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Birds, Plants, Stuff

Went out twitching today after a rare bird that was just plausible enough to be sighted in Durham...and discovered that some idiot had been listing the exotic waterfowl collection over at Duke. (I just map-quested the coordinates and didn't realize where it was located until I got to the gardens and had a sudden sinking feeling. What I get for not checking closer.)

Oh, well. It got me out of the house, anyhow. I haven't been birding in weeks, beyond glancing into the backyard occasionally. There are worse fates than a morning spent birding at Duke Gardens, even if it's all yellowthroats and vireos.



I mean, I grow this stuff, and this never occurred to me. (I don't have a slope like that, mind you...) It's a clumping native grass with pink seed heads, grows about two feet tall, gets a pretty good spread. Never ever seen it used like that.

Then I stopped at the Botanical Garden on the way home, and there went the rest of the morning. Did you know there is a plant called "Farkleberry"?! (Okay, it's been rebranded as "Sparkleberry" and is a native holly, but seriously, that used to be "Farkleberry." The little tag informed me solemnly that not even google knew the origins of "farkle.")

So that was my morning. Didn't suck, even with the not-actually-wild goose chase.

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But but but - everyone knows the Farkles from Laugh-In. Don't they?

That was my first thought too. OTOH, does "farkleberry" predate the show?

Maybe even 250 years: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Farkleberry

You know? It is probably going to be a misheard French word, like Bakeapple:

From the "your finger you fool" school of naming things.[1]

[1] - see Pratchett.

In Industrial Design, when doing product illustrations (back when they were done with markers and pastels) the little white hot spots on the edges of of the product are called farkles.

In the motorcycle community, adding a lot of additions to your bike is called farkling.

Essentially, farkle is the predicessor to bling. So it would make sense that a plant with lots of little white flowers would be called a farkleberry.

Google does know, though, that it's been "Farkle- or Sparkle-berry" since at least 1888 (per this book-search result), and further knows that one of the earliest mentions of "farkle" is in 1824 in The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, Or, the Original, Natural, and Antiquated Curiosities of the South of Scotland, a lexicon in which "Farkage" is defined as "A bundle of cordage, so confusedly warped, that there is no ridding it out; or a bundle of various things in a similar state," and "Farkle" is described thusly: "This word, and [farkage], are one and the same; none of them, be it known, are what the Latins called 'verba recens Jicta,' new coined words, though I am not able to ferret out their proper derivations" (book search result).

Mentions of "farkleberry" that it knows of date back to at least 1821 (see, e.g., this search result).

Edited at 2014-10-17 04:12 am (UTC)

There's a line about farkleberry juice in an episode of Get Smart, and all these years I thought they'd just made it up!

Woah that is some really pretty grass! It snow drifts came in cotton candy puffs, that's what it would look like.

My family used to play a dice game called Farkle. It was fairly similar to Yahtzee, but if you got four 2s then it was called a "farkle" and you lose all your points and have to start over!

I think it goes beyond just our family, since I found a tiny set of farkle dice at a tourist shop one time. I just *had* to bring it home to show everyone!

AH HA HA HA I just laughed so hard about the waterfowl sighting - good thing there's nobody else in the office yet - but it was totally sympathetic laughter. I don't have the stamina for twitching, but I'm sorry you went off on a (wait for it) wild goose chase. My only rarity very considerately came to me: a beautiful black-billed magpie perched in the neighbor's doug fir! They're rare on this side of the Cascades. Such a striking bird with the black and white contrast - it was as startling as seeing a penguin up a tree.

That grass appears to have sprung directly from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

Came here to say exactly that. It looks like a truffula slope.

It looks like a weird (martian) mist is rolling down the slope engulfing everything in the way. I'm sure I saw a film about that once. It didn't end well...

The DBG in Phoenix has a nice use of it too. They've planted it like a runnel down between two low walls, and it's *just* high enough in bloom that you can tickle your palm with it as you walk by.

Are you sure it's a holly? 'Round these here parts, Farkleberry is Vaccinium arboreum, Central Texas's answer to "Where are the blueberries?" Common names being what they are, though, it's possible that two species share one.

Farkleberry, Farkleberry, Farkleberry. It's just fun to say.

Monique in TX

"Farkleberry" sounds like something that would grow near Fraggle Rock. :D

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