I'm also enjoying the walks on campus, where spring wildflowers abound. I managed to get in a bunch of pictures before they mowed this past week.
I've always thought of primrose as a houseplant that's been overbred like goldfish and has nothing to do with nature, but it grows all over the place here.
There are as many as 30 species of wild wheat native to Turkey. These plants are kind of like the "original" wheat, ancestors to the food wheat growing all around the world. This makes Turkey one of four gene centers of cultivated plants. Of course, genes from the ancestor plants can now be used to introduce (or re-introduce, I should say) desirable qualities like disease resistance and hardiness to cultivated varieties that have started to lose these qualities.
I'm not a big fan of biotechnology and genetic engineering of food crops, but I still think that's kind of cool.
Most of the grass around campus is what I call meadow grass-- it's really just nice, green, sensible groundcover that doesn't need much tending or water, and I doubt it's ever fertilized because why bother fertilizing what would be weeds on a manicured lawn? Meadow grass is lovely and what makes a weed is highly subjective.
As of 2007, our good and forward-thinking Ministry of Agriculture started allowing the cultivation and sale of GM foods in Turkey. Europe has been pretty strict on the growing and selling these products, but Turkey, unfortunately, has not, and instead has allowed Monsanto (a company that represents, to me, pure evil) to sell Roundup Ready seed such as sugar beets, corn, and cotton as well as many vegetable and feed crops.
A creepy aside to this is a few months ago, I saw the Ministry of Education on the news "informing" everyone that Israel was engaging in some sort of attempt to make Turks weak and sick with their GM crops. "Eh?" I thought. Where did they suppose the Monsanto seeds would be coming from when they let them in? They're only grown in like 5 places on earth, and Israel is the closest. Is there so little communication between ministers? At least that report went a long way towards explaining the state of education here, just as Minister Kavak's comments on gays and TV kissing went a long way towards explaining the government's ability to look after women and families.
Without getting into the evils of Roundup and Roundup Ready food and Monsanto's evil plan to rule the universe with its particular brand of obnoxious evil, I find this deeply disturbing. It's not just the cellular toxicity of Roundup (particularly on fetal cells), but the possibility of wild plants being contaminated by GM seed. Then there's the economic side of it, where Monsanto sends out its evil lawyers to sue farmers who knowingly or unknowingly grow Roundup Ready crops without paying Monsanto.
I put this picture here to lighten the mood a little because Monsanto sucks and these flowers hanging out next to the clover are an adorable opposite of suckiness.
Then I read this whole thing about conservation efforts in Turkey, and it appears some positive steps are being taken. One problem is cyclamen, specifically a rare variety called mirabile. Mirabile bulbs, as well other cyclamen and tulip bulbs, are quite valuable. Naturally, some assholes in so-called developed countries have decided to take advantage of the villagers who wildcraft these bulbs as their livelihood. The way it works is, you keep the villagers in a perpetual state of borderline starvation so they'll go slave away in the forests digging up as many bulbs as possible, by giving them as little money as possible no matter what they dig up-- relatively worthless bulbs as well as the expensive ones. The plant populations become depleted, and some guy in Europe makes a bunch of money and labels the packages with "Grown the Netherlands" or whatever so consumers don't suspect they're buying something unscrupulous.
I think these green petals are a false flower around real ones that haven't bloomed yet. They're like a gentle geometrist's ode to symmetry.
So at least there are some good conservationist people out there teaching the villagers cultivation techniques and sustainable harvest so they'll one day be able to make a bunch of money off the foreign buyers, who very much deserve to be screwed.
And this, in a nutshell, is why we poor liberals will never get it together. The causes are endless, as well as the types of people and places our hearts bleed for. Ecology, in particular, is a mess because it's never a unified cause. Didn't anyone get "The Circle of Life" stuck in their heads after watching "Lion King?" Instead, there's one group of bleeding hearts throwing money at the sea turtles while other is worrying about cyclamen. Then there are all the other folks upset about human rights and women and education and freedom of the press. Then you have to decide if you feel sorrier for the Syrians or the Bahraini Shias or the Haitians or the whole rest of Africa and most of Southeast Asia and who your favorite sad group in Pakistan or Afghanistan is this week, plus the Aral Sea and it never ends. We have a lot to be concerned about.
We have these in Oregon, too. They have soft, fuzzy leaves and can be used to wipe a little boy's nose in a pinch...
Not that people should stop helping women and journalists and villagers and sea turtles and cyclamen. I just think we'd be a lot more successful if we had a nice, simple conservative agenda: God=good, rich people and corporations=good, guns=good. Abortion, queers, communists, terrorists, flag-burners and anything weird or foreign=bad.
When I found this blue stuff by the side of the road, I was all, "Ooh, a fascinating unnaturally blue fungus of some sort!" But when I poked it with a stick, it turned out to be puke. Quite why there's so much puke along the road to the professor housing I'm not sure I want to know. And I definitely don't want to know what this puker had eaten before puking. I'm sure it had something GM in it though...