1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brassicaceae, Formerly Known As Cruciferae: Why Did the Name Change?

Taxonomy takes a curious turn at times that is hard for me to follow. When and why, for instance, did the cruciferous plants suddenly find themselves in a family now known as Brassicaceae? The crucifers, those minikins of towering mustard descent--cabbage, broccoli, and kale among them--are easily identified by the cross shape formed by the four petals of their flowers. Other characteristics, such as the number and arrangement of stamens (male part of the flower), six in all--two short and four tall--also serve to set them apart from other plants, as you can see hereCruci-, the Latin prefix meaning cross, helps me to remember where a plant with cross-shaped blooms belongs in the scheme of things. Somehow, Brassica, derived from the Celtic word bresic (meaning cabbage), doesn't tickle my memory in quite the same way.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same;
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came...

(from the poem "As Kingfishers Catch Fire" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877)

I think I'm a politically incorrect gardener at heart. Those pretty yellow flowers will not be lopped off any time soon just to make the garden look uniform and boringly green. I am still harvesting and enjoying the leaves of this cruciferous veggie. Do you know what it is? What's your favorite recipe for it? I have been experimenting with different ones. Last Thursday for supper, I prepared a bed of chopped whatever-it-is, onions, celery, and various herbs for baking a quartered chicken in the iron skillet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. I removed most of the chicken skin to cut down on the fat content, and a little olive oil on the bottom of the well-seasoned skillet prevented anything from sticking to it. Sliced carrots would have been a good addition to the dish, but I was out of them. A trip to the grocery store would have to wait until the next day, Good Friday, and so would a visit to the bank and making some bill payments by mail. Yes, you can do all of those things and more on what used to be a holiday. All of the schools locally were closed last week for "Spring Break," and county officials had Friday off. It's no wonder the beach was so crowded when SAM and I decided to go there Friday afternoon. He had the day off too, but he had to redeem one of his precious few vacation days to claim it. We avoided the crowd and drove west to Fort Pickens.
Here, you can see where the Gulf waters mix with those of the Sound in the Pass. You can observe the tide changing from ebb to flood here, twice a day, every day. We watched a man in a kayak coming into the Pass from the Gulf of Mexico just as the tide changed to flood. He struggled against the tide for a few minutes, paddling like mad without much progress as the change began to occur, and then the tremendous momentum of the water streaming landward helped him move forward without much effort at all.

Yesterday we watched our grandson hunt for the chocolates-filled plastic eggs that Grandpa SAM had hidden around the yard. It didn't take long for him to find two dozen of them. He only needed to be pointed in the right direction, occasionally redirected, and he was off and running to fill his basket. Some traditions are just too good to change or forget.


  1. Micah has gotten so big! I bet he and you guys had a blast yesterday. The weather sure has been gorgeous! P.S. Looks like I don't have to travel. Yeah!

  2. Awww your grandson is adorable. Yes may they never stop the Easter egg hunts. I will never forget mine oh so long ago..
    I love reading your blog. I am going to start on the garden portion of my blog pretty soon. Yes I can procrastinate at times.
    Love all your stories and the photo's to go with them!

  3. Your grandson looks so delighted and I see you had great fun too. Nice post, W2W!

  4. I wanted to go and photograph the church Easter egg hunt Saturday morning but it rained. I think they had it inside somewhere but that's no fun. Looks like you have beautiful weather there.

  5. Your grandson look so happy and beautiful. I enjoyed this post. I am definitely not a correct gardener. My garden often takes a walk on the wild side.

  6. Tina, I'm glad that you got to stay home. It's such a busy time of year for gardeners, especially ones that blog!

    Sandy, I'd love to tell you how much I procrastinate, but we would be sitting here until Doomsday before I even get started! I'll be checking on your garden's progress so I can indulge a little in that kindred spirit of procrastination. ;>}

    Thank you, Chandramouli. I read your post about the weeds, and I'm still trying to figure out the name of your "princess." I'm too chicken to venture a guess, but I will be back to check on what other people have suggested and then leave a comment. Am I brave or what?

    Marnie, our grandson was supposed to participate in an egg hunt at church, but apparently the event was called off. I'm wondering if it had anything to do with an important someone (think big donor) complaining about egg hunts being non-religious? LOL!

    Carver, if I had to live in a subdivision that required strict order and conformity, I would probably howl at the moon. I'm glad that you liked the post.

  7. I can see your greens are different from mine! Mine are Georgia Collards...what are yours??? They grow in a very pretty fashion towering upward! Cool. I am not good with scientific names anyway...I actually try and ignore them (LOL...don't tell SAM, the scientist that)!!!
    Micah is a doll. I know how much fun he had doing the egg hunt with you...we had to do more after the church one when we got home anyway...of course!!!

  8. I don't know when Brassicaceae became the preferred name, but it couldn't have been that long ago since it is the only one I know for them.

    Although, I agree with you that I like it when I can tell something about the plant by the Latin name for it.

    btw, I just saw your comment. LOL. No, they weren't sweat peas. That was a typo.

  9. I'm still struggling with the difference between cabbage and kale, let alone anything else. Still, if they did change the name, I wouldn't know. It's still all new to me!

  10. Now you know why I howl at the moon... I am a nonconformist by heart and always have been since I was kid..and yes, I have paid for that.. Your grandson is adorable.. Michelle

  11. What a clever little boy to find all those eggs hidden by the Easter bunny. He looks thrilled with himself!

  12. What an adorable grandson you have! My kids are to the point now of thinking egg hunts are silly. (teenagers)

  13. Your grandson is certainly growing up, W2W! But thankfully he's not too big to have outgrown Easter egg hunts. We had the first sunny Easter Sunday that I can remember in years and enjoyed it thoroughly with the grandkids taking turns hiding Easter eggs in the yard. One of my favorite traditions, too.

    I didn't know what your plant was until I saw the label at the bottom of your post, but no wonder because I've never planted collard greens before. I don't pay a lot of attention to taxonomical names--I have enough trouble remembering the common ones:) But I do see the relationship to the cabbage family here--when I've grown broccoli and let it go to seed, it produces the same kind of yellow flowers.

  14. aloha tina,

    i really enjoyed your post on the Brassicaceae, so enjoyable as a read and the history...i usually use this as a stir fry with my other vegetables in usually an asian sauce also, i can use it in stews or soups depending on what else i have in the fridge, its such a versatile plant...thank you for sharing this with us today.

  15. I will continue to call them cruciferous veggies, and yes... Easter egg hunts are cool

  16. Julie, I'm pretty sure that the variety I planted last fall was Blue Max, one that is more prone to bolting when exposed to cold temps for a long period of time. And I always thought that cool weather crops bolted when warm weather came. SAM has trouble remembering the common names of plants let alone the scientific ones. Turn him loose with a bunch of rocks, though, and he becomes a human encyclopedia.

    No sweat, MBT, about the typo. I do it fairly often myself. "Sweat peas" sounds kinda neat, anyway.

    IG, I'm glad I'm not the only one bemused and befuddled when it comes to gardening. We'll just have to muddle through it together.

    Michelle, I just noticed your new avatar! Cool! Yeah, as for the nonconformity, when I was a kid I was known as the family skeleton in the closet--skinny to the point of being bony and apt to say things like "like a rock on a stick" instead of "like a bump on a log." At least there's no danger of mistaking me for a skeleton now! LOL!

    Ann, he's so clever he has figured out the one sure way to stall bedtime at Grandma's house--asking for another story to be read.

    Rosey, maybe you should hide quarters or, better yet, silver dollars in the eggs instead of candy. They might not think it's silly to hunt for eggs then.

    Rose, I love it when Easter falls in April instead of March. The weather stands a much better chance of being warm and sunny. Grandkids are the best gift any parent could receive, aren't they? Collards are new to this former Illinoisan too. They're more of a Southern garden specialty.

    Aloha, Noel! I'm not Tina, but that's okay. She's a great person, and I don't mind being mistaken for her at all:) I think that the versatility of the cruciferous veggies is what makes them so popular around the world. They're also fairly easy to grow and packed with good nutrition, so I will be including them in my garden from now on.

    Yay, Wayne! You know where my heart is on both items.