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Dew Drops

Celebrating from Earth Day to International Biodiversity Day 2024

As seeds & sprouts characterize the resilience of Spring, we begin by focusing on botany.   So many
kinds of plant knowledge fall under this umbrella term for PLANTS and their many attributes, presenting endless 
possibilities to contribute to this integrated ecological realm.  
In native plant ecology, many observations and habitat studies emphasize the interrelationships among plants, as well as individual members of a biogeographic and cultural context.    


We begin with green beings for our Earth Day post, recognizing the many interrelationships plants support, including the endless possibilities to add to our ways of knowing and contributing to this beautiful world we share.

Meet Erythronium americanum, a woodland member of the lily family who posed in full bloom on Earth Day this year.  This genus, or "kind" of lily includes more than twenty species, most of which are native to North America, while others occur in Europe and Asia. 


The wildflower above is growing at the base of a large, dormant hardwood tree, with moss, grasses, sedges, and lichen nearby.  There is a thick layer of duff, and decomposing leaves from the previous year and fallen limbs carpet the ground. 


Waxy yellow flowers--bearing six tepals, where petals and sepals in series of three resemble one another--open on single stalks from paired basal leaves that emerge gradually as the growing season begins.  Erythronium americanum is commonly known as "Trout Lily," while a high mountain relative from the Rocky Mountains, Erythronium grandiflorum, occurs on open slopes and is called "Avalanche Lily."  They are among the first to flower during winter thaw, and may occur in the company of Claytonia, another early bloomer known as "Spring Beauty" that also includes relatives in the Americas and Asia. 

These companions among the native plant community--"flora"--share many habitat features, life strategies, and even some adaptive strategies, including being visited by a specific kind of bee as pollinator:  the Trout-lily Miner Bee (Andrena erythronii), an early spring forager considered a "specialist" bee to a limited range of host plants.

Trout Lily seeds are often spread by ants, while the leaves are well disguised from overgrazing by herbivores.  They have a small bulblet that is thought to be the source of another common name "dogtooth-violet" because of its shape and size.  

Plant Wall Art

There are many ways to contribute as a botanist.  Here are just a few examples:

  • plant identification, classification and recordkeeping (including Herbaria and field guides of all kinds)

  • conservation of native plants and their associated communities and natural sites

  • restoration of species and ecosystems

  • ecology and interdisciplinary studies, such as soil formation, mycology (fungi), and physiological interactions, among many others

  • botanical illustration as art and science 

  • education and knowledge sharing

  • traditional and contemporary understanding of plants in relation to cultures and habitat

  • ethnobotany and cultural ecology

  • wildlife and ecological interdependencies

  • biological and physical properties

  • folkloric botany

  • the many applied sciences relating to cultivation, plant propagation, agriculture

waiting for change

we stay here in safety

inches below wind-thrown

relatives who taught us

when to remain earthed,


how to hold onto the urge

to sprout when soils

pack us in, breathing

no longer possible


as roots wither nearby

and rains fall farther off,

not at all, or when they do

run across the bare skin


of our last garden,
our parents long gone,

we ourselves their final

offspring since moths, bats,


birds, bees, butterflies—

all have drifted away: 

we cannot see what they

do above ground, and


most of our community

lacks eyes—yet we know

exactly what happened;


we listened to telepathed

warnings, read the signs as

we lay deep within the world

where so many remain sleeping


while the stories carried in

our sealed endosperm

still recite our history,

remind us to take turns,


to wait out the prophecies

unfolding among us as

the bold and the impatient

have already launched skyward,


risking everything only

to wither, then disappear

in swan songs so far afield,

fungal mats drying in their wake,


those filaments that connect

us dehydrating in the vacancies

they left behind, feelers and

spores flattened by hot wind,


while we learn the messages

carried by antennae, twitching

worms, burrowers who have

given up excavating dens


and so we remain here




we buried seeds


who wait


for our world


to restore






                    cool greens


                    among the blues


                                                    among the possible.



Sylvia Rains Dennis, 7 June 2019


SylviaRainsDennis2020WetlandBiodiversity101, nightheron.JPG

The night heron that inspired this painting found me in Oregon, on a field tour during the 2017 Ecological Society of America's Annual Meeting.  

Sylvia plants these beans every year, to honor her own heritage.

Note:  "waiting for change" was presented in recitation during Seed: Climate Change Resilience--a collaboration focused on land-based peoples, cultural resilience and sustainability-- including native heritage gardens, traditional crops and heirloom as well as native seed projects, SeedBroadcast, the University of New Mexico's Art and Ecology visionaries, and the Albuquerque Museum in 2018; it belongs to a forth-coming poetry collection.


With best wishes from WILDLANDANCE, please enjoy the following ideas for sharing & engaging with our biodiverse world:

Biodiversity also reflects the continuum of every being’s presence in any life stage, for example from the germination of a pinecone seed on the forest floor to the oldest member of an old growth overstory tree, like the Ponderosa Pine trees in this photo.

Biodiversity is not just a list, but acknowledges the presence of ALL beings within the whole. That must include us, and we derive who we are from so many interconnections! Find a quiet place or sit beneath a shady tree and draw or describe your links to the world that surrounds you.

Would you enjoy making a scrapbook or keeping a journal of your thoughts and experiences, then seeing how they change for you and how the circumstances around you may shift? 


It could include descriptions, photographs, ideas, drawings, notes, poetry . . you could even tape a small piece of reflective paper or aluminum foil into a journal to serve as a mirror, helping you remember how you are part of a larger whole.

Here are some things to wonder about:

  • How are you connected to what you see, what you remember?  Use your imagination as well as observe through your senses:  for example, are you connected by scent, touch, breathing, more? 
  • What do you hear? Who lives near or far or maybe has moved elsewhere? 
  • Are you part of a spiral of what you see? For example, are you sitting near a flower you can smell as a bee visits the pollen, gathering nectar, helping create seeds and fruit that another may rely upon for food or habitat? Are you providing shade to another being, perhaps a resting butterfly or a tiny seedling?
  • If you draw a spider’s web, with a member of your natural community at every connecting link, where would you find yourself? Is this a flat web, or an endlessly rotating, expanding connection?

Who do you already know or expect to visit?

Who would you like to meet?

Who do you belong to in your habitat?

Who lives with all of us?

Are you resting at the Heart of Home?


The following activity is dedicated in honor of the 50th Earth Day:



Who will you share it with? From the flower’s point of view, is every day Earth Day?

There are endless leaves of thought, sunlit ideas, so many living possibilities . . when you spend Earth Day with a flower:

Plant company: If you stick around for another century or longer, you could plant a living companion for most of your lifetime! Would you choose a native tree? A yucca or a cactus, if you live in the desert? Or a tundra willow, if you live in the alpine or arctic zone? Just imagine: generations to come would find shade, cleaner air, birds nesting, butterflies hovering . .

Describe your soil & rocks: What do you see near your planting site? What color, shape, texture, and scent describes your soil or rocks? Is there a major landscape feature nearby? How far is the nearest river, mountain, desert, beach? If you stand near the center of home, with the best view, what do you see?

Where do you find water? Is it dry, damp, or maybe very wet where you live? Salty or freshwater? Are there springs, streams, ponds, lakes, or even an ocean in your area? How do plants find water? Does it rain often? Snow? Who relies upon the water?

Who shares your habitat? Who visits your home? Are there tracks? Wild animal scat? Are there sounds at night, birdsong and buzzing bees in the morning? Horses, cows, chickens, dogs? What does home smell like? Who lives there? Is your company feathered, furry, finned, scaly, slimy? Do they have sharp teeth? Forked tongues? Do you have neighbors? How many people live nearby?

Watch the weather change! Describe the clouds, wind, temperature, rain, and snow . . . CRAZY storms? Wild seasons!

What is biodiversity?

= The variety, abundance and distribution of species and the processes through which they interact. Biodiversity is concerned with species, genetic and ecosystem diversity; it can be described according to habitat, along an environmental gradient, and on a landscape level. ​

Thanks to Everyone who joined our 2019 Seasonal Gatherings on Poetry & our Natural Heritage & Biodiversity

Much gratitude, too, to those who joined us to celebrate International Biodiversity Day and the return of Springtime in the Southern Rocky Mountains with Native Plant Seeds and conversation on May 22nd, from 4:30-7 PM, at the historic La Fonda Hotel, Taos Plaza, New Mexico.

Thank you for BEING HERE!

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