Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Forgotten time recaptured.

Unknown butterfly on rose
 In the process of poring over slides for another purpose, I keep finding these random shots that I will never use (why would I)--like this butterfly. Slightly out of focus. And another Rosa incognita. Should I just delete them now? Why have them cluttering up the computer? There on a distant hill, in the Kalbinsky hills half way between Oskamenogorsk and Maimyr (names that mean little to you, perhaps, and meant nothing to me ten years ago, but which shine bright as jewels in my heart today)...on the western foothills of the Altai Mountains of Kazakhstan I wandered a few minutes taking pictures.

Orostachys spinosa
 I probably have fifty pictures taken everywhere in the Altai of Orostachys spinosa: a few I've used in talks, I've posted a few on the Facebook Stonecrop pages, and a few were published in the Sedum journal, and maybe the rock garden club's? This one didn't make it into any of's not dazzling, and will not probably end up anywhere else except image files, and in my memory (the two are becoming increasingly synonymous...)

Orostachys spinosa
 A closeup of the latter--I suppose this will reside patiently nearby the other dozens of pictures I have of this plant. And I can go home and see equally prolix numbers of a similar plant (not quite the same--mine is all gray, from another Asian locale--I should have made sure I got some of this one too)...

Clematis integrifolia
 This was a few feet further away in a moist swale. We saw this clematis a hundred times at least--and probably photographed it at half those times, although it looked pretty much the same everywhere in the Altai. And yet I have a half dozen integrifolia in my home garden, none of which look like this. The picture taunts me: I want THIS one. NOW! And here it is...(do we possess a plant any more if it happens to be in our garden or in our computer files?)

Dracocephalum sp.
 What a flower garden! look carefully--there are some Orostachys lurking on all sides of the Dracocephalum, whose name I knew back then and forgot to put on the image...I hope we got seed! Looks like some was ripening right there...the pink Astragalus look enormous--but are they? and what IS that yellow thing? The more I look the more I see--look, there's foliage of an iris on the right? Iris scariosa? I. albertii? another one? I don't recall seeing iris here when I was there...That must be Vladimir up above! Never have enough shots of HIM!

Dracocephalum sp.
A more glamorous shot of the Dracocephalum: now I'm quite distraught about it: must see if any germinated! And is that a pasqueflower on the lower right? I don't recall pasqueflowers there...

Astragalus sp.
 The Astragalus doesn't look so enormous in this shot. Looks like our native Oxytropis lambertii...did we ever find seed? How on earth will I key it out--there are so many hundreds there...even more Orostachys lurking on the rocks (I swear they were everywhere underfoot), and that mysterious potentilla lower right that grew everywhere in dense mats and never showed any signs of seed either in the spring or later summer when we were there. What could it be?

Dictamnus angustifolius in bud

We got much better pictures of the gas plant in full bloom and fresher flowers on the rose--but did I ever get a good picture of that knotweed? And look! the giant flowered Hypericum in the distance!

Verbascum phoeniceum
I was focusing on the wonderful verbascum, but it's the creamy white form of Eremurus altaicus in the distance that calls to me now (we have the mullein, but the foxtail lily eludes us still...

Artemisia frigida
 Almost the identical form of fringed sage grows everywhere in Colorado: but there is something special about this one in Asia. And those lichened rocks! Looks like our lichens as well--twelve time zones away!

Equisetum? Ephedra?
 Why did I photograph this? It's interesting enough, but did I rummage around to see if there was seed or flowers?

Unknown butterfly
It should be easy enough to find this butterfly's name--it's so distinctive. Bob Pyle and Nabokov would know right off the bat (they ARE lepidopterologists after all)...oh well.

All these glimpses from a single hill at the other side of the planet--taken on a short hike--and captured in a sheaf of images that no one would see if it weren't for this blog. And to think I have many thousands, possible tens of thousands, of these ultimately forgettable, reduplicative, or just plain mediocre images that would never fit in a talk or an article or book--but take an inordinate amount of space on the hard disk--waiting...waiting...for a disk crash? Or for some other eventuality.

Meanwhile, June 24, 2009 at approximately 10:00AM has come back to life again for a while on my blog.


  1. Hi Panayoti, Could the mystery plant in the lower right of the photo labeled "Dracocephalum sp." be a delphinium?

  2. I was thinking Pulsatilla--but yes, it could be a Delphinium. It could even be Delphinium semibarbatum--which we saw in bloom when we came back a month later in 2010. Better go back and check!

  3. " Almost the identical form of fringed sage grows everywhere in Colorado: but there is something special about this one in Asia. And those lichened rocks! Looks like our lichens as well--twelve time zones away!"

    I was going to ask if they are the same lichen sp. as we have here? Does look the same.


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