Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do You Know Your Constitutional History?

I figured I'd take a quick pause in the photos for a bit of Constitutional history from our friends at Wikipedia. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Did you know that inter-racial marriage used to be prohibited in the United States and was only fully legalized in 1967? Inter-racial marriage was referred to as miscegenation. The anti-misceganation laws were finally eliminated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 in the Loving v. Virginia case, where the U.S. Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore unconstitutional.

As per Wikipedia (note clickable link to the Wikipedia page and excerpt below):

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)[1], was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States."

The history of the case prior to the Supreme Court Case is as follows. "In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving had married in Washington, D.C. to evade Virginia's anti-miscegenation law (the Racial Integrity Act). Having returned to Virginia, they were arrested in their bedroom for living together as an interracial couple. The judge suspended their sentence on the condition that the Lovings would leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. In 1963, the Lovings, who had moved to Washington, D.C, decided to appeal this judgment. In 1965, Virginia trial court Judge Leon Bazile, who heard their original case, refused to reconsider his decision. Instead, he defended racial segregation, writing:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

The Lovings then took their case to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which invalidated the original sentence but upheld the state's Racial Integrity Act. Finally, the Lovings turned to the U.S Supreme Court. The court, which had previously avoided taking miscegenation cases, agreed to hear an appeal. In 1967, 84 years after Pace v. Alabama in 1883, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that:

"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Up a Tree

Tree Trimmer way up in a tree, over a pond full of rocks, hacking branches off. On the bright side, he gets to work outdoors without direct supervision. On the down side, well, it's a long way down and wet and full of rocks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Albanism in Orchids

Phalaenopsis violacea var. alba 'Wanchaio Jungle White' SM/TOGA x Self. Typically, albanism in orchids refers to the absence of color due to the suppression of at least one gene loci, typically for the expression of the color lavendar. If you had a red flower with both lavendar and yellow expression, the absence of lavendar may also result in a yellow or aurea form. In this case, the green of the flower is still expressed (yet another loci) resulting in a wonderful contrast between the white flower and the green segment tips.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nothing but the Best!

Poodle in a pink baby stroller being pushed by an elderly gentleman at the San Diego Botanical Gardens. My guess is the poodle was getting too old to walk along with that old man so he bought it a stroller. It's kind of sweet, really.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Featured Artist: Garrett Boetzer

Gargoyle with jet pack and hand control by Garrett Boetzer of Red Dragon Metal Design. Garrett also does beautiful floral sculptures; however, the gargoyles were my favorite for their whimsical playfulness. Garrett's a really nice guy who enjoys talking about his artwork. You can find out more about Garrett and his sculpture at www.reddragonmetaldesign.com or via email at rdmetaldesign@hotmail.com.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beauty Everywhere

Marguerite Daisies (also known as Oxeye Daisies), Leucanthemum vulgare, towering over a background of Dusty Miller. I really like the contrast of the white daisies against the silver background. Really, the beauty is not in the rarity (these are quite common) but in the lighting, color and the contrast.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Harp and Flute Players

Musicians playing the Harp and Flute at the art gala at the San Diego Botanic Gardens. It's been years since I've seen a harp player so it was a nice treat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

These Aren't Your Grandmother's Sunflowers...

Double Sunflowers at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. Wow, sunflowers have come a long way from the single-row of petals and the sea of seeds that I grew up with!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stanhopea embreei 'Ruth Marie Christian' AM/AOS

Stanhopea embreei 'Ruth Marie Christian' AM/AOS blooming in the greenhouse. This was originally awarded as Stanhopea bucephalus'Ruth Marie Christian' AM/AOS; however, it is clearly embreei in coloration and form. It blooms at the same time as my other embreei clones but the flowers are absolutely huge compared to the rest of them. Oh, and those red spots are amazing!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dutchman's Pipe

Close-up of a Dutchman's Pipe flower (Aristolochia species), a woody, fast growing vine, shown here blooming at the San Diego Botanical Gardens. I suspect that the bug falls/flies into the yellow opening going all the way down the tube-like flower to contact the pollinia and/or stamens only to crawl out and do the same trick again on a new flower. You can see the little hairs at the mouth of the opening that probably help the bug crawl back out.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stanhopea shuttleworthii

Stanhopea shuttleworthii blooming in my greenhouse. These originate from Tolima, Colombia at low elevations and are not common in cultivation. As with most Stanhopea, they are also wonderfully fragrant.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Paphiopedilum St. Swithin

Paphiopedilum St. Swithin. What's blooming in the greenhouse now? This wonderful primary hybrid is blooming in the very back of the greenhouse.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Giant Pleurothallis!

Pleurothallis titan (orange variety), "the Giant Pleurothallis"; blooming in the greenhouse now and for the very first time. This plant is a measly two feet tall but still a beauty. Apparently, the species can grow to perhaps twice that height and originates in the mountains of Panama and Columbia at around 3,000 to 4,500 feet. Also, the normal coloration for these flowers is a bright yellow. Is it a different species? The shape is pretty close, as far as I can tell; however, you never know...

In this picture, I carefully cropped out my hand (holding the leaf up for the camera), not wanting to enter the hand modeling career just yet. ;-P

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stanhopea hernandezii

Stanhopea hernandezii, in bloom right now in the greenhouse! Stanhopea hernandezii is from the Morelos, Mexico, Michoacan and Guerrero states of Mexico where it grows at around 5,000-7,000 ft. It looks like a smaller flowered, floriferous cousin of tigrina.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nesting Broadbill Hummingbird

Nesting female Broadbill Hummingbird, Cynanthus latirostris. This female Broadbill chose an old, dried out bromeliad cup to make her nest in (this last May). The male was hanging out on a nearby branch. These beautiful hummingbirds range from southwest Mexico to Canada but are not common in San Diego.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do You Speak Parseltongue?

Albino Burmese Python, Python molurus bivittatus. This is a rare abino version of the snake used in Harry Potter. It's actually quite beautiful and was not at all afraid to come right up to the glass to look at the people.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mr. Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte annalubris, staking out his back yard territory from the top of my Australian tree fern. He sits there until another hummingbird comes near the feader and then then swoops in to shoo the other bird off!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Encyclia mariae 'Arnilicious' HCC/AOS

Encyclia mariae 'Arnilicious' HCC/AOS, awarded this afternoon (8/14/10) at the San Marino Judging Center with 79 points. These are native to Northwest Mexico where they grow in dry oak forests at about 3000 ft.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus, Chicago Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois. Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus was a duckbill dinosaur (ornithopod) from the Late Cretaceous Period where it was a North American herbivore in some 76-73 million years ago. There is still much speculation on the purpose of the huge crest ranging from thermoregulation to breeding and courtship-related ornamentation. Ironically, this one is hanging out by the exit sign.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lotus Remnants

One last (white) lotus blossom for the season...

Huge stand of Lotus at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I really enjoy the texture and shapes of the remaining centers from recent Lotus blossoms. I'd guess those are the ovaries where the seeds form but then your guess is as good as mine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hitchhikers in My Photo

Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit Flies) on Aroid Fruit.


Sometimes I will take a picture only to notice unseen details that were not apparent in the initial glance I gave the subject the first time through. For example, I might snap a picture of a flock of ducks only to later find that there were three different species and different age groups. This photo was one of those hitchhiker cases where the Drosophila managed to sneak in and even dominate my picture! I snapped the picture of the aroid, wanting to highlight the deep, rich wine-red fruit, only to notice, during editing, that the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) had beaten me to the fruit! I happen to think their bright orange eyes are rather fetching anyhow, so, rather than crop them out, they become the focus of the picture! That's not to ignore or belittle the really cool, alien-looking fungus growing on the spoiled fruit!

Photos allow us to see the intracacies and interdepencies of nature, even when we are wisk right by incredible wonders as we fly through our hectic, harried existences.

Oh yeah, what's an Aroid you say? For you plant nerds out there, Wiki says Aroids are in the family Araceae, a family of monocotyledonous (think grass, corn, wheat, orchids) flowering plants in which flowers are borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix (the cylindrical structure in the above photo with all the red fruit on it). Got it right?

You might recognize some aroids including favorites such as Anthuriums (of Hawaiian hybrid fame), Colocasia esculenta (taro - a.k.a., the root Hawaiians mash to make Poi) and Xanthosoma roseum (Elephant ear or ‘ape, a common garden plant in warmer climates). A botanical garden favorite, Amorphophallus titanum (Titan arum), one of the largest flowers in the world, is also an arum. Also included are Dieffenbachia, Caladium, and one of my favorite aquarium plants, Cryptocoryne! One of our favorite office plants, Philodendron, is also an Aroid as is, you guessed it, Skunk Cabbage!Duckweed is another common member of the Araceae family.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Feeling Under the Weather

Chinese Herbal For Sinus/Allergies/etc.

The ingredients list.

I managed to come down with what appears to be a sinus infection. The symptoms include dizziness, massively itchy, runny nose, headache, wobbly knees but no apparent fever. The pool at the health club is a suspect at this point but, of course, I'll never know for sure. In any case, a quick dose of antibiotics would probably nip it in the bud but doctors are pretty careful about giving out decent antibiotics unless you're at the point of collapsing (not quite there yet). Besides, it takes so long to get an appointment that you're typically either half-dead or cured by then (solving the first issue).

So, what to do, what to do... Chicken soup? Airborne? Tried both. They might have helped a little...but by noon I was feeling dizzy and by late afternoon the nose was uncontrollable and the knees were about to give out! I figured I'd stop by the local chinese herbal store as a last resort and see if they had any miracles up their sleeves. They showed me this herbal called Pei Min Kan Wan as a general nose and sinus remedy. Sound risky? Could all those Chinese be wrong? I was getting desparate and feeling really miserable by this point so I bought some for a whopping $3! Ironically, that is less than my co-pay for either a doctor's visit or for prescription drugs (and I have a pretty decent health plan).

As soon as I got home, I hopped on the Internet so see what everyone was saying about it and also to check out the ingredients. I was particularly looking for nasty critters and for plants that I might be allergic to. I didn't see anything too nasty either way. The centiped gave me a start until I googled the latin name, Centipeda minima, and realized it was a plant (not the multi-legged critter) and that it was apparently quite useful for Sinus issues. Here's what a nutrition web site said about Centipeda minima:

Centipeda is a plant that is gaining wide use because of its effectiveness and reliability in treating a variety of respiratory conditions. It is used for colds and acute and chronic allergies. Centipeda relieves symptoms in the eyes, nose, sinuses and lungs. These symptoms include conjunctivitis, stuffy and runny nose, sore throat, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Centipeda has expectorant properties that aid in the removal of excess phlegm. The active components of centipeda include flavonoids that reduce allergy reaction, and scientific research indicates that Centipeda inhibits histamine release from mast cells.

So, the big question is, "did it work?" Well, after a few hours of sleep and about 8 of the little pills (instructions are for 3-5 per dose), my nose has finally stopped and the headache/pressure and dizziness are much less prominent. Overall, I'd say it helped me a fair amount. A few herbals and a lot of sleep.

The disclaimer: no scientific testing was involved; the above text is not a claim that this or any other herbal will work for anyone or for any particular ailment. This was just my personal experiment with herbal medicine to attempt to overcome a nasty case of sinusitis.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Spiny Palm

A spiny palm tree growing in the Arboretum at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I snapped this picture because I really liked the texture of the fibrous wrappings around the base of the fronds and the effect of those huge, herbivore-repelling spines. It would be really fascinating to know what purpose, if any, those fibrous wrappings play and why they rise so much higher on this palm than others that I have seen. Perhaps they provide shelter for a symbiotic resident such as a bird or rodent that then eats and spreads the seeds necessary for the plant's survival. Perhaps they serve to funnel water down to the plant's roots (now there's a science experiment!). If I find a docent next time I'm there, I'll ask!

A Woman's Right to Vote

It is easy to take our current rights for granted. We also like to think that the U.S. is on the forefront of human rights. However, a little history is always useful in giving us some perspective on just how recently equal treatment on different matters has been granted.

Wikipedia has a wonderful overview of women's suffrage and a table of the first date that women were allowed to participate (by voting) in elections by country. According to that table, in America, women were allowed to participate (by voting) in elections in 1920. Ironically, the U.S. was not the first country nor even close to being the first country to enable women's suffrage. Some of the countries that preceded us included Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, and UK.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Reflections of a Grander Time

The Hungtington Conservatory

Reflections of Tropical Foliage in the Conservatory at the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens and Museum were founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, a extraordiarily successful businessman whose invesments included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California. Ironically, the ability to build areas of stunning beauty and tranquility such as this are increasingly out of the reach of the average city dweller.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Cormorant Surfing the Waves

Cormorant Surfing the Waves and looking for minnows, Imperial Beach, California. I really liked how the waves were just bubbling with motion while the cormorant calmly swam along, not the least bit flustered.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Agave, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Encinitas, California. The little cluster of flowers blooming from a nearby perrenial should give you some perspective on the size of this Agave!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Naked Lady Amarillis

Naked Lady Amarillis, Lycoris squamigera. Lycoris squamigera probably originated in Japan or China. It grows very well in California, forming large clumps of leaves early in the Spring and then going leafless with narry a trace until it blooms in mid-Summer with repeated sprays of gorgeous pink flowers. It is also know as the Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, and Resurrection Lily.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Giant Bamboo

Giant Bamboo, Dendrocalamus giganteus, San Diego Botanical Gardens, Encinitas, California. The San Diego Botanic Gardens has one of the largest collections of Bamboo in the world and also harvests bamboo to feed the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo! Giant Bamboo can grow to approximately 100 ft. in height and is a clumping bamboo. A full grown plant is truly an impressive sight!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Fiery Skipper?

Skipper butterfy, possibly a Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus and unknown wasp coming in for a landing on Foxglove, Balboa Park. Fiery skipper was my best guess on this little skipper butterfly; however, this one has a brown body (female perhaps?). Butterflies can be a bit of work to identify but I'm not even going attempt to ID that wasp. Ahem, ID left as an exercise to our readers!

Foxglove (Digitalis) is poisonous but very beautiful and showy with long spikes of tubular flowers. It is also clearly not poisonous for pollinators!