Sunday, July 29, 2012

Very Colorful Berries!

Tropical fruits are abundant during our dry season from February to May. But other fruits also become mature and ready for picking at the onset of the rainy season. One of these is 'bignay' (Antidesma bunius), considered minor fruit because it is not sold commercially in big volumes, nor exported. It is also not known to many people. Some even haven't tasted it. Only kids eat and gather them as part of their plays.

Bignay however when processed, produce a very valuable product, bignay wine. A college friend, for his desire to preserve the environment and help the community, bought one side of a biodiversity vulnerable mountain, planted it to bignay, and now reaps the pleasure of a sustainable environment while producing his own wine  (Another Link). The community helps him preserve the vegetation of the area and at the same time the raw materials for his wine business. Endemic birds, formerly vulnerable to loss of habitat, now enjoy a stable sanctuary and peaceful surroundings. 

I found a volunteer bignay in our property and it is now laden with fruits. It is near the road so lots of children enjoy its fruits when fully ripe. The following photos are not fully ripe yet. They turn deep red or violet red when fully ripe. It is sweet with a little balance of acidity, and just like any other fruits can be made into fine wines. I am not making wines, but i make the children and the birds in our property happy with these free for all berries. It is a good source of antioxidants, and i hope birds benefit from antioxidants too. Other parts of the plant are used to balance sugar levels in blood of diabetics. 

A bunch below already shows some ripe berries, black means ripe!

Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Tropical Foggy Morning

Fogs hardly come to us in the tropics. But our area is around 100 masl, so fogs visit us once-in-a while during the wet season.  It was zero visibility beyond a 10-meter radius, and the fog stayed even after 9:00am. Normally, this time the sun is already up there, today i can still stay outside and take photos. Somehow, i feel like we are in a sub-tropical country, I start to think what happens if there is a hail. There is climate change, so it might not be impossible to have hail in the tropics. If this is climate change, I love it.

 The street near the house is deserted, except the twigs and leaves fallen the night before. I did not see even an animal or an insect.  It looks like only the plants welcome the fog and the rain. I kept on shooting as well as searching.

The coconut palms infested by mealy bugs and aphids during the dry season, now seem fully free of the infestations. The insects do not like the wet and cold temperatures.

That is a big acacia tree (Samanea saman), where a lot of birds converge and roost during the dry season. I wonder where they hide now this time of the year! Only a few crows visit it when the rains stopped.

 I cannot refrain from comparing this growing Crinum lily inflorescence to a right hand with  thumb and forefinger touching each other.  It deserves a good soaking, and it looks like a single bright marker in this area!

The hibiscus hasn't opened yet, it normally still opens before noon. When the fog lifts up this will still bloom fully and wait for the insects and the sunbirds getting its nectar.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rain Effects

I waited for the rain for a long time, so when it arrived i have to really experience it. I didn't have a thorough soaking, but i went out without an umbrella or a hat, just let it wet my hair and my shirt. It is comforting and felt like I have done a ritual. Oh i should have thought about that when i am still in there, i should have put very good positive thoughts in my electromagnetic field while in the rain. I think I am late for that, anyway, i had fun. After the slight wetness i came back to the house and got an umbrella for the camera, and started shooting. 

Earlier we had a thick fog, which visits us once-in-a while during the rainy season. This time there was a visibility of around 10-meter radius. I am imagining i am somewhere in Scotland or the mountain states in the US except that the temperatures here are higher. In fact I only have a thin shirt and i didn't feel cold. Maybe that temperature was around 28C. So the clouds just went very low to experience the earth's vegetation, what about that!

 Crinum lily has a good soaking, it has all stages of blooms

 The big bunch with opened flowers  fell off, cannot bear the heavy beating of the raindrops

 Caesalpinia pulcherrima  flowers had to droop

 Pachystachys lutea bracts and flowers were able to stand the raindrop pressure

 Cacao's new emerging leaves look so happy with the heavy rains

 This praying mantis has a poker face, so i can't discern if it is happy with the rain or not, it just stayed there on the spent blooms of the crinum

 Ti plants (Cordyline fruticosa) look hilarious and having a good soak after the long scalding heat they experienced a few weeks back. The yellowish sunscald suddenly becomes green now!

 Duranta erecta hasn't been pruned, so the limbs are trying to outdo each other in reaching the sunlight. Even the Florida beauty emerged at the center of the canopy for the light it wants to see too. Survival of the fittest is being shown in this little patch.

 The crotons whose leaves were drooping in the last few weeks now looks so satiated and healthy. It is a very pliant and adaptable plant. I hope there are larvae which eats them too.

The dormant caladiums show up everywhere, they are beautiful but later on my sister will uproot them including their tubers to limit their invasiveness. We have killed and dried a lot of Colocasia esculenta tubers last dry season to limit their population in the property.

Asparagus fern dried up in May, and now fabulously growing again. I still have to prune the dried stumps. I am trying to train it climb the molave tree near our gate.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima leaves with colored beads in them

Atis or custard apple (Anona squamosa) has lots of mealy bugs earlier, now they get a thorough bathing and hopefully got rid of the infestation. 

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   ff   blumen zum wochenende flowerartfriday 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Very Red Tropical Fruits

Some plants, flowers and fruits we always see in our property are still unknown to me, meaning I don't call them by first names. I know the locations they can be seen, their visual characteristics or morphology,  sometimes even the insects associated with them. Yet, i cannot find their identity. Now, November 2012, I remember to come back and put its proper ID, I baptize you Capparis micracantha. Actually, i have already posted the flower of this bushy tree years ago, but i didn't know that flower becomes this red fruit when ripe. (I am sorry for those who came back to know it, but i forgot my responsibility to return, thank you). This is the previous post:

 This very colorful fruit is already ripe. It is typically green when unripe but i haven't documented yet its flowers. I am very familiar with its leaves and spiny branches though, i can even identify its seedlings. The fruits when still at the tree is always associated with black ants. I've been looking for other insects where the black ants associate themselves with, but I cannot see any! However, even the green fruits are already surrounded with these black ants. In fact, it is difficult getting this red fruit because the ants cling to the hands.

The fruit is full of black seeds surrounded with mucilage. It looks like the pomegranate seeds. However, it has an aroma that is not fully foul but is unpleasant. I haven't seen though if birds eat these fruits. I remember last time i also posted almost the same color of fruit from a friend's farm, but that was from a vine. This one is from a tree, actually a forest wild tree.

 Another lovely red colored seeds are those small ones. We have a lot of them growing in the wild thickets. They are borne in pods from a bushy vine. The black portion contains the hilum which is attached to the pod. It is very hard when fully dry. We locally call it 'saga', pronounced slowly with weight on the last syllable. Its seed pods impressively split open to reveal these brilliant red seeds with black tips. It is commonly made into beads, bases for calling them as rosary peas,  a very nice name but very poisonous when ingested. I finally found its scientific name,  Abrus precatorius.

Scattered on green grass they provide some nice happy color contrast

This is the flower and the leaves of the small red seeds. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Perennially Blooming

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis: we locally call gumamela. A lot of varieties and species of Hibiscus we all know about and been hybridized here. And i have been posting a lot of them too in the past. But it is a much loved flower all over the world, and maybe it is one of those also which tolerates a very wide range of habitat. Here in our very hot and humid tropics, it is a very common sight and a perennial fixture throughout the year. It is also common to prune the branches regularly, so they wont grow so tall or wide.  No matter how poor the soil is, no matter how neglected it is, no matter how abused it is, they will still produce beautiful flowers, no matter what! Will you not love such a plant! 

I will just be posting one of them here, for a change!

the underside has whitish faded effect hue outside the petal overlap

 the stigma has the same red color of the inside petals, while pollen is bright yellow

 the deep throat has darker red color

 the almost spent flower at the end of the day

though the above photo is not of good quality, it shows an olive-backed sunbird sipping nectar.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fruits in July - Santol

Santol, Sandoricum koetjape,  is a distinctly tropical fruit, believed to be from Indochina and Peninsular Malaysia but naturalized already in the Philippines. Maybe it came here when there are still land bridges among Asian countries (theory mine)! Just like avocados, which i posted before this, santol in our property are also volunteers except for one tree. This special tree in the property was planted when I was still in college, because a Thai friend gave me a Bangkok santol fruit. I planted a seed which eventually became big and now producing lots of fruits.

We have two varieties, the native whose fruits are smaller and more acidic, and the 'Bangkok santol', which is bigger and sweeter. Native santol is diploid (2n=22), while 'Bangkok' is tetraploid (2n=44), this explains the bigger fruit size. It is reported that Fairchild Botanical garden has a Bangkok santol tree, and there are other trees in Florida. Some Bangkok santol fruits are exported to the US, so they call it 'Manila' santol.

If eaten fresh, the mucilage around the seed is the most preferred part. The thick pulp can also be processed into pickles and/or jams. It can also be used as souring agent to fish recipes.  Other provinces in the country also have many recipes for this fruit. The trunk is also very good for furniture making.

Some fruits in season in July to August: santol, avocado and atis (custard apple)

 The top canopy of our fruiting Bangkok santol tree (taken last year). Last month that right branch broke at the base because it was not able to keep the weight of too much fruits. It hit the electric wires that gave us a few hours of blackout. It also gave a loud sound which scared all of us.

photo with the broken branch

two weeks after the branch fell

 fruits at different stages of maturity

immature green fruit

ripening fruits 

a fallen ripe fruit

these are fallen fruits, so had lots of bruises

The pulp is rich in pectin that bruising exposes it to fast browning. Those big ants share some of the pulp, while that wound was done by birds while still on the tree.

Because we are far from Metro Manila, we don't sell these fruits. Nobody also buys from us to be brought to the markets, so they are just left on the tree or left to rot. One enterprising man in our area who for sometime harvest our fruits for the market already died. So our fruits don't reach the consumers.