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Wednesday, August 2, 2017



Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  63 degrees F at the ferry dock, 61 on the back porch.  Wind ENE, mostly light with occasional strong gusts.  The sky is overcast and we should get rain today, possibly tomorrow. Temperatures will then rise into the low 70's, with rainy weather next week.  Easterly winds bring cool, wet weather, courtesy of the Big Lake.
   Wild asparagus plants are in bloom along un-mowed roadsides around Bayfield.  Most of the plants are probably garden escapees, but evidently there is also a "wild" species or subspecies native to Europe that is an immigrant to North America . Whether there is truly a difference , I don't know.
   The cultivated asparagus, Asparagus officionalis (the species name is from the Latin for "sold in shops") in the  Asparagus Family has been grown for many thousands of years as a garden food plant and medicinally as a diuretic, the effects of which are obvious to all who eat it.
   We all have experienced the characteristic odor of asparagus induced urine, and there are often grants awarded for investigation into it, and subsequent skepticism about why funds should be spent on such studies.  What is less commonly known is that the sensitivity to that odor is determined by a specific, inherited gene, and thus is useful in genetic studies, and is not as frivolous or unworthy a research opportunity as it may seem to reporters and laymen. Thought you would like to know that.
   Roadside asparagus is perfectly good, and easy to identify as a wild edible, but it is difficult to find the tender sprouts in the spring, so now is a good time to spot where it grows for future reference.  The tall, fern-like foliage with its tiny yellow flowers is easily recognizable now, and will be even more so when it develops its red berries, and turns golden yellow in the fall.
   Even if one does not intend to eat the young shoots, it is fun to spot the plants along the road and know what they are and appreciate their considerable beauty and interesting history.

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