I’m fond of the collective nouns in the English language. The fact that they exist at all is simply yet another linguistic quirk. “a murder of crows”, “an exaltation of larks”, “a wedge of swans”… these terms aren’t really used all that much, but they have a certain poetic potency.
There are several collective nouns which are so embedded in our language that we use them reflexively. Nobody ever refers to an aggregation of cows as a “flock”. For no rational reason, that term is reserved for descriptions of groups of goats or sheep.
I’d like to propose a new collective noun, one which is unlikely to be used by anyone other than myself. “Why is that?”, you might ask. My noun refers to an obscure species of Morning Glory, Ipomoea longifolia, a peculiar species which is only found in Southwestern desert environments. A Sprawl of Morning Glories! I like the sound of the phrase.
This species doesn’t climb like most Morning Glories; there isn’t much to climb on in the desert. The plant sends out ground-hugging vines which make their way across rocks and gravel.
The flowers are beautiful, and I can’t help but wonder how such fleshy and large blooms can grow in such an arid environment. I surmise that the plants might have a fleshy tuberous root, like another member of the genus, the sweet potato. A fetching cluster of flowers which I captured one cool August morning:
Here’s a shot of a shoot making its way across a barren expanse of schist. The seeds of these plants mostly die of desiccation, or are eaten, but a favored few find a cleft in the rocks which has accumulated a pocket of humus, yucca and oak leaves slowly decaying in a crevice or crack which was somehow shielded by topography from the sluicing torrents of the monsoon rains. The wandering vines of this Morning Glory can be ten feet long.
Only once have I seen the vines of this plant actually climb, something temperate-zone Morning Glories do routinely. Here is a shot of a vine climbing up and over a dead yucca clump, a mass of dead vegetation which takes decades to decay:
Right now, during the peak of the monsoon season in the Mule Mountains, the normally barren canyon slopes are cloaked with showy blossoms of this Morning Glory, as well as the pink and fuzzy blossoms of a leguminous shrub which I think might be a species of Mimosa. A nice time of the year for a walk!