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I Think I Touched Brand's Phacelia...

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Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced the comprehensive settlement of a series of Endangered Species Act lawsuits with the environmental group WildEarth Guardians.

Central to the settlement was the government's pledge to make, within the next five years, formal findings on various "candidate species" previously identified as potentially eligible for being listing as endangered or threatened. All told, such species number 251 -- some with more interesting names than others.

For example, inhabiting streams in Alabama and Florida, one finds the fuzzy pigtoe (Pleurobema strodeanum), a rather plain-looking freshwater mussel. The name reminds me of a blind date I had with a girl who really should not have been wearing sandals.

The White River beardtongue (Penstemon scariosus) refers either to a short blue-flowered shrub of the figwort family or a morning-after ailment caused by an all-night Jagermeister spree.

Hirsts' panic grass (Dichanthelium hirstii), a tall perennial grass found in wetlands along the Atlantic seaboard, is not to be confused with Cheech's Widespread Panic grass.

Then, of course, there are those species with names that sound like they came out of a urology textbook -- Sprague's pipit (Anthus spragueii), Short's bladderpod (Lesquerella globosa), and Brand's phacelia (Phacelia stellaris).

Others sound slightly more Boogie Nights. Consider, for example, the Yadkin River goldenrod (Solidago plumosa), the headwater chub (Gila nigra), or the Olympic pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama melanops). The latter is illegal in 37 states.

Still others might be found in the Kama Sutra. Consider the possibilities with the whorled sunflower (Helianthus verticillatus), the red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), or, of course, the white fringeless orchid (Platanthera integrilabia).

On a more wholesome note, others would make great names for minor league ball clubs. "Now on the mound for the Black Warrior Waterdogs (Necturus alabamaensis), Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh. He had a rough series of outings last week on the road against the Arkansas Darters (Etheostoma cragini) and the Dakota Skippers (Hesperia dacotae) but he's really hoping to turn it around tonight against the Yosemite Toads (Bufo canorus)."

And, finally, there is the Red Mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii). Otay, Buckwheat!

But one final thought. At this point, I'm sure that someone is self-righteously typing a comment that takes me to task for mocking the plight of such endangered species. A word to the wise -- don't do it. Such attention only encourages me. And you really don't want to hear what I think about the wedge spurge (Chamaesyce deltoidea serpyllum).

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