Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Growing up different

Lithops are plants that take on the appearance of stones. The leaves of a lithops plant grow mostly below ground, and what appears on the surface is grey or brown, not the green color you might expect from a plant. In those grey brown hues lithops take on the look of pebbles and rocks, resembling the geological features of their native place. This is recognized in their name, which derives from the Ancient Greek words lithos ("stone") and ops ("face").

Lithops display at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
The little signs, which are neither plants nor rocks, are not usually found near lithops in the wild.
Lithops can only flourish in environments with very little rainfall, and exist in the wild across stretches of Southern Africa. It is said that their appearance as stones once helped protect lithops from predators, but as rare plant collectors now seek them out for their novelty, their population in the wild has become more scarce.

Sometimes I encounter people who are confused by the concept of minerality in wine. They don't know what it is, or how to define it. How should this liquid contain stones instead of fruit? How does a vine plant produce that?

Minerality in wine is what happens when plants grow up like rocks.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You'd have fun with Pisolithus tinctorius, too. Keep an eye open.

SFJoe