Under Our Very Feet

A new species of flowering plant! An uncommon discovery

I don’t know if most folks find as fascinating as I do all the new species or new understandings of known species that have cropped up just in the past year. I take that back: most people are NOT as fascinated, given the fact that I’ve been a Biology Watcher now for more than 45 years. I do take notice of and find inordinate delight in such things.

But when discoveries happen right here on Goose Creek, all the better!

On a walk along the edge of the pasture a few days ago (the too-long uncut pasture, promises notwithstanding) I noticed spashes of color in our increasingly dead gray-tan field. I’d never seen this flowering species before, but could tell from its family features that it was a “mallow”. Running down the specifics was then, not that hard. It is called Musk Mallow because, the information tells the reader, it has a distinct musky smell. Maybe to some noses, not to mine.

So at this late date in life, I’m still making discoveries. If we only knew, layer upon layer, the workings too small or too large for our comprehension, or otherwise imperceptible to our senses or our understanding, we’d be blown to bits by what we call “the ordinary” things of life.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Your comment about being blown away by the ordinary reminds me of an exhibit on the the evolution and functioning of the eye. Just the mechanism for tears was too intricate for belief!