Monday, March 30, 2015

Beavertail Cactus - Opuntia basilaris

Beavertail Cactus, Opuntia basilaris, was blooming alongside the road, both heading into and out of Anza Borrego, in great numbers, visible at a distance as brilliant splashes of hot pink.

The Assassin Bug

An assassin bug on Cholla cactus in the Anza Borrego Desert.  This one looks similar to the Western bloodsucking conenose assassin bug, which sucks on the blood of mammals, including people by injecting an anesthetic and anticoagulant, similar to mosquitoes.  However, it appears to be missing the striped margins on the edge of its carapace.  In any case, some assassin bugs are capable of biting and should not be handled.  Others are harmless.  If in doubt however, sometimes discretion is a good thing.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Taiwan International Orchid Show

Pictures of some of my favorite orchids from the Taiwan Orchid Show!


 Calanthe sieboldii 'Tydares #64'

Dendrobium x usitae 'H5'


Enc cordigera variety alba 'W#1'

Paph Wossner Black Wings 'Arcolotus'

Paphiopedilum Mem Joe Loss 'Kuo Jang #6'

Phal (Sogo Genki x Tying Shin Red Emperor) 'Shine'

Phal (Sogo Genki X Yu Pin Fireworks) 'Snow Dance'

Phal (Tying Shin New View x Tying Shin Golden Staff)

Phal Dragon Tree Marks 'Golden Peacock' LS350

Phal Mituo Diamond 'Mituo #5'

Phal Tai Lin Fire Agate 'V873'

Phal Tying Shin Smart 'V904'

Phal schilleriana 'JM-Sakura King'

Rlc Orglade's Taffeta - C Madelaine Knowlton 'Yen'

Rlc Paradise Ruby 'Red'

Rtn Young Min Orange 'Jin Maan Yin'


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wild Orchids at Alishan, Taiwan

Here are some of the wild orchids I saw during a 1/2 day hike in Alishan, Taiwan.  Only the Pleione were in bloom so I could not identify which species of Bulbophyllum and Dendrobium we saw but still considered myself lucky to have seen so many orchids growing in the wild.

Bulbophyllum species #1 (oblong leaf)

Bulbophyllum species #2 (lanceolate leaf)

Dendrobium species

Large Taiwan Cypress, with moss-covered trunks.  The wild Bulbophyllum and Dendrobium grow on the Taiwan Cypress, mostly in moist areas that receive a bit of filtered sun.

Possibly a Dendrobium species.

A large clump of Pleione formosana growing in a clump of moss and grass on a sheer, rock, retaining wall.

A close-up of Pleione formosana

#Alishan, #Taiwan, #orchid, #orchidpictures, #naturephotos

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan

The Alishan National Scenic Area surrounds a mountain range on Taiwan's spine, averaging around 7000 to 8000 ft. in height.  While the Alishan economy was once reliant on logging of the giant Taiwanese cedars, it is now mainly tourist-based with huge tour buses routinely running up and down the mountain and hotels and guest houses available for overnight stays.  I stayed at a little guest house  surrounded by tea plantations near the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan.  The guest house was at over 7,000 feet so the thin air took about a day to get used to, with the first day being a hazy combination of jet lag and thin air.  It was also quite nippy at night, probably down around the 40's and 50's, which is quite a contrast from Taiwan's steamy Southern lowlands where it was running around 80F and muggy.   The guest house was, unheated, and while the thick comforters were quite warm, I managed to return home with a bugger of a cold.  Here are a few pictures from Alishan.


The roads and houses in Alishan are heavily planted with blossoming cherry trees, blanketing the entire area in bright pink!

The clouds roll in each evening and the roads and small town are covered in dense fog.  Shown here, the local police station, barely visible through the fog.

The sunset, filtered by the dense clouds, appeared as if it was the moon rising, with the suns rays just barely visible.  Also shown are the silhouettes of the neatly trimmed rows of tea, the sprinklers on risers, and a small grove of Taiwanese cypress.

One of the tea plantations, as the fog starts to roll in.  They served tea each evening at the guest house and the tea was amazingly smooth and flavorful without any bitterness nor without a lot of caffeine.  It was a pleasant treat!

A double blossoming cherry at the local tea house.

There were paper wasp nests all along the road.  Shown here, an abandoned wasp nest next to me for scale.  You can imagine what it would be like, when filled with angry wasps!

The Alishan area has long been inhabited by the original aboriginal people of Taiwan.  It has only more recently been settled by ethnic Chinese, many of whom fled mainland China as the Nationalist government fell.

Alishan is home to quite a varied number of orchid species including this, albeit not particularly showy, Liparis species.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Desert is in Full Bloom at Borrego Springs!

We drove out to Borrego Springs to view the wildflowers and then to Julian for some fresh apple pie.  The desert was just awash in flowers!  Here are a few of the flowers (before I got really tired of hunting for flower and bug IDs).

Arizona Lupine, Lupinus arizonicus, after taking a serious drubbing from the caterpillar invasion.  It appears that the thorny hairs were not enough to totally dissuade the caterpillars from their meal.


Whispering bells, Emenanthe penduliflora var penduliflora

Miniature Lupine species, unknown ID

Desert chicory, Rafinesquia neomexicana

Bearded Cryptantha, Cryptantha barbigera

Beetle pollinating a desert dandelion

Brown-eyed evening primrose and Sand Verbena

Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose, Camissonia claviformis

Caterpillar for the White-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata.  These were EVERYWHERE!  Apparently, there are hawks that migrate in every year and eat these voracious little buggers.

Desert grasshopper, unknown ID, blending into the sand

Desert Lily, Hesperocallis undulata


 Desert sunflower, Geraea canescens

 Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera deltoides


Purple Phacelia, Phacelia distans

Sand Verbena, Abronia villosa aurita

Smooth Desert Dandelion, Malacothrix glabrata

Furry caterpillar, Unknown ID

Dune Sunflower, Helianthus niveus