continued to leave comments. I've just been moderating and publishing them. Turns out there were some interesting ones, but what really caught my attention was a message from Ron Kushner. Ron is an authority on all things Ipomoea -  I am a mere dilettante.  So when he politely lets me know that the seeds I received in good faith as I. pandurata, with their fabulously weirdy-beardy appearance, are in fact I. macrorhiza, I listen.

Just like the chuckle-inducing Corrections and Clarifications section in the Grauniad (sic), I am going to have to make a retraction. When I said "oh heck, here's mecha-meck", I was wrong. What I should have said is "oh heck, it's from Yucatan". 

It seems that I. macrorhiza has a distinctly southerly distribution, being found on the coast in the south eastern states of the USA. One theory is that it was transported there from Mexico by First Nations people, possibly as a food source. I. pandurata is found much further north and, by inference, ought to be a lot hardier than the southern softie that is I. macrorhiza.

The proof, as Ron has pointed out, lies in the seeds. Compare and contrast: 

Here's 'my' mecha-meck: an artisan-brewing, kimchi-gobbling hipster with splendid and extravagant whiskers:

Ipomoea macrorhiza

The true mecha-meck is more of a designer stubble aficionado:
Ipomoea panudurata (image courtesy of University of Missouri)

I suppose this late onset revelation is actually a bit of a relief; the impostor's growth and winter survival was, let's face it, a big disappointment. Without reworking the tired Spartacus allusion yet again, I'd rather the true mecha-meck reveal itself and we can all get on with our lives. 

On that note, in true one-step-forwards-two steps-back fashion, I must now throw myself on the tender mercies of East Coast USA rhizophiles.  Say, can anyone provide me with seeds of the true mecha-meck? 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Now We Are Seven

There's plenty of talk about work/life balance these days. No one mentions work/life/blog balance, however. It seems like Radix has fallen victim to an egregious lopsidedness of the latter. Work commitments, family illness, all combined with a slothful nature and inborn lethargy, have conspired to leave my blog unupdated for one whole year. Keep this up and I could win a Darwin Award for blogging.

Just like A A Milne's poem 'Now We are Six', in which the author expresses the desire to remain at the age of six in perpetuity, it seems as though my blog is following suit. That's not to say that I haven't been continuing my root researches, albeit in an attenuated, fitful and truncated fashion. I just haven't managed the transfer from mud-encrusted notebook to blog. As I write, I'm struggling to remember how this digital interface actually works..... So I find myself on the eve of this blog's seventh birthday, attempting to reassert its existence. Not drowning, but waving.

One project that has occupied me over the last year, is the Guild of Oca Breeders, an attempt to set up a Europe-wide oca breeding collective and citizen science project. Last year, we sent out about 150 seedling varieties to people from Spain to Sweden. We're still waiting to analyse the data, but it confirms what I already knew: most people are much better growers than I am. There's a mini backlog of a few unpublished posts that I really ought to tidy up and publish, too.

So like Bobby Vee (before my time, natch) and his rubber ball, I'll come bouncing back to you. Soon, anyway. Hopefully.

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