Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are they really wildflowers?

In our part  of the world, they are wildflowers! These are not cultivated, not planted nor cared for, nor useful to humans. I will qualify this sentence because it is useful for me, aesthetically that is. And beauty is food for the soul. However, the utility of these patches of vegetation is really commonly referred by us to be weeds. If the land will be used for crops, these are totally cut and discarded as first phase of land preparation.

But I am sure you will agree with me that they are lovely! Come on please agree with me. Or i will only have the butterflies on my side of the debate! Weeds or not weeds, I like them!

The pink flowers are commonly called 'cadena de amor' or chain of love, maybe because each small flowerette looks like a heart. I am sorry I lack the evidence for that today, maybe i will show it to the judge next time. It actually is Antigonon leptopus, or coral vine, a native of Mexico so also called Mexican creeper. And this is an evidence that an introduced species usually becomes invasive. 

Without the coral vine, the expanse of the meadow looks like this, with only this flowers. It is Tridax procumbens, a declared noxious weed in many states of the US,  but it is not declared invasive here maybe because it is just not written as is yet, but it really is very invasive. It's reported to have come from tropical America. Cattle doesn't eat this but the butterflies and bees frequent them too. 

 This very showy inflorescence is the Clerodendrum speciosissimum, originally from Java. It might be cultivated in other areas, but they just grow under the coconut trees and other marginal lands in our property. With the so plenty of seeds produced, they eventually grow anywhere in our property. I tried once to plant it in containers, but it didn't grow as nice as when left on its own. And the smell of the leaves will deter gardeners in growing this near the well trodden paths. Better grow this at the back of the property. They are better left seen but untouched!

Again, this is another volunteer that i just saw growing nicely under the bushes. It produces those white beautiful berries, but the flowers are so minute, i haven't observed them. I am still looking for its ID, i hope someone will again help me with this, as they've done with my NOIDs in the past. Thank you.

 This is the flower of the very invasive Saccharum spontaneum. It is one of the pioneer species and an area will eventually be fully occupied if not checked favorably. Slight net searched showed that it has a lot of medicinal properties, and plant parts are very much used in Ayurvedic medicine. But its leaves are so coarse and the edges can cut your skin if you happen to pass by it hurriedly.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

A law on cruelty to plants?

My craze for Epiphyllum oxipetalum, the Queen of the Night, triggered a latent succulent inclination. I will not put its photo here as I've done so many times in the past. So I went out and took some photos if not in our garden, at least from our neighbor's yard. I agree they are so beautiful in the desert, here i don't see much flowers from them, maybe the reason they are maligned and abused. And nothing seems to get most of that battering than this Opuntia below. I saw this in a resort's ground near the beach in Siquijor. There is only one plant there, and many young visitors trying to leave a mark that they were here write something on the leaves.  If only that plant can speak, i am sure it is terribly crying. Nobody seems to care because a plant can't run. Maybe I am wrong with my first premise, so I will reverse it, the plant doesn't flower because it was much abused. What about that?

We have a law about cruelty to animals, but cruelty to plants is not yet in our collective unconscious!

Euphorbia trigona (thanks to LT Expanded for the ID lead), is often used here as marginal borders to limit intrusion. It grows dense and profuse that nothing but small rodents and insects will be able to pass through the small spaces between them. Sometimes free ranged chickens can. The above photo is the top portion of the photo below, before they are pruned. The bottom is sometimes used to lay down things to dry. If constant pruning like this is done to other plants, they might die, but succulents are plants difficult to kill. 

It wont take months before the above photo will again be fully growing and fully green. 

Above photo is also very thorny just like the previous plant, however its trunks are more rounded and the thorns are really hard and scary. This is the thorn of crowns, or the Euphorbia millii.  In the past few years it was introduced here and everybody seems to be planting them, many varieties are available and all households joined planting. Afterwards, the craze stopped and now they have problems in disposing the scary trunks. They just don't die on their own, wherever you put them. Trying to dry them under the sun is futile, they will come to life when the rains come. I cannot discourage my mother to join the craze, now the problem of disposing is with me!

 But just looking at the flowers will really captivate anyone. I cannot blame my mother for being very attracted. You have to be an owner before acknowledging its hazards later on. She planted four colors. Even if two of them were planted in pots, they managed to grow roots via the pot hole and completely strengthened its growth from the soil. Now 2 of them are 2 meters high and can be used as a deadly weapon! Grrrr!

Above is also a lovely plant, the mother of thousands or Kalanchoe daigremontiana. It attracted me too! The many plantlets along every leaf, one each from every notch is really amazing. My mother again succumbed to its bewitching beauty. Today after two years of having it in the property, disposal and eradication is again our problem. I bet those plantlets carried by the eroding soil and effluents during the rainy season will be deposited in some areas and properties in the vicinity. We are in the uplands, and I am sure this is happening at a rapid rate. They will just die when put into burning embers. Another GRRRR! 

Now, I don't know if cruelty to plants should be done into law! I am also one of the abusers. But at least for me i do it following the law of the Survival of the Fittest. Charles Darwin thank you.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Lesser Blooms in our yard

I have not gone home to the property in the province for already two weeks! That means I missed taking the photos of the plants at the middle of the rainy season. But I know what are blooming there are still the same plants i already have, maybe just more blooms appeared, or some blooms already wilted. I also hope that those i pruned and severely cut are now growing luxuriantly and maybe also blooming again. I know the marigolds which are still at the vegetative stages when I left are now having the yellow blooms and the butterflies and bees now happy with their loots. Next week I promise i will go home. I also hope no typhoon will be visiting by then, so I and the butterflies will be happier roaming around.

I call these my lesser blooms because they are not as showy as other plants. These plants are also smaller in size, but they are lovely in their own ways. Some are also neglected by butterflies, but there are other insects which prefer them. I guess just like catterpillars which are very host specific, some insects are host specific too of their nectar sources.

 This Turnera subulata is laced with one hole in each petal. That is very unusual to see in a bloom. I wonder what insect punctured the bloom when it was still in the bud stage, producing the almost similar holes in it. I found it like an insect art! I always notice the very small bee-like insects here, there is one there almost invisible at the center because it is just ~3mm in length.

 The turnera flowers open only in the morning, and another set of flowers will bloom again the next day. The insect patrons are always in a hurry to take advantage of the short time they can avail of its nectar. The most often visitor here is the bumble bee, i wonder which flower they visit in the afternoon, after the Turnera closed.
 Pentas lanceolata also grows voluntarily in our yard. Sometimes, there are years when more colors appear. However, i realized the white doesn't appear often. I purposely planted one and it contributed to the appearance of pale pink and lavender blooms, however i don't have them now. They just were not able to tolerate the very long and hot dry season. Pentas are also loved much by butterflies.

 This is a Sansevieria bloom. It is not very attractive to humans and they are most often cultivated because of their variegated leaves. Since I am not very much attracted to it, I haven't seen any insects attracted to it too. Do you see the correlation with that? It is because i don't stay with it for a long time, so I don't see the insects which visit its blooms. I promise next time i will try to observe its visitors.

Above are the blooms together with the leaves. We use it as hedge in the sidewalk, and when growing profusely retains the soil from being eroded during heavy rains.

I also love the tubelike flowers of this Seemania sylvatica. However, it is easily affected during the dry season, and one of the first species to go to plant heaven!

Sanchezia speciosa is mainly grown for the very dramatic colors and patterns of the leaves. It produces tube-like blooms with very long filament. Taken singly they are lovely too, but when all the tops are producing these spikes, they look so disorganized. So, I pinch most of the inflorescence when they are still very young. 
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Monday, September 17, 2012

A little deja-vu!

I have not been leaving town lately, and somehow that creates an air of unease in my head. Leaving town means riding on a plane to someplace where the landscape is different from the concrete jungle I live in. The only respite from the daily unworthy circumstances are the every-other-weekends going home to the province, where the air is much easier to take in.  That is a 3-hr land trip only, which doesn't correlate to the meaning of 'out-of-town' already in my head.

So when my feet are itching to go away, I open my external drive of photos, and dig, dig, dig for photos of the not so long past and recall the incidents there. Here are some of the  photos of Batanes, the northernmost tip of the Philippines. Only one airline go there, and not many tourists avail of the chances, prices are high without competition. I've been there twice, and hope to be there again one of these days. It is a place not yet conquered much by commercialism, only the typhoons are its frequent visitors. This led to stone houses with 2 feet thick walls to withstand the strong winds. Batanes group of islands are famous, yet seemingly difficult to reach by common standards.

 This is the view to your right, as you are facing the big waves of the Pacific Ocean.

This is the view to the left, with Mt Iraya, the volcano responsible for putting more soil and rocks on the island. Very normal in the area is the loud deep sound confusing every first timers, as to where they are coming from. But those are caused by the big rocks underwater being carried by the waves, bumping every other rock on the same journey. These unceasing phenomenon is responsible for making these rocks and boulders smooth, and changing them to small pieces. The sound is really incredible and unmistakably from the deep. 
These are actually big boulders, and rocks here get smaller in size faster than maybe any other place, which are just left on normal process of weathering. The loudest sound can be heard even while still beyond that ridge, and is loudest when at that cove. That small stretch of smaller rocks at the middle of the cove serves as anchor point for small fishermen's boats.

Rocks are of different origins and colors. I guess volcanologists, geologists and mineral people will find a lot of data from these rocks and boulders. I wonder how long a certain size of rock becomes a pebble.

It is scary to even think of being caught under those waters. Even just maneuvering yourself among the rocks without water is very difficult. Travelling from one site to another is meditative, as you will not allow your mind wander, or you might slip and break your head.

You wont even allow yourself be near the waterline as wave manners are not predictable. Photographers will not allow themselves near it with the danger of being watersoaked, camera and all.

 This is the common flying fish gathered from those waters, among other marine resources found there. These fishes are sometimes even caught flying alongside boats to the other islands, I actually saw one myself for a few minutes, maybe it flew about 6 meters.

 The view at the other side of the island opposite the Pacific is more tamed, but not necessarily safe! But of course these coves offer more sanctuaries for marine organisms, and humans can swim on these areas. In one of those coves, we actually had swimming.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September blooms in the tropics!

All plants rejoice during our rainy season. That includes the smallest weed to the tallest trees. And for the mammals, I am one of the happiest, seeing all of them at their best.

This is one of my caladiums, which i really cannot patiently wait to open so last week i forcefully opened the still rolled leaf. After two weeks here it is, fully opened. I think this is the loveliest among them, and with the largest leaves too. 

This Chrysothemis pulchelia dries during the hot dry months but recovers again when the rains come. The very small seeds scattered on the ground also emerge in lumps, so i thinned most of the emergents and left only a few to continue growing. It needs more space for the leaves to expand. The situation above is still compact and a more spacious condition is needed.

This four o'clock, which we call 'alas cuatro' (Spanish for 4 o'clock') is just salvaged seeds from plants i see on the roadside somewhere. It has fully grown with very beautiful color. Our usual color for this is red or violet, and this is the first time i see this color. I know there are lots of hybrid colors in other countries, but i haven't seen them here. It is not really attractive for many because of the blooming time at night. The already close and wilt when the sun rises the following day. (Mirabilis jalapa)

This is the picture of 4 o'clock the following morning, not really very attractive with the many blooms already wilted.

The already acclimatized gaillardia has been loving the rains. It started growing during the dry season. It was sent here as seeds from a temperate climate, Illinois, USA.

An old red shrimp plant has been growing here since the dry season. I did not cut the old growths, and the flowers seem to suffer by not sending more blooms in the spike. Or maybe it needs more organic matter in the soil.

Our Impatiens balsamina has been with us for many years now. A few years back we also have the double petalled red, beige and this pink, plus the single petalled white and beige. We just let the seeds dehisce and scatter on the ground. But this time only this color appeared. Others could have dried totally because of the very hot and long dry months.

Our petunia did not show the typical beautiful blooms i see in the sub tropical setting. They are not as prolific here and we only have a few stems left from the dry season. This is just the ordinary violet.

The yellow-orange heliconia is now producing longer and bigger blooms than during the dry season.

Even the Turnera subulata opens only for a few hours in the morning. At 10-11 o'clock they already  closed, but some insects take advantage of the few hours to get its nectar and pollen. The insect shown here is just about 4mm long.

Ixora javanica is one tough plant. I wonder if this is just a bush or a small branching tree. Ours is already more than 10 ft tall, with lots of branches coming from the ground level. It didn't stop blooming during the dry months but more prolific not when the rains come. The umbels also got bigger and stays in bloom longer. 
The plant is shown below.

Our Hedychium coronarium blooms for the first time. Every stalk end is having flowers, and the sweet scent permeates the nearby areas. It is just subtle and not suffocating unlike other sweet plants. 

Lastly, i am including here such blooms of this mushroom. It also looks like a floriferous plant species. 

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