Wednesday, December 29, 2010

O'io for dinner?

Bonefish, O'io, Albula glossodonta. O'io are fast swimming fish that live off of crabs, shrimp, small fish and crustaceans. True to their name, they're pretty bony so the locals scrape the meat off the bones and make them into seasoned fishcake patties. This nice man was willing to pose with a huge O'io (bonefish) that he had just caught with a thrownet (you need to be realy fast to catch an O'io with a thrownet so he's pretty doggone talented in my book). He said he was having O'io fishcake for dinner.

The Amazing Mr. Frog

Frogfish, Orange Frogfish, Antennarius species. The frogfish is capable of walking (alternating fins forward) or "galloping" (two fins in unison) on its pectoral (and pelvic/ventral) fins and also of swimming. Young frogfish can even jet around by forcing water out of their gills!

Frogfish are also called angler fish because of the "bait" or lure that they can waive around to attract a good meal. The rod is called the illicium and the "bait," the esca, all part of a modified series of dorsal fins. When not in use, the illicium and esca can be withdrawn into a cavity between the second and third dorsal fins. When prey is successfully lured to the frogfish, the frogfish rapidly (6ms!) opens its mouth creating a sudden suction that draws the prey into its mouth. They can consume prey as big as themselves, even toxic lionfish, without ill effect.

The Angry Myna

Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis, Waikiki, Oahu. This mynah appeared wet, possibly from the recent heavy rains. Whatever the cause, he sure looked cranky!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Grapsus tenuicrustatus, a'ama, thin shelled rock crab, Oahu, Hawaii.


Makapu'u, Oahu. The waters off of Makapu'u are deep and are known for harboring large ulua (jacks), a favorite of Hawaiian fisherman.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Indulge your inner Santa with a little Christmas cheer! Hope this holiday season finds you all with friends, family and loved ones. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pleiospilos nelii or Split Rock Plant

Pleiospilos nelii or Split Rock Plant. The Split Rock is blooming again and, in the setting sun, proved too tempting to not take a picture of. For something that looks so rock-like, it really has a flamboyant bloom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea 'Predator' FCC/AOS

Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea 'Predator' FCC/AOS. This species grows on the Eastern plateau in Mexico from around 2000 feet to 4500 feet in altitude. The flowers smell like sweet vanilla.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seraphyta diffusa

Seraphyta diffusa. Warm growing from Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam and Brazil. The flowers remind me of a swarm of...well, mosquitos!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Poinsettia draped with morning dew. There was a dense marine layer (a.k.a. fog) hovering low over San Diego last night. When I awoke and poked my head out to snatch the morning paper, everything was covered with dew. The poinsettia was particularly beautiful, with the drops glistening in the morning sun.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gongora amparoana

Gongora amparoana. This little Gongora was purchased as a Stanhopea seedling. However, low and behold, when it bloomed it turned out to be a Gongora! These are from Costa Rica at around 3,000 feet and tend to grow on the hot side which is why this one has grown a bit slow for me. It's seldom seen in cultivation so it's still kind of fun. I find Gongoras in general to be a little more sensitive to cold and weather than Stanhopeas which means they stay inside the greenhouse or the house. As for the pretty red background...that's one of those nice Christmas flyers that show up in great numbers at this time of year! McGyver would be proud.

Liquid Amber Tree

Liquid Amber Tree (a.k.a. American Sweetgum), Liquidambar styraciflua. The liquid amber trees have gained their "Fall" colors and oh what a glorious sight it is! It gets cold a little later in San Diego but it is finally cold enough to get some great colors.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi var. alba

Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi var. alba. The typical form is found widespread throughout Southeast Asia in lowland forests.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Oddities of the Orchid World

Dendrochilum cootesii var. alba. Perhaps the non-albanistic form is prettier with its lime and peach tones; however, this albino cootesii is still an awesome sight, with it's crystalline white, upside-down flowers. This species is native to the Phillipines where it grows at around 5,000 to 6,000 feet.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

That Cattleya labiata time of year...

Cattleya labiata 'Schuller's' blooming on time along with the other Cattleya labiata (var. autumnalis) in the fall.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Lc. Ruby Cheer

Lc. Ruby Cheer = Lc. Orglade's Cheer x Lc. Elaine's Ruby. This was blooming at the San Diego International Orchid Fair.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bad Day?

A dog looking grumpy... I suppose, being chained up on the driveway all day can do that to just about anyone.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dombeya cacuminum

The lovely pendant flowers of Dombeya cacuminum are pollinated by bats and drip nectar.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spotted Boxfish tete a tete

Spotted Boxfish, Ostracion melealgris, female. The water was a little murky due to the wave action (imagine being swept back and forth while you try to shoot pictures); however, this little fish came right up to say hello.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo variety intermedia, on the wing near Julian in the fall. This turkey was lucky enough to be born wild rather than in the queue for my oven. Families of wild turkeys will walk along the roads and foot paths in small flocks, making for good photo opportunities. As opposed to domestic turkeys that have been line bred for size, wild turkeys are relatively sleek and fast.

I hope this Thankgiving finds you all in good cheer, sharing even better food with great company.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fall Comes A Little Later in San Diego

The last hurrah for the season for my persimmon tree. Well, the old Fuyu persimmon tree did a magnificent performance this year, having fruit for the very first time. The fruit were totally huge and sugar-sweet (so not on the diet)! However, the cold weather is finally here and the leaves are about to drop for the Winter. I really enjoyed the color show it put on so I figured I'd share.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Laelia anceps 'SVO' HCC/AOS

Laelia anceps 'SVO' HCC/AOS. These are native to Mexico and actually grow outside quite nicely here in San Diego. I even have one growing on a tree in the front yard! However, this beauty was purchased from Fred Clarke, one of the nation's best orchid growers, at Sunset Valley Orchids. The flowers on this Laelia anceps are absolutely huge and float on 2 foot stems!

Lc. Miss Wonderful 'Arnilicious' AM/AOS

Lc. Miss Wonderful 'Arnilicious' AM/AOS. The parents are Lc. Mari's Song x Laelia anceps. Hot off the press. 80 pts. Three nice sized flowers on a long arching stem with color that just jumps out and grabs you. Better yet, this plant likes the dry corner of the greenhouse, virtually thriving on neglect! What more could you ask for?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Search for the Black Orchid

Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight 'Geyserland' FCC/AOS. Black is one of the rarest colors in the orchid kingdom. This Cymbidium gets close with a deep, sparklng, chocolate-burgundy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Phalaenopsis bellina variety coerulea

Phalaenopsis bellina variety coerulea. A rare "blue" varient of the wonderfully fragrant Phal. bellina. These grow hot and humid in their native Borneo. While the typical Phalaenopsis you find in your grocery store have absolutely no fragrance, these lovely phalaenopsis have the frangrance of fruit loops!

You say you want one?!! This came from Randy Tajima at E-Orchids Online. Thanks Randy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stanhopea jenischiana

Stanhopea jenischiana. These orchids have sweetly fragrant, pendant flower spikes that go down through the media and are, thus, best grown in hanging baskets. They are native to Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru at around 2500-4500 ft. It's hard to nail down the fragrance but, as best I can describe, it smells like a combination of sugar, vanilla and fruit...or maybe somewhat like a creamsicle.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Toothy Grin

Crocodile, Osaka Aquarium. How do you know it's a croc and not an alligator? An alligator's lower teeth fit under the top jaw, the top jaw overlapping over the lower jaw. A croc's jaws are both about the same size, allowing some of their lower teeth to extend out over the upper jaw, particularly the large fourth tooth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black Angel

A black angelfish with glowing red eyes! Stunning in a slightly spooky-eerie kind of way. These fish originate in the Amazon basin.

The Amazing Bulbophyllums

Bulbophyllum Betty Kelpecz. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Bulbophyllums are amazing orchids that come in all sorts of wild colors and shapes, many with moving labellums (lips) and somewhat rank fragrance (pollinated by flies).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Blue Cattleyas

Lc. Mini Purple x C. Portiata. The "blue cattleyas" are typically denoted by the variety coerulea. They are not a true blue, that color being extremely rare (a.k.a. largely non-existent) in orcids. Instead, they are a purplish-lavender as seen here. The coerulea coloration is also rather rare and often does not breed true. This clone had upright sprays of wonderfully fragrant flowers.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rose after the Rain

A rose with rain drops still glistening in the sun.

Fun Rose facts:
* The word rose derives from Latin, rosa and from Greek ρόδιόν rhodion.
* Attar of rose is steam-extracted rose petal oil used in perfume and also in cooking
* French rose syrup is also made from rose petal extract.
* Rose hips (the seed pod of the rose) are high in vitamin C and are used in vitamins, preserves, tea and makeup

Friday, November 05, 2010

What Pollinates a Snapdragon?

Yellow Snapdragon at Armstrong Nursery.

Southern California fall colors (grin)... However does a bee get into a snapdragon? It doesn't. Apparently, snapdragons are pollinated by bumblebees that either power through the opening or chew through the side of the flower. Honeybees are pretty much locked out.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fall in San Diego

Monarch Butterfly enjoying the bountiful flowers at Armstrong Nursery. It's getting a little late in the season so the butterflies are a little weather-beaten but still beautiful to watch. The mechanics had the car for an oil change which turned into a brake job, an extra hour or two of waiting and a hundred or two of extra cash. So, in the interim, I walked over to the Soup Plantation for some lunch and a quick jog over to Armstrong. The flowers were still in bloom and the butterflies were still bountiful. It seems that, outside of a few rain drops on the roses, not much changes in Southern California in late October.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Jerusalem Cricket

Mahogany Jerusalem Cricket, Stenopelmatus n. sp. "mahogany". I find these HUGE (just short of 2 inches) crickets out of their normal underground habitats when it's been raining for a few days and really damp out. I suspect, they come up to dry off a bit. These guys are scavengers, feasting on rotting matter, dead animals and plant roots, aerating the soil while they scavenge. They are favored snacks for bats, skunks, foxes and other nocturnal predators. There are many species of these seldom seen, docile, subterranean creatures, many of which are from California. Think of them as ...ahem...earthworms with more character!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

White Fronted Bee Eater

White Fronted Bee Eater. These beautiful birds life and nest in cliffside colonies and live on flying insects which they snatch out of the air. They are native to the savannahs of sub-equatorial Africa.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Terns in Flight

Terns in Flight, Tijuana Estuary Wildlife Preserve. I love watching the terns as they take off in huge, graceful flocks of white that zigzag through the sky! In the background, the air ripples in waves (in spite of it being a relatively cool day!).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Diving Pelican

California Brown Pelican diving for fish. It's really amazing watching these huge, lumbering birds fold in their wings and plummet from the heights!

How to Spot Dolphins

Pelicans, Gulls, Cormorants and Dolphins all mixed together! If you're looking for dolphins, look for the birds first. The birds gather to take advantage of the dolphins efforts at herding fish into a tight school, making an easy meal for the birds! The birds act as a beacon for you to spot the dolphins as the birds congregate in numbers and in mixed groups that would not otherwise occur. Then, if you watch the water, you will see occasional spouts and fins pop up. The same "bird trick" holds true for spotting schools of tuna or other large ocean carnivores that herd bait fish into tight schools or "bait balls." Where there are birds, there is typically something down below herding the bait fish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Phalies: a grocery store phenomenon or a cultural icon?

Dtps. Chain Xen Pearl x Dtps. Zuma Pixie. Phalaenopsis and their close cousins, the Doritaenopsis (Dtps. = Phal. x Doritis), have become the darlings of the potted plant world. The flowers can last upwards of 3 months and they now come in a plethora of vivid colors. They are amazingly available for as little as $8 in bloom, a feat enabled by mass production and hybridization of these little jewels in Taiwan. The local commercial hybridization of these plants has largely succumbed to foreign imports.

The two biggest questions for these durable little plants are a) when to water? [water about once a week or when the media has dried out]; and b) how do I get it to bloom again? [a 10 degree F drop in temperature will normally precipitate a new bloom spike. The old spike may also be left on and will sometimes generate side branches.]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Orchids In Every Form, Size and Color

Paph. Stone Lovely x Paph Pacific Shamrock. Orchids come in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. This one is largely albino allowing the remaining green tones to be more easily seen (the pigment was there all along but covered by the darker pigments). While this particular plant is a hybrid, Paphiopedilums, as a genera, originally come from SouthEast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, etc.), Southern China and India. The American relative, also called a lady's slipper, is called a Cyprepedium.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cirropetalum rothschildianum 'A-Dorabil'

Cirropetalum rothschildianum 'A-Dorabil' FCC/AOS. This dramatic species hails from India where it lives in moist, warm conditions. In cultivation, it grows best in plastic baskets where the media stays moist, but well aerated and not soggy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ro Z's Sweet Art Studio

Ro Zinniger showing off one of her wonderful floral cakes at the Gourmet Expo. I had one of her cupcakes for desert at dinner. Yumm!