Friday, July 31, 2009

Reminds Me of Home

Heliconia angusta. This is one of the cooler-growing Heliconia, cool enough that it will survive our (high 30s) Winters. I was told this one comes from Mexico although it probably has varieties in Central/South America as well. I planted one because it reminded me of Mom's little stand of Heliconia in the back yard in Hawaii. It's not as nice as some of the more tropical varieties of Heliconia but it's good enough for a small reminder.

You'll notice a few seed pods fattening up on the flower. Those were pollinated by the hummingbirds, their natural pollinator (different species of hummingbirds, of course, in South America). Thus, if you see Heliconia in Hawaii, it was planted by man via cuttings/vegetative divisions. The Hawaiian Heliconia flowers do not get pollinated because Hawaii has no hummingbirds. In fact, hummingbirds are on the list of prohibited species for importation into Hawaii, possibly because they are afraid that the hummingbirds will compete with the very endangered, native honey creepers (birds).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Euphorbia tanzaniana

Euphorbia tanzaniana. Euphorbia is a large genera of plants, some of which are very attractive succulents with really cool patterns and shapes, others of which have real leaves and some of which are downright weedy. This is one of the nicer ones which happens to be a great grower as well. The flowers, unfortunately, are somewhat non-descript but they make up for it with generally cool, year-around appearance and ease of culture. I found this one at Home Depot for about $2 about a year ago. It's probably doubled in size in this last year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Wierdest Thing Floated By the Other Day...

Balloons... I was studying for my final the other day and I looked out of my second story window (by my cheesy little foldable table a.k.a. desk) and these mirrored balloons were merrily floating by. By the time I grabbed the camera, they had floated pretty doggone far. I guess there was a breeze. So....I used the little telephoto, a bit of cropping and photo editings and voila, ballons. I thought they were kind of cool (i.e. they survived the delete key) because the silvery surfaces refected the canyon below kind of like the world in upside down and miniature. I suppose that fact that one of them is flat is a commentary as well. My guess is one of the neighbors had a party and someone let go of the balloons trying to load them into the car [Ever try to load a bunch of helium party balloons into a sedan?!!]. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

GoPher Broke

Pituophis catenifer annectens, San Diego Gopher Snake, San Diego, California. This little guy was hunting squirrel or maybe mouse under the decking. I suppose that they're low-cost, all-organic rodent control. They're not poisonous; they kill their prey by constriction similar to the Rat snake and the King Snake. It does make you wonder just how much wildlife is in that back yard anyhow! I suspect that my little bird feeder and the bountiful dropped seed from it have spawned a whole little ecosystem that would otherwise not be there. So far, I have seen multiple species of birds that otherwise would not be here, squirrels and three kinds of snakes as well as a hawk that is staking out the song birds at the feeder. It's all a small lesson in biological food cycles from the bottom to the top. So far, the coyotes have not moved in yet (whew) but they stop by every now and then too.

Meanwhile, if you happen to see one, remember that Gopher Snakes have figured out how to whip the tip of their tale back and forth rapidly to create a buzzing sound that seems to mimic (somewhat) a rattler. It is a buzz rather than a rattle but close enough to make you wary. They have kind of a "wanna-be venemous" look. They will coil and strike as if they were a rattler as well to scare off would be predators. However, most times they will retreat(and are quite fast about it). Unfortunately, this bit of rattlesnake mimicry results in their being needlessly killed by people who mistake them for rattlers. Remember that next time you get a mouse infestation in the house.

They live on small mammals (mice, rats, gophers, ground squirrels), lizards and birds and are, as snakes go, decent critters to have in the neighborhood. You can read more about San Diego Gopher Snakes at California Herps!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Final's Done. I'm Zonked...

My Evidence final is done and I am totally zonked. I've been staring at this stuff non-stop all Summer long. One of my buddies at work said to take it during the Summer from this particular professor. "You'll really learn it well," he said. He dropped after the first midterm! He said you really had to stay on it in this class; there was no just getting by and, well, he just wasn't staying on it. In hindsight, he was right. One dedicated professor and a whole treatise later, I feel downright Evidence-fluent, more or less... (Chuckles). How that translates into test scores...I will never tell. I can't tell you the last time I saw the beach...or a park...or much of anything for that matter. Wow... However, there's dilled coho salmon and brocolli in the steamer and I'm thinking maybe I owe myself a movie! Hope you all have a great night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gentry's Sobralia

Gentry's Sobralia, Sobralia Gentryi. This gorgeous orchid has flowers that have a sweet smell reminiscent of Stanhopea nigroviolescens. Perhaps they are pollinated by the same bee as the smell is nearly identical. The plant itself is rather large, perhaps 3 ft. tall at first bloom and currently shows no signs of stopping. It is blooming under the shade of a large tree in the back yard, having gotten a bit too big for the very tiny greenhouse. In nature, they are found in Ecuador in wet montane forests at around 1500-4000 ft.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi, Sud de France. I love the way they plant rows of trees along the country roads and canals in France. It adds a certain stateliness and grace to the whole thing as if it were a wealthy estate. Just trees I suppose but it's still really cool.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Doritaenopsis in the Sun

Doritaenopsis in the Sun. The sun was peeking through the plants and was just enough to light up the white picotee on these vibrant rose pink Doritaenopsis.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Neoregelia. Neoregelia is one of many genera in the family Bromiliaceae. They are known for their brightly colored leaves and their ease of culture (i.e., hard to kill). While they will last indoors, sometimes for years, they actually like fairly high levels of light and lots of water. The center is typically full of water and the flowers emerge from a pine-cone-like inflorescence in the center, each managing to open just above the water line, enabling pollinators to come in and pollinate them while keeping would-be herbivores out via the moat. The multiply rapidly and are wonderful garden plants in warmer areas of the country, adding color and ease of maintenance to the garden. They can, however, be a haven for mosquito larvae so either occasionally pick them up and empty the crowns of water or drop a little insecticide into the crowns to keep them mosquito free.

For those of you wondering what a bromiliad is, probably the most commonly seen bromiliad is the Pineapple, Ananas comosus (actually more likely a hybrid with Ananas comosus in its distant parentage). If you cut off the top of your pineapple, dry it for a week on the windowsill, pull off the bottom leaves and plant it into a pot of soil, you can grow your own pineapple! Downside, it takes a few years, especially indoors, and even if you succeed, you only get one pineapple. It is easier to buy them in the store, right? Still, they are sweeter if ripened on the plant. If you have a warm spot with a lot of sun, give it a try.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Turtle Surfing

Two Turtles having a jolly time. Well it looks like boy turtle is hitching a ride on girl turtle. Nothing untoward at that, yet. Just a little bit of turtle foreplay. It does almost look like he's surfing on her shell though, doesn't it? Besides, birds do it; bees do it. Why not turtles?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tiger spots and rich, sweet smell!

Stanhopea Assidensis or Stanhopea shuttleworthii, TBD. Well, I'm not sure what it's name is but I'm betting on Assidensis at the moment. The plant is an SA import from one of the shows that was apparently mislabeled. It's a fun adventure to see what they bloom out as. I've been watching these buds for a while as they got fatter and fatter and then, today, popped, all opening in one fell swoop. This one has 8 huge, fragrant flowers. The fragrance is deep, rich and sweet but is not like anything else I could put a name too. Imagine a rose but different. I'll get a name to it sooner or later.

Epidendrum mancum

Epidendrum mancum. This tiny plant has bright yellow flowers that are perhaps a few millimeters across and bright yellow. I haven't tried to smell it so no comment on fragrance but they're fun. They come from Ecuador and Peru in elfin cloud forests at around 7,000 feet. Cute but you can definitely use a macro lens to see this one.

Back to studying for the final...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Misty Morning

Misty Morning, San Diego, California. The nice thing about that cool Southern California marine layer that coats everything with dew can see the spider webs before you step into them! Hahahah. Smirk. Honestly, I think they're amazingly delicate and full of wonder as they sparkle in the morning sunlight. Still, not getting them stuck in your face is a side benefit.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Streptocarpus. Well, not everything in the greenhouse is an orchid. Here's a beautiful Streptocarpus hybrid. These are native to Africa and Madagascar where they are found on shady hillsides. They are also known as Cape Primrose. They are in the Gesneriad family and respond well to culture similar to African violets.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Anacheilium radiatum

Anacheilium radiatum. The Anacheilium are in bloom. All kinds of Anacheilium. This one is a good old standby. Easy to grow, cheery, long lasting flowers & pleasantly fragrant. Most are from Mexico (San Luis Potosi, Queretaro Hidalgo, Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Chiapas) although the range extends considerably southward into Guatemala, Honduras and Belize to Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Stanhopea tigrina 'Predator' FCC/AOS. There was a bit of a flap over this orchid. The person that got it awarded apparently changed the clonal name to Predator, causing the original owner that named it a bit of heartburn. Not good orchid etiquette. However, when you look at it from below, I have to admit that it does look a little predacious. Not something you'd want to wake up to I suppose.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tolumnia hawkesiana

Tolumnia hawkesiana. This little Tolumnia is growing in a mass over a mounted Schomburkia. It seems to grow in mid air with very little in the way of root attachments to the bark mount. This is the first time it's bloomed for me and it is quite a delight. In nature, this Tolumnia is from the North coast of Cuba where it grows in low shrubs along the ocean where it rarely rains. They derive their moisture from evening coastal mists.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Color Variation in Cattleya leopoldii

Cattleya leopoldii, orange variety. Cattleya leopoldii comes in many different color varieties. This one is a pleasant orangish color without spotting. It's fun to see the different varieties and wonder how they came about. Are they mutants? Are they hybrids? We'll never know!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bumblebee Hitching Post

Stanhopea inodora 'Point Loma' HCC/AOS. Huge, glossy, cream flowers with waxy lips that look like space ships. Really cool. inodora is not supposed to smell but I swear the greenhouse smelled like cinnamon first thing in the morning. Of course, with all the flowers, it's sometimes hard to find the culprit. These are pollinated by big 'ol bumblebees that squeeze up between the side lobes, carring the pollen away to the next flower. Ironically, the pollen is too big for the stigma (female surface) until it has dried off in the air for a few hours, generally resulting in cross pollination rather than self-pollination, keeping the gene pool more diverse.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Passing Passiflora Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, the front yard... Normally butterflies don't land a whole lot but if you follow them with the lens long enough (argh) they will eventually land. This one landed twice on the jade plant before getting back up to my Passion Fruit vine, likely looking for a spot to lay a few eggs. They are also called Passiflora butterflies.

Yesterday, a big brown dragonfly, wings glittering in the sun landed on one of the tomato hoops/wires. He was 2-3 feet away from me. He looked a me. I looked at him. It was really cool. He almost seemed to have a smile as he stared at me. Creepy? Or really cool? I tend to look at it as the latter.

I've very seldom if ever seen a dragon land right next to me while I was moving. This one seemed more curious than not. Not to mention that I live pretty far from water and in a semi-arid area (cactus like it here). I wonder where he came from? Do you suppose I've got dragonfly larvae in my little lilly oak barrel?

I totally could have snapped an awesome picture...but I didn't have my camera with me. Argh. #$%*! Rule number one. The camera follows you everywhere! Rule number two. If you don't have your camera, go back to rule #1. You leave the camera in the house, you miss the picture. That's the breaks, eh? So you get gulf fritillary instead of really cool, awesome, carnivorous looking dragonfly! [Chuckles to self]. Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Catching the Cacti!

Echinocereus rigidissimus var rubrispinus. I posted a picture of the beautiful red geometric spine patterns of these on April 30, 2009. Well, there's been a bud developing for what seems like months now. It finally opened and it was worth the wait! Wow, hot pink with a bright white center.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Cockle Shell Anacheilium

The Cockle Shell Anacheilium, Anacheilium cochleatum (formerly known as Encylia cochleata). For the Latin fans among you, you will notice that this plant's Latin name has undergone a gender change! cochleata (feminine, pronounced cock-lee-a-ta) has changed to cochleatum (masculine, pronounced cock-lee-a-tum). In general, they change the gender of the specific name to match the gender of the Genera. (That's a tongue twister, isn't it?) The taxonomists decided to move the whole group of these adorable, upside down flowering (non-resupinate...), "Encyclia" into their very own Genus, Anacheilium. They do look fairly different so perhaps it is well deserved.

In any case, these orchids are very widespread, being found throughout the Carribean, Central America and northern South America including Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Leewards, Puerto Rica, Windwards, French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia. They are easy growing, very showy, tolerant of a wide variety of conditions and, apparently, edible. Go figure. Many of the other species in the genus are delightfully fragrant but cochleatum is more or less fragrance-free. There is also a fair amount of geographical variation so it would not surprise me if the taxonomists eventually split out some subvarieties or even new species.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Homeland!

Hawaii State Quarter. I've been waiting for the Hawaii quarters to come out for a while now. I just got one as change the other day. I snapped a picture because I thought it was kind of cool to have the state motto right next to E Pluribus Unum (of many one, right?). Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono means roughly, the life of the land (not literal) is perpetuated in righteousness.

The picture is of King Kamehameha the first. King Kamehameha I embraced western tactics, advisors and firepower and brutally and efficiently united the Hawaiian Islands (all except Kauai which voluntarily joined the kingdom after the fact). The first king was visionary in seeing the spread of technology as inevitable and decisive.

Hawaii is the only state in the nation that was a kingdom. The American marines, urged on by rich American farmers, locked the queen up in the palace and chased down the few Hawaiian loyalists. Thus was the territory and eventually the state of Hawaii born.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Stanhopea spindleriana

Stanhopea spindleriana. This plant is supposedly a hybrid between Stanhopea occulata and Stanhopea tigrina (shown last time). I'm not entirely convinced that it is not mislabled but that was the label it came in as anyhow. Most of the pictures on the web of Stanhopea spindleriana look more like the tigrina parent. Either way, it smells really nice and it is blooming at the same time as tigrina (which suggests it may indeed be a hybrid with tigrina). I'm not kicking it out of my greenhouse!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cattleya leopoldii

Cattleya leopoldii. This is a wonderfully dark, Cattleya leopoldii. They use these to breed for nice clusters of flowers on tall stems with spots! Most aren't this dark but there is a dark-flowered strain out of Brazil that this is probably from.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Stanhopea tigrina

Stanhopea tigrina 'Glory of Mexico' AM/AOS. These flowers are HUGE! You can see the hand next to the flower for comparison. Big, glossy, sweetly fragrant flowers. Everyone should have one of these. It's been open for two days now and it's still going strong. It's amazing that a little plant like that can produce such large, fragrant blooms!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Better Fireworks in San Diego?

4th of July Fireworks, Mission Bay, San Diego, California. Okay, here it is, San Diego fireworks. So, do we measure up to Lahaina? Hahah. Okay, okay, so you don't go all the way to Lahaina for the fireworks. Something about beautiful white sand beaches and gorgeous waterfalls. Still, San Diego does get some decent fireworks. There were four or five simultaneous shows across the city. I don't know where the money comes from in these tough times but a little cheer takes peoples minds off of the economy, even if just for a little while.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Fourth of July Fireworks, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. Happy Fourth of July. Wishing you all a safe, sane and funloving 4th.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Another Day in the Garden

Epiphllym hookeri. Also know as Epiphyllum phyllanthus var. hookeri or Cereus hookeri. I found this blooming in the yard last weekend. It had been mislabed as a hybrid. The flower lasted until about 10a.m. When the weather got hot and dry, the flower quickly faded; however, while it lasted, it was positively glorious!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Did I Mention that the Gongora are Blooming?

Gongora unicolor?? I have two of these blooming. The flowers are near identical but one is grey-brown and the other is this wonderful, sparkling burgundy. Amazing how much variation there is between clones! Both came in as something different. I just had yet another Gongora ID'd by Jenny as Gongora unicolor so this one is, at this point, unidentified. I'll let you know!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Will the Real Gongora unicolor Please Stand Up?!

Gongora unicolor. Another really cool Gongora blooming in the greenhouse. This one was just ID'd by Rudolf Jenny as Gongora unicolor. It came in as Gongora quinquinervis alba and clearly is not. This complicates things a little since it is fairly different in lip structure from the other Gongora blooming that was supposedly Gongora unicolor. Either way, what a beauty! Who needs white (alba) anyhow when you can have a wonderful sunset peach?