Why we are here:

Our signature Bible passage, the prologue to John's Gospel, tells us that Jesus (the Logos) is God and Creator and that He came in the flesh (sarx) to redeem His fallen, sin-cursed creation—and especially those He chose to believe in Him.

Here in Bios & Logos we have some fun examining small corners of the creation to show how great a Creator Jesus is—and our need for Him as Redeemer. Soli Deo Gloria.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Moth Mullein Flash Mobs the Meadow! (but in a good way)

Over the past few years, a wildflower meadow at a nearby nature preserve has been overrun by a nasty invasive alien weed called Mugwort. Last year, the meadow was stripped of the offender by mechanical and chemical means, with the hope that native plants would be given a chance to return.

For one species, at least, the project has been an almost spectacular success. One of my favorite plants, the Moth Mullein, is back in force. In recent years only a few of these plants could be seen blooming throughout the 107-acre preserve. When I visited yesterday, literally dozens of mulleins were in full bloom throughout the meadow, including the usual solitary plants but also clumps of several stalks.

Something about the removal of the mugworts and the chemical treatment with a short-lived herbicide must have provided just the right conditions for the germination of buried Moth Mullein seeds, and nature took its course, producing a delicate sprinkling of yellow across the field of grasses. There is even one of the white-flowering variety, a  rarity, at least in this part of the county (a little further south, they seem to be the dominant form.)

Of course there is usually a flip side to every story. Truth be told, the Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria) is itself an alien, native to Africa, Asia and parts of Europe. But it’s ever so much more attractive, and less likely to take over completely, than the dreaded Mugwort that was removed to allow its resurgence.

  I am looking forward to the reappearance of Moth Mullein’s big cousin, the Common (or Great) Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a truly impressive, very furry plant with a 5- to 10-foot flower stalk, of which I have seen few at the preserve in recent years. Of course, it too is an alien, which can aggressively take over a meadow—so maybe we should be careful what we ask for.

But let’s not forget the big picture that I’m always pushing here: any plant that you see, whether big or small, hairy or smooth, colorful or drab, native or alien, is an engineering and biochemical marvel. Just the story of the reproductive cycle or the development of a plant from a tiny seed could fill several books, containing many mystery plots that still baffle the science guys.

Flowering plant evolution has been mind-boggling to those guys for a century or more. Once in a while we see an article relating some promising theory, but it is usually filled with ifs, buts, maybes, as well as evolutionary assumptions, rather than solid data—and amounts to nothing. I’ll stick my scrawny little neck out and say, with God-given confidence, “They didn’t evolve!”

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, August 05, 2011

Eupatorium perfoliatum--what a great name!

Eupatorium perfoliatum—the name glides off the tongue like a fried egg from a non-stick frying pan. It’s the scientific name for a really slick plant. Common names: Boneset and Thoroughwort. And all its names have been awarded for good reasons. Both “perfoliatum” and “thoroughwort” are reminders that the two leaves in each pair are fused at their hind ends so it looks like the stem is perforating a single leaf. And “thorough” is an old version of “through,” so you can see the connection (“wort” is just an old term for plant or herb).

“Boneset”, rather than describing structure, derives from the plant’s use in folk or herbal medicine. A potion made from the leaves and stems was used to treat dengue or breakbone fever. It has also been used to treat everything from migraines and gout to intestinal worms and malaria. These days it might be better to stick to more modern treatments, since boneset contains some vicious toxic compounds that can cause liver damage, muscular tremors, weakness, constipation—and death (although all of the above may be true of some “modern” medicines as well).

The Genus Eupatorium contains 30 to 60 species (depending on who’s classifying), including (at least formerly) Joe-pye weeds and snakeroots. So the boneset stands in good company. Take a look here at my previous post about some classification confusion.

Human-made classifications not withstanding, the Eupatoriums are magnificent creations, as are all plants. Sometimes we underestimate their complexity because they have only five “organs,” – root, stem, leaf, flower and fruit—as compared to the dozens making up animal bodies. But when we look closer we find that plants are far more complex, especially in their biochemistry, than animals. That’s why the plants are called autotrophs—self-feeders. They make their own food from carbon dioxide, water and a few minerals, while we have to stuff our faces with pre-made food to keep us growing and going.

That’s why God made plants first, then animals, contrary to faulty, illogical evolutionary theory. And He called them “very good,” which was almost an understatement. They are more than good; they are magnificent biochemical machines that produce thousands of complex chemicals, not only for their own survival but for us poor hapless heterotrophs, who are totally dependent on them, either directly or by way of the food chain, for our survival.

So thank a plant today, for its outward beauty and for its hidden secrets—and thank the great Creator God who made it.

By the way, if you look closely at our photograph (you can enlarge it by clicking on it) you may notice someone else who is thankful for the Boneset, at least as a temporary shady resting place.

Soli Deo Gloria