Monday, July 30, 2018

Endemic Plant Pandakaki

A plant with white small flowers, scattered in our fallowed areas or in little thickets under coconut trees are these shrubs we locally call pandakaki, Tabernaemontana pandacaqui. It is native to the Philippines and other neighboring Asian countries. It is very resistant to drought that we can see them leafless during dry seasons, but eventually grow again with the coming rainy months. I observed that in drier patches they do not grow as tall as this picture, some are just about a foot tall. The stems specially the base of the plant are strong and cannot just be cut or pulled off by hands. We have a lot of this plants in our area and around the surrounding localities. It is reported to be common in Asia, and the Pacific Islands including Australia.

The flowers are white with a bit wavy petals. They do not open simultaneously in big clusters unlike the umbels of some plants in the Apocynaceae family. 

 Flowers are just a little over 1 centimeter in diameter, but they are cute, don't you think so?

It looks like a spinning wheel, and it is loved also by some butterflies.

 The fruits are technically called follicles, and normally emerge as a pair like above. They start as green which changes color as it ripens.

color already turning orange

The follicles eventually become orange as they ripen. 

The black seeds are enclosed in red pulps, seemingly very attractive to eat. These pictures are just as i see them in the wild normal habitat. With those lots of seeds inside a folicle, i can imagine why there are lots of plants i see all around our area in the province. 

Extracts of all parts of the pandacaqui plant is reported to have alkaloids and triterpenoids. It is also known to have medicinal properties. The internet is full of reports on its uses and concoctions and plants are being sold online. 

In my area, i haven't known any use for medicinal purposes, but it is commonly used as landscape materials. It is not very difficult to grow and very tolerant to drought, which probably made it good in ornamental industry. I also observed it to be good nectar plants for some butterfy species, so it can be both used in landscaping and in butterfly gardening. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Million Babies

One early Sunday morning i was out after coffee, donned with my normal jogging pants, long sleeves and a hat. I am expecting to see a lot of butterflies. I purposely intend to go to my so called "butterfly sanctuary" i term i give to an area under some trees where the undergrowths consist of both hosts and nectaring plants for butterfly. For the many visits i've been going there, it did not fail me. Many butterflies converge there, and also maybe the already very tall trees give the butterflies the environment both not fully exposed to the sun and the enough humidity for them to live nicely. 

However, this time my time was spent differently. I noticed that the area's vegetation are already in the mature stage, maybe not anymore good hosts for the caterpillars. So i took photos of some moths and beetles that i normally ignore when butterflies abound. This morning the primary purpose is not there so i took photos of whatever took my fancy. Even the dried grass fruits ready for wind dispatch are good photo subjects. 

Then i found this! I was a bit scared as they are very plenty, newly hatched baby spiders. Maybe they are hundreds of thousands in one group. I thought they might just have newly emerged. I can't even see the egg sacs they emerged from. 

 undisturbed yet

I watched closely at the somehow not moving spiderlings, just hanging on those almost invisible fine webs. I can't even see their mother even outside the community.

After getting a few pictures i tried disturbing the web with some little movements. 

Everybody moved downwards sliding on the web threads attached to the base of the plant they are in. Can you see the fine threads sparkling with the morning sunlight? They seem to be very strong, swirling pliantly with the wind. 

There they go, everybody's instinct is to come down for safety, maybe to hide on the ground. They can sense that their present predator is big maybe because of the strong movement of their web-house. Others just fell, maybe purposely or maybe they just slipped from the web, i don't know! The drama continues and i was so curious with my little experiment. 

After a few minutes, and after i am done with my photos i stopped moving the branch they are in. Just a few seconds of silence and they immediately rushed upwards again to their big original community. I just am not sure what happens to those that fell to the ground, i hope they can still come up to their safety again. Their pace is so fast, in a few seconds they are already up there again. The only signal or communication they have is the movement of their web and the branch the web is clinging. 

Spiderlings are hatched with that plenty of numbers because their predators are plenty, and a lot of them die while at their spiderling-hood stage. The number is nature's way of preserving the species through the few that will survive its harsh environment. I just did not have the time to observe more for their other characteristics as a group, nor to watch for any predator that might come here. Or probably with my presence for a few minutes, they were spared by the predators who are also scared of me. I went there again 2 weeks after, they were not there anymore. I hope that means they are already independent making their own lives, away from their spider siblings! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for July

Our Rainy Season started in June this year. So our plants this July are already very happy, everything sprouting from rain saturation. I went home some weekends specifically to catch the blooms and to post them here for GBBD. More plants start to show their growth, blooming happily with their plenty of food uptake. And the photographer, in return, is happily documenting their conditions as well. These are just some of the more obviously conspicuous blooms resulting from the heavy rains.

 the sleeping shoots were shaken from slumber and produced blooms.

 The lilies were terminated off their dormancy, like this Scadoxus multiflorus or Blood Lily. We don't see them during the dry season, as their leaves are gone with only their live bulbs in the soil. With the first heavy rains they regain growth, all the flowers sprout first before the leaves. They sprouted a bit staggeredly, so we can see the red umbels for at least 2 weeks.

 I also observed that the stingless bees swarm on them with their legs full of pollen to be brought to their hives. In a month the umbels will die and be replaced with green leaves, again accumulating food to prepare for their next dormancy in the dry season.

 Crinum jagus

Crinum zeylanicum

Pteroceras ungiculatum (orchid)

This is an endemic orchid in the country. It has been there hanging on the trunks of my trees, self-supporting, a bit dying during the dry season but suddenly comes to life with blooms when the rains come. It also produces a lot of pods. 

Mussaenda Dona Luz

Those colorful parts are bracts, enclosing the small yellow flowers. We cut all those branches 2x a year when those bracts wither. The succeeding shoots will enable the tree to accumulate food again for the next flowering, which coincides just after the first heavy rains. 

Clausena sp. 

This small tree belongs to the Rutaceae which include the citrus. Flowers entice a lot of butterflies there on top. It is called "malarayap" in the our local term because the leaves emit a scent like that of "dayap" or our local lime. 

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui (pandakaki)

This is a bush which luxuriantly grows in our areas, fallowed lands, under coconut trees, vacant or marginal lands,  everywhere in our vicinity. The butterflies also love nectaring on them. It produces very colorful orange pods when ripe that can be easily seen from a distant, in contrast with the green environment. 

Hoya lacunosa 

Hoya lacunosa is one of the small-leaves hoya, with equally small umbels. But its overpowering scent makes up for the size of the flowers. After the heavy rains it produced a lot of umbels. The above plant alone has 15 umbels. 

Hoya lacunosa 

Hoya obscura

This plant is also considered small because of the leaves, but it is a bit bigger than H. lacunosa. Even just the lacunosa or the obscura flowers alone are open, one can immediately realize that a hoya is in bloom in the hoya enclosure. The scent is easily discernible at 5 meter radius or 10 m diameter. 

Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa (syn. Disocactus ramulosus) 

This is a red-leafed hanging cactus whose fruits are so small at less than a centimeter in diameter, changing color from green to white as they mature. Every notch on the leaves produce flowers that eventually become fruits. 

Even the fungi are happy emerging with the start of the rainy season as the brown fungus above and the yellow ones below. I do not know their identification.

It is my first time to upload a video in my posts here, but i cannot control sharing with you the happiness of those bees nectaring on the newly opening Hoya alwitriana. This hoya is so much different than most because it opens in the morning, when the bees and other insects are starting to forage for nectar and pollen. Most hoyas open late in the afternoon to early evening. This scene above always happen when an umbel opens but the bees leave after a few minutes.

It is so nice to watch something like this in nature, and the bees do not seem to mind a human watching them. Those honey bees are also endemic in the country, Apis cerana. Their honey is my most prefered honey among the honey producing bees.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Bits and Pieces in my World

As i write this, our rainy days have not  stopped since last weekend. Rainy season has arrived finally! Our heat subsided, hopefully our electric bills as well. It started with a thunderstorm, followed by a typhoon that already left, but there is still a strong pull of Southeast Moonsoon rains giving us floodings in some areas and of course No Classes in all levels. The last one is much awaited by students, young and old. Government employees also share in the rainy-day-holidays because work was declared half day last Monday. Then of course yesterday is our INDEPENDENCE DAY! Many believe we don't really have a TRUE independence, but we wallowed in "holiday". I cannot just go home to the province to attend to my plants, but i had some extra time to clean the house and do the laundry. And of course, i had more time editing my pictures, blogging and in FB. Haha, it is a real holiday.

Sanzevieria trifasciata blooms last dry season, with full sweet scent at night.

Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, grows well when fertilized. This just started from a very small plantlet like those at the end of the long stems. Now it has a lot of plantlets ready to be an independent plant. 

A volunteer eggplant i nurtured well with fertilizers, and has already given me the first fruit. Those two fruits will in turn be for my sister and mother who water it daily during the very dry months. I hope it will grow even better now during the rainy season. 

that is the first fruit which i ate with relish, excitement and thankfulness

a moth larva is trying to get a share, but i saw it before it was able to bite

These are guavas i found in the thicket, fallowed areas when i was looking for butterflies. Eaten early morning, it gave me a full doze of Vitamin C requirement and tummy full too. It gave me power in chasing butterflies in the wild to photograph.

And to complete the story of my day, let me show you our new young kittens, which do not stop at all from running, teasing each other, pulling each other's tail and everything. Look at that, they were just stopped by my camera. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Red Hanging Cactus

I am not so fund of growing cactus, just like what is a seemingly craze now here in our area! That doesn't mean i don't like them. Of course i appreciate them and in garden shows i spend time taking their pictures and scrutinizing them intently. However,  in my small unit in the big city where i only have a few plants outside my 5th Floor Window plus a few inside a rach utilizing the glass window for light, the plants suffer. Suffering is either from neglect when i am on travels for a few days, or from too much pampering when i am here and can't seem to have enough plants to tend. I inadvertently water them more often than is required, so most often they die. Please don't blame me, i can't just seem to remember they hate too much water!!!

I already killed a few round cactus and one stapeliad which is already a foot long. So this red Rseudorhipsalis ramulosa, i transfered to our garden in the province where most of my plants are. I planted it on a very small pot and hang it outside the walls of my hoya garden. It receives direct afternoon sun and sometimes forgotten to be watered. 

Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa (syn. Disocactus ramulosus) 

That flower is less than a centimeter in diameter. So special it is, i thought! I noticed that it has been flowering and fruiting last dry season, and the leaves are fully red that makes it more attractive. 

 The plant only have a few leaves because its growth is very much restricted by the very less soil it is planted in. Moreover, neglect did not give it much energy to grow. It matured fast because of those conditions and already gone to the reproductive stage, maybe in anticipation of protecting the species!

Look at those fruits at different stages of maturity, they are really cute. True to the characteristics of the leaf cactus, it has flowered and fruited at every notch on the leaves. Amazing survival characteristics that sometimes make some of their relatives very invasive. 

I will try transferring a few leaves in a bigger pot to produce a bigger plant. I have seen bigger hanging plants in the net, which are really looking great, especially with the flowers blooming simultaneously or with those fruits at greenish tinge.

I promise i will not be watering them too much to avoid deaths. They are too colorful to experience the death sentence!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Blooms as Rainy Season Starts

Climate change is already a reality for all of us. Our Dry Season in March - May gave us an overheated environment, resulting in excessive electric bills for the airconditioning units and tripled water bills for those with gardens. There are also incidents of people suffering from strokes from jobs that entail too much heat exposures. I myself cannot just go home to the province every weekend because of heat on the roads. My plants suffered from neglect during those times. They are just watered insufficiently as our water supply also dwindled during hot months.

And there are unusual inconsistensies in terms of drizzles and short rains. We just had them starting in 2016, last year and this year. Sometimes it lessened the immediate heat, but eventually increasing the Heat Index because of the high humidity plus high temperatures. As for the plants, many are blessed by the sudden outpours. However, I as a gardener is not very happy with the effects of intermittent drizzles to my dormant bulbs. These include hippeastrum, crinum, blood lilies and a few more. The effects are much more obvious for the hippeastrum. My H puniceum hedges had intermittent blooms that did not give me a fully blooming spectacle like in the early 2000s. This brought me some sadness.

On the other hand, there is also a redeeming advantage, as i will show you below. Previous post in May shows the first hippeastrum blooms.

Hippeastrum 1

 I self pollinated one of my hippeastrum hybrids with the hope that i will be getting characters differently from the parent. This is a very old hybrid as my search landed on H x johnsonii, supposedly the first hybrid since 18th century. It was said to be a cross from H reginae and H vitatum, however we can never tell the truth for my bulb as hybridizing is easy and anybody could have done so in the long life of the hybrid that landed on me. I expect that characters segregate through constant selfing or backcrossing, eventually getting the characteristics of the parents of old. However, this entails a long time as it takes 3-4 years from seed to blooming.

 My first original plant had 3-4 flowers per scape. My first offspring, ABA-1-1, bloomed last year and produced the same characteristics as my original plant. This 2nd sibling, ABA-1-2, bloomed now and has same characters. It also has undulating tepals.

 Hippeastrum 2
 The 3rd bulb, ABA-1-3, bloomed now for the first time and exhibited different characters. It has fully separated tepals and the shapes are thinner except the uppermost. The middle rays emanating from the throat is retained. The characteristic folding back of the tepals is a characteristics of the original plant.

The abaxial characters differed much from the original plant, with those dark maroon color at the base of the tepals.

 Hippeastrum 3
 This is another NOID plant given 2 years ago by a friend. Attempts to pollinate it failed because pollen grains seem to be defective, or not present. I wonder what caused those characters. It bloomed normally last year, but this time the pedicels did not separate fully producing a twin bloom.

The twin bloom is unusual for hippeastrum flowers, but they are beautiful that way. 

One of the 3 flowers is separated showing the normal features. 

Hippeastrum 4
The last gave me more excitement as i had been culturing this for 4 years from seed. A Facebook friend from the US gave me some seeds but did not know its parents, except that one is Blossom Peacock. She is just a collector and does not give particular attention to their IDs. The seeds gave me only 6 bulbs, with only this one producing the first flower. I am supposed to call it Blossom Peacock, but the blooms are much much different from it. 

Blossom Peacock is a scented, multi-petalled hippeastrum. This offspring only has an addded single row of petals inside the main layer. The anthers look good although am not sure if there are viable pollens. She originally told me it was selfed, however the offspring told me otherwise. Now i went back to her and probed, eventually  telling me the pod parent could probably be a very old Florida NOID hybrid. She even sent me the photo of the possible pod-parent. Doubles are normally the pollen donors because they normally lack productive stigma. 

Even at the closed bud stage it is already lovely. This is the first bulb to flower, so i still have to closely watch the remaining 5 plants. I am sure some of them will flower next year. 

The difficulty with hippeastrum is the single flowering once-a-year. It really is taxing to the impatient gardener like me. But i have no choice, i must be patient, withold the excitement for a few more years. 

The first heavy rains in June was so good in bringing out the life from my dormant plants. And the almost simultaneous blooming of my precious ones gave me lots of joy. At least my first timers showed beautiful characters, eliciting more excitement in selfing, backcrossing, observing. There is only one drawback, the continuous rains washed out all the possible pollens. Being an incurable optimist, this gives me more excitement for the next years ahead.