Stingy and Itchy Beauty

The American Aloe (Agave americana) is a good example for erroneous common names given to plants: to begin with it has nothing to do with the Aloe plants.Secondly, the other  common names it receives,  Sentry or Century Plant, are missleading because it newer lives up to 100 years but just 10 to 30.

It is native to Mexiko and the USA but has been introcuced to other parts of the world like the mediterranean basin where this picture was taken. It has good defenses with a prickly margin on the sides of the fleshy leaves and a heavy spike on top which is a dangerous thing if you run into it. Not enough with that the juice its leaves contain is very itchy on the skin and eyes. I tried one day to trim the leaves of an Agave with a chainsaw and the resulting flying fibers caused an amazingly strong allergy on my skin, from that day on I have treated Agave plants with a lot of respect.

What called my attention however when I took the photo below was the contrast of the yellow stripes with the green leaves and the forms and silhouettes formed by them.

American Aloe close-up
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency:

Who are you?

During a walk in the forest near to my home village  L´Ametlla del Vallès  ( this forest is mainly composed of mediterranean oak and rather humid) I found this strange plant.

I am actually not even sure if the white filaments are flowers or seeds, in the center of the whole thing it is possible to see a type of reddish flowery-thing too. I tried to identify this plant by all means without success, even asking for help two specialists (but got no anwer)..

The only details I am able to mention is that the rest of the plant appeared to be completely dry and of the climbing type.

So, if any of the kind visitors knows anything about this botanic enigma, maybe at least the family it belongs to, I would deeply appreciate any information!

Thanks to a good Facebook-friend we know now that those extravagant filaments are the seeds of a plant of the Clematis family.


Hairy wildplant with white filaments
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency:

Simply Moss?

Mosses are much more than those spongy, soft, green and humid grass-like plants we find mostly in shady, wet habitats. If we look at their reproductive strategy we will be confronted with interesting and strange characteristics which are totally different from those we know from the “normal” plants.

To begin with, Mosses don´t have flowers nor seeds and their leaves are only one-cell thick! 

As they don´t have flowers and seeds they use spores for their reproduction.

Moss sprouts gametophytes and sporophytes
© Photographer: Joan Egert | Agency:

Their conductive tissues are rather poorly developed, different from vascular plants (the more common  ones). Instead they absorb the water through the leaves. Mosses don´t use seeds for their reprocuction, after fertilisation they develop sporophytes with unbranched stalks topped with single capsules containing spores.

They neither have roots but Rhizoids which they don´t use to absorb water though. Their biology is too complex to be explained shortly but for those interested there is quite some more to learn at Wikipedia.

In the image above we can see both Sporophytes and  Gametophytes growing on a patch of moos.