Lettuce Take Some Thyme for the Plants

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Hi everyone! I’m Hannah, a rising junior double majoring in theatre and mathematical and computational biology.

Headshot of a woman smiling at the camera with her chin resting between her thumb and index finger

Hannah Larson, HMC ’20

I’ve taken a lot of classes lately in biology and ecology, so I’m a big fan of flora and fauna. A blog post was made recently about different critters that you can find around Harvey Mudd’s campus, but there was nothing about all of the cool plants that you can find on and near Mudd. I can’t promise to correctly scientifically identify any of these plants, but I can at least tell you about why they are interesting and cool!

Large bird of paradise plant on Harvey Mudd campus

Bird of Paradise flower that was located between Sprague and Olin before a remodel.

This is a bird of paradise plant which, according to Wikipedia, is the floral emblem of the city of Los Angeles. This photo was actually taken many years ago when I was a junior in high school and came to Mudd to tour (that’s when I fell in love with Harvey Mudd). The area in front of Olin (our biology and computer science building) where this plant used to be was recently remodeled to allow for more outdoor seating, so you can’t find this plant around here anymore, but now there are other fun plants in its place.

The top half of a blue agave plant, with more in the background

Blue Agave plant found around campus, including the rooftop garden and classroom in the Shanahan.

This plant, according to Google, is blue agave. It produces a lot of sugars and is pollinated by native bats! I was able to take this photo during a physics lab on photography when my partner and I travelled to the outdoor classroom and garden located on the roof of The Shanahan (our main building for classes).

LEFT: three young women stand among tall green stalks of corn. RIGHT: a woman in a floral dress bends to look at a pile of multicolored pumpkins. Another pile of pumpkins is behind her.

LEFT: Tiffany Madruga (‘20), Aom Pongpiriyakarn (‘20), and Rachel Schibler (‘20) look for a way out of a maize maze. RIGHT: Tiffany Madruga (‘20) searches for the perfect pumpkin.

During the fall, there are pumpkin patches that open up close to campus. My friends and I went to one during fall break that has a pumpkin patch and corn maze (in the shape of minions!). While these plants aren’t necessarily on campus, they’re close to campus, easy to get lost in, and you can even bring a pumpkin home with you!

A yellow-and-gray marine mollusk on a wet, dark rock.

A chiton sits among green algae in the rocky intertidal region of Laguna Beach.

This photo features both green algae and a chiton (which is technically an animal…) located on the rocky intertidal region of the beach. As a biology major enrolled in biostatistics and an experimental biology lab (classes that all biology majors get/have to take), I took a field trip to the beach where we got to count organisms and spend a day in Laguna Beach with fellow biology majors and professors. Unfortunately, you probably shouldn’t take these plants back to Mudd, but if you become a biology major, you get to go see them!

LEFT: an orange pot with a blue circular "ITHACA FARMERS MARKET" sticker and short sprouts sits in a dorm courtyard. RIGHT: top view of radish sprouts in the same pot

A pot of radishes sits outside to soak up sunlight.

Lots of people on campus have their own plants, including bonsai trees, cacti, and many more. These plants are German Giant Radishes that I planted during spring break and harvested on the last day of school. Unfortunately, lots of the radishes died (which I probably should have expected after naming one of them Romeo) and there weren’t any radishes that I could eat, but it’s still fun to grow something and try to keep it alive!

A plant with long spindly stems and slim leaves in a field with other green plants.

A black mustard plant sits by the side of the road inside the Bernard Field Station.

This plant is black mustard, according to Google, an invasive plant found in the Bernard Field Station. I got to closely examine black mustard for a few hours for an ecology project I recently completed. Wikipedia says that black mustard is in the same genus as cabbage and turnips, but not white mustard, which is interesting!

If you are looking for other plants around Mudd, check out the drought friendly landscaping on campus! The Bernard Field Station also has lots of other interesting plants and some ongoing experiments in fire ecology, or you can go to the Botanical Gardens across the street from Harvey Mudd.