King Eupator, Tom Hanks, and Mrs. Lincoln

03 Dec

Hammock Snakeroot

Ageratina jucunda


Yesterday, John and George had a good time searching  for Mistletoe in the Mariposa Cane Slough Preserve in Pt. St. Lucie.  This beautiful scrubbish hammock is pure nature joy. And it is in the newspaper,  having its grand opening today (12/3) as this is being typed.  It is an example of the great green things a coalition of green-lovin’ friends of the earth can achieve.  Click for Mariposa

The mystery of MCSP is: “where’s the Mistletoe”?   (Phoradendron leucarpum)   At the southern tip of the Oak Mistletoe range, the species inhabits St. Lucie County, and it is reputed to be in Mariposa.  We looked and hunted, but Christmas kissing in the Preserve  this year must occur without Mistletoe.  Those  big old trees are covered with vines, ferns, Spanish Moss; trying to spot the Mistletoe was  too needle-in-the-haystack for us at the moment, so on to more earthbound plant…

Setting aside an orchid or two, the dominant floral displays yesterday came from the Aster Family, starring Hammock Snakeroot (Ageratina jucunda).   Now we digress a moment, but don’t worry, it all comes together.

A more northern species of Ageratina (White Snakeroot, A. altissima)  is the cause of Milk Sickness which afflicts cattle who eat it and people who drink the tainted moo juice.  The disease was epidemic in the early 1800s in the greater Ohio Valley Region, and killed seven people in Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana in 1818, including Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks (Lincoln).

Hammock Snakeroot (photo by JB)

Ever notice the resemblance between Nancy Hanks, Tom Hanks, and Honest Abe?  It is not coincidence.

Nancy Hanks (from Google Images)

Also in flower yesterday was Jack-in-the Bush (Chromalaena odorata).  If we turn back the hands of time, this species, Hammock Snakeroot, and White Snakeroot all used to be classified the genus Eupatorium before contemporary taxonomists messed with our minds slicing and dicing the genus.  Geezers like John and George have the older Eupatorium names lodged  in our synapses.

Tom Hanks (from GI)


The easiest way we know to distinguish Ageratina from narrowly defined modern Eupatorium is to look at the phyllaries (the little bracts around the flower head).  In true Eupatorium the phyllaries are conspicuously of two lengths, whereas in Ageratina they are nearly all equal, with a smattering of odd little outliers.

We like Eupatorium, because the name has soul—for  King Tiberius Julius Eupator Philocaesar Philoromaios Eusebes, better known as King Eupator, who reigned over the Bosporus in the late Roman Empire.

Tell the truth


Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Hammock Snakeroot


Tags: , , , , , ,

4 responses to “King Eupator, Tom Hanks, and Mrs. Lincoln

  1. mudfish

    December 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Beautiful. Thank you!

  2. George Rogers

    December 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Mr. Mudfish, You inspired the Lincoln component–so thank you.

  3. Steve

    December 5, 2011 at 7:20 am

    In south Florida, I have never seen Phoradendron on oaks. They tend to prefer pop ash (Fraxinus).

  4. George Rogers

    December 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks Steve…we’ll peep accordingly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: