Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unusual Creature!

I was watching and scrutinizing all my hoyas last weekend. I studied all the growths and patterns of development and compared them to what i remember from two weeks ago. I am glad there are some progress, a few peduncles are promising to produce flowers. A few flower buds are already forming in some, and some umbels are already about to open the blooms. I unleashed some twining vines, clipped them to where they should be to have a semblance of order.

And then i found an unusaul creature. I was observing it thinking it is a big black ant. It is just almost one centimeter in length, from tip to tip of the body.  I immediately took some photos because it was an unusual ant. Later on at the house after transferring the shots to the computer, i suddenly realized it is really an "unusual ant" because it actually has four pairs of legs. Ants are insects, so they only have 3 pairs of legs. My creature has 4 pairs, therefore it is a spider! This is the most unusual spider i have seen, because the body is that of an ant, and the mandibles do not look like anything i have seen yet. Moreover, its lenght is almost the same as the length of its body! How so very incredible.

 Look at those strong 3 pairs of legs, it really looks like an ant. But there is another pair of leg in front, which acts like an antennae, that are extending forward.

I am lucky it didn't move away with my presence, with the macro lens almost touching it. I wonder if it saw itself on the lens and maybe it was so scared that it was frozen in place! Look at those eyes, it has a lot; a big pair in front, smaller pair beside it, and another small pair at the side almost at the back of the head. I wonder why it was provided with a lot of eyes around its head. And those mandibles, is that size really vital for it to live? I suddenly get so interested in learning about it.

At this angle we can see the relationships of the body parts. The very very slim waist makes it very similar to ants. The 4 pairs of legs very visible here, together with the eyes and that very unusual mandible almost longer than its head or its abdomen.

I tell you I am so engrossed with the photos but i only have 5 of them, only these 3 are more vivid. Then i posted it in the arachnophile group in FB asking the authorities for its identification. Lo and behold, it is called ant mimicking spiders, Myrmarachne sp. There's a lot of species of these genus, it is very difficult to point one species like this one. So I am already happy with that genus, that suffice for now! I learned a lot of information from this supposedly "ant", turning out to be a spider, a Myrmarachne species.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Uncommon Shots

Garden Shows in our big city are held three times per year: once by the Philippine Horticultural Society and twice by the Philippine Orchid Society. I usually go to these events to photograph the landscape exhibits, the unusual plants and flowers, or whatever something catch my attention. One show just finished in early February. This time i even attended two lectures, that i seldom do in previous years. It just happened that the lecturers are my friends since college, so i have to show up, at least for moral support. I even had snacks with them coupled with endless chats.

However, i wonder if my interest in photography already waned because i don't feel like shooting now. The landscape exhibits are done by big private companies, and the exhibit area are now wider, but still I seem to be too lazy. I just caught a few of them. What occupied my time was looking for hoyas in the commercial booths, and i ended up with four plants for home.

 I ended up taking a selfie shot!

 a very curly bird's nest fern

Dutchman's pipe or Aristolochia sp. It is a vine and the flower got it as the common name. Does anybody know if the Dutch has this design for their pipes? I just know this is a hostplant of a very beautiful birdwing butterfly. My nephew saw one butterfly once in the wilder part of our property, so this Aristolochia might be in some corner of the lot. If i have time i will look for this vine, help it grow fuller so the butterfly will have more food. Do you agree that it is unusual? It doesn't look like a flower at all, maybe just a Dutchman's pipe!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Valentine's GBBD

Happy Valentine's Day my Dear Blogger Friends! I am putting 14 plants here to signify Valentine's Day.

Our cold temperature experience only lasted for 3 weeks in January- February, courtesy of the cold spillage from Russia and North China. We had then 19°C in the mornings before sunrise, and you people from the temperate countries, please don't laugh! This is the coldest we receive so far, and we are so thankful for the lovely experience. We all wish to have it longer, so we will be more efficient, more relax and of course, happier. Since last week, the easterlies with warm air from the Pacific got here again, and we are now above 30°C, our normal temps. Our dry season has not officially started, but we feel that we are already in it. Actually, this is already the beginning of our dry season. The symptoms around us confirmed all these.

The city sidewalks grasses are now brown. Many of the trees are shedding their leaves and the skies are clearer through them. Our home garden also changes its character.

Orange shrimp plant, Mexican plume, Justicia fulvicoma. This is a new plant snipped by my mother from relatives, and seems to thrive well with us, but needs watering.

Above and below are both Impatiens balsamina, both rainy season plants here. They are now at the end of their lives evidenced by the maturing pods and dehiscing flowers.

Odontonema strictum is also a rainy season plant, but it still produces flowers because it is planted under canopies of trees.

We have some plant types depending on our 2 seasons. Those above die during the dry months, while those below persist throughout the dry season despite their pitiful conditions. Most of them i trim and prune to get rid of the lanky bald branches and to produce healthy growths again come rainy months.

This bush lantana is a prolific grower during the dry season, but is now showing old age. This condition of yellowing leaves and less flowers even aggravates during the dry season and must be pruned before the rainy season begins.

Sanchezia speciosa, which i favored for its leaves is now tall and starts to produce blooms. I just pinch the growing points to delay its aging. I don't like it when a lot of protruding inflorescence comes out. Some tips were missed and still produce some flower buds like that below. 

The crotons or Codiaum variegatum produce flowers at the start of the dry season. I guess that is its genetic code to continue the species because dry season might extinguish them, they are just trying to ensure continuity of species. But they are tolerant of our dry season like the Lantana and the Sanchezia.

Above is a flower umbel in a croton flower spike.

Another tolerant or even resistant species is this Dracaena surculosa. A lot of flowers are produced this time, with wonderful scent at night around 9:00pm. In the morning, these flowers are already closed and the scent just happens during the time of blooming. 

Dracaena surculosa blooms are not only sweet scented, they also look like sparklers in the dark! I am so glad it is planted just near the living room, flooding us with its mild scent while we are viewing TV.

Ixora javanica is a tree species, producing bigger and heavier umbels. This particular plant is maybe around 10 ft tall. It also normally starts flowering at the start of the dry season continuing until May when the rains start to arrive. It is mostly vegetative throughout the rainy months.

The above yellow cosmos came from seeds i got from a trip, only 1 plant grow to this height. It was just cared for with constant watering, so able to grow nicely in a pot. The petioles are reddish so i am expecting some different pinkish petals when the flowers mature. 

Among our plants, the above is the newcomer, as it's just been exhumed from the wild portion of our property where we normally thread upon. I originally thought it was a hoya so am ecstatically expectant for it to bloom. However, blooms after a few months proved it is not a hoya, maybe Dischidia rosea or Dischidiopsis parasitica, with those lipstick-like dark red flowers. But the plant itself is lovely in a hanging basket. I guess i will love it together with the hoyas.

This orange Crossandra infundibuliformis is a newly acquired plant too. It shows invasiveness and can withstand our long dry season. It also has a red variety.

This one is the most tolerant because it has been with us since time began! We normally erradicate this in the property, but now i allow a few plants because the butterflies very much love them. It is bushy that produces maybe 4-5 inflorescence per plant, so you can imagine the butterflies visiting them. 

Of course i will not end the Garden Bloggers Bloom Parade without showing the plant that is keeping me busy while at home. They actually get most of my weekends. I arrive after lunch on a Saturday and leave at 3pm the next day, and these hoyas make me feel like i still need more time at home. There are no blooms last weekend, but the peduncles are enough to make my weekend so rewarding. It might take 3 more weeks for the above to open and i hope to come home again with them still in full show! I will post them next month's GBBD if they will wait for me.