This page is just one of many “treehouses” at the wonderful Tree of Life Web Project.  Rylan Higgins, a student at the University of Arizona, shares the process of learning about an organism found in his everyday environment.

The weed turns out to be little mallow (Malva parviflora):

(source)

When I was an environmental inspector for Kentucky DEP, one of “my” wastewater facilities was at a slaughterhouse and sausage factory.  There was a small pond on the property that was ringed with large plants the operator identified as mallow (a different species, probably a Hibiscus).  They had big showy pink and white flowers like party dresses.  We were standing at the edge of this pond on a sweltering day watching rafts of a pale blue egglike substance make slow majestic circles.   This was cyanobacteria.  In a puff of breeze, the pastel flowers waved at the china-blue flotilla as it passed in review.

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