|Agave tequilana, Aka blue agave (agave azul) or tequila agave, is an agave plant that is native to Jalisco, Mexico, but can grow in southern and western United States, and central and tropical South America, as well as in the Caribbean. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license by Stan Shebs) "The flowers are pollinated by a native bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) and produce several thousand seeds per plant. The plant then dies. The shoots on commercial plants are removed when about a year old to allow the heart to grow larger. The plants are then reproduced by planting these shoots..."-(http://bit.ly/1czRkH6)|
The reason I'm posting this image is because I am no longer consuming honey. I have been a vegetarian for many years, but it is now that I'm acquiring more information on Veganism, yes, the other 'form' of 'vegetarianism'. "Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan."-(http://goo.gl/DK21Z)
The term 'vegan' was coined by Donald Watson in 1944 when he co-founded the British Vegan Society. I considered myself a regular 'vegetarian', who simply did not consume meat. Nevertheless, as I've also read about the 'human' intrusion in harvesting honey, I am now consuming Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup.
Bees have been known to originate from the tropics. The establishment of beehives for profitable businesses in temperate zones has disrupted their behaviour and genetical make-up. A phenomena called 'Colony Collapse Disorder' (CCD) has risen due to the effect of many pesticides and attempts to change the ecology of bees in general. "Some researchers have attributed the syndrome to the practice of feeding high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to supplement winter stores [of beehives]. The variability of HFCS may be relevant to the apparent inconsistencies of results. One European writer has suggested a possible connection with HFCS produced from genetically modified corn. If this were the sole factor involved, however, this should also lead to the exclusive appearance of CCD in wintering colonies being fed HFCS, but many reports of CCD occur in other contexts with beekeepers who do not use HFCS.
Other researchers state that colony collapse disorder is mainly a problem of feeding the bees a monoculture diet when they should receive food from a variety of sources/plants. In winter, the bees are given a single food source such as corn syrup (high-fructose or other), sugar and pollen substitute. In summer, they may only pollinate a single crop (e.g., almonds, cherries, or apples). A study published in 2010 found that bees that were fed pollen from a variety of different plant species showed signs of having a healthier immune system than those eating pollen from a single species. Bees fed pollen from five species had higher levels of glucose oxidase than bees fed pollen from one species, even if the pollen had a higher protein content. The authors hypothesised that CCD may be linked to a loss of plant diversity."-(http://bit.ly/1kxy6CM)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Today I'm posting an image of Agave tequilana, the plant which is harvested in Mexico for both tequila and Agave nectar.
Posted by Maria at 10:13 PM
Monday, December 9, 2013
|Peacock Spikemoss (Selaginella wildenowii) Aka as Spikemoss, Blue Fern, and Helecho Azul, is native to China, but thrives in mountainous tropical regions, and has been reported in the U.S. (AL, FL, GA, LA, MS). It belongs to the genus of Selaginella which are not true ferns, but are from the Lycopodiopsida division which are the 'fern allies'. When seen for the first time they are easily mistaken for ferns, but they have thicker and waxy-like leaves.|
|Selaginella wildenowii is a species that has unusual rich blue-green foliage, hence the allusion to a 'peacock' blue. The stems may root into the ground near the tips, and new plants can be started from these. They must be in the shade and are used for 'groundcover'. (Note, groundcover can have different meanings, this is why I linked an article to the word). Although in agriculture 'groundcover' is used to prevent weeds; it doesn't really doesn't seem to do that very well. This Spikemoss is covered with weeds and other herbs.|
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
|Southern Balsampear (Momordica balsamina) Aka Bitter Melon, Cundeamor, Gourd, Bitter Squash, Balsam Apple, Balsamina, Cucumber, Bálsamo, Catajera, Melón Amargo Melón de Ratón, Cunde Amor, Papayiyo, Pepino cimarrón, and African Pumpkin, among others. Momordica balsamina is a tendril-bearing annual vine native to the tropical regions of Africa, introduced and invasive in Asia, Australia, and Central America. In the U.S. it is found in AL, FL, LA, NM, OK,TX, and in the Caribbean.|
|The fruit has a distinct warty exterior and an oblong shape. It belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae, which includes gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers, and others. "Balsam Apple was introduced into Europe by 1568 and was used medicinally to treat wounds. In 1810, Thomas Jefferson planted this vine in his flower borders at Monticello along with larkspur, poppies, and nutmeg." (http://bit.ly/18n4931)|
Sunday, December 1, 2013
After blogging about the Wild Poinsettia, I was given a traditional Christmas Poinsettia plant and was so fascinated by its color. Yet, this Christmas variety has very humble origins. It is still a weed in the wild. All that is done with this plant is use a 'grafting' method, where tissues (or seedlings) from one plant are inserted into another, so that two similar plants join together and grow as a unit. The result of the grafted plant in the case of the Poinsettia, is a bushier, stockier plant. Otherwise, without the graft, the Christmas Poinsettia still exists in the wild, but as a weed, and not as bushy. Grafting is a horticultural technique; a method of joining two or more plants together, it is entirely manual, and has nothing to do with 'genetically modified produce' that is done in laboratories. Furthermore, sometimes grafting occurs in the wild, naturally, as when two plants or trees grow close together and fuse organically as one unit.
"The relationship of the plant to Christmas stems from a legend in 16th century Mexico, of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias."--http://goo.gl/M33tti
|Poinsettia, The Christmas Plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Aka Christmas Flower, Flor de Pascua, Easter Flower, Étoile de Noël, Euphorbia poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Fleur Pentecôte, Lobster Flower Plant, Lobsterplant, Mexican Flame Leaf, Noche Buena, Paintedleaf, Papagallo, Pastora, and Poinsettia pulcherrima, is native to Mexico and Central America. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico. "The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least 5 days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color"-http://goo.gl/M33tti|
The plant was commercialized by the Ecke family business, which eventually created a patent still in existence today. This is the link to their website: http://www.ecke.com. "Until the 1990s, the Ecke family, who had moved their operation to Encinitas, California in 1923, had a virtual monopoly on poinsettias owing to a technique that made their plants much more attractive. They produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. A poinsettia left to grow on its own will naturally take an open, somewhat weedy look. The Eckes' technique made it possible to get every seedling to branch, resulting in a bushier plant".-http://goo.gl/M33tti
In the 1900's, however, the method of grafting the plant was discovered, and now there are businesses flourishing all over Latin America. The Eckes' patent in the U.S. remains, nevertheless, "still producing over about 70% of the domestic market and 50% of the worldwide market."--http://goo.gl/M33tti
Some of you may not agree with this type of business. I myself feel a bit uneasy knowing that a simple weed is taken from Nature and commercialized, and on top of that altered by the grafting method. Many growers have hybridized many variations of Poinsettias, to make the leaves look a certain way and make them more 'appealing' and marketable. I don't know that I can agree with all these approaches, since the plant in itself for me is very beautiful without hybridization. Yet, I can accept it as an urban phenomena. People in cities do like to see Poinsettias in their homes at Christmas time. Many may not see them in the wild for whichever reason. So to buy the commercial plant may be a viable option. Since it's also a plant and not a flower arrangement, it may also sparkle up an interest in growing plants and gardening in general, which in turn may have a positive impact in the lives of some people.
(These images where post processed in PS using a high key effect and were shot on a white blanket. The white of the blanket was blown out in PS, and masks were made to leave the plant intact, as it was naturally exposed using flash off the camera wirelessly, together with the proprietary flash of the camera.)
Friday, November 29, 2013
|Euphorbia heterophylla L. is often confused with 'Painted Leaf', or 'Fire on the Mountain' (Euphorbia cyathophora ), which I blogged about last October, and has leaves that are sometimes distinctively lobed. Even though this one is called 'Painted Spurge', it's not the same as 'Painted Leaf' or 'Fire on the Mountain'. The latter has a cluster of leaves directly beneath its flowers and usually have very distinct bright reddish-pink or orange colored bases. This one has a whitish colored base on its leaves.|
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Candle Bush (Senna alata) Aka Flor del Secreto, Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Talantro, Talantalán, Vela de la Emperatriz, Arbusto de Vela, Ringworm Tree, and Candletree, is native to Mexico, and grows in pantropical regions. This tree or shrub, is called 'Candle Tree' because the flowers have a vibrant yellowish, orange color, apparently attributed to have a candle-like appearance with 'flaming' color. The species is from the genus Senna.
"Cassia alata or Senna alata is often called the Ringworm Bush because of its very effective fungicidal properties, for treating ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin. The leaves are ground in a mortar to obtain a kind of "green cotton wool". This is mixed with the same amount of vegetable oil then rubbed on the affected area 2-3 times a day. A fresh preparation is made every day. Its laxative effect is also well proven."-http://bit.ly/Pf7w5X 1/50 sec; f/16; ISO 400, @60mm
I was concerned with getting the macro shot, because the tiny flowers, measuring only an inch, remain half open. The flower has three stamens, and one long pistil. This was shot at f/14 with ISO 400 , but enough DOF to illustrate its parts. I did have to add a mask here in PS, to darken the background, because the flower got mixed up with the others, and I had to single it out.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Spider plant (Cleome gynandry) Aka African Cabbage, Maleza de Araña, Spider Wisp, Shona Cabbage, and Cat’s Whiskers, is a wild green leafy vegetable with a cluster of white and 'spiky' flowers that grows all over tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas. "It is not formally cultivated, but among poor rural communities of Southern Africa, young leaves are collected, cooked, and eaten like spinach."-http://bit.ly/eSrVgn Shot at f/5.6. Dark background unaltered and created by -EV exposure compensation and flash.
This one was shot at f/7, with better DOF. This plant is an annual wildflower native to Africa but has become widespread in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. It is an erect, branching plant generally between 25 cm and 60 cm tall. Its sparse leaves are each made up of 3-5 oval-shaped leaflets.
I found it on the crack of a sidewalk. Cleome gynandra is considered an invasive weed in many places in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Pacific, according to Wiki.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
The reason why I'm posting this monocot flowering grass images is because knowing the difference between monocots and dicots has really helped me in identifying plants in a morphological sense. The leaf structure and branching habits of a monocot are very different from that of a dicot, and this is why I'm sharing what I've read with you.
White Star Sage (Rhynchospora nervosa) Aka Yerba de Estrella, Grass-star, Star-grass, Sedge-white starlet, Star-rush, Tiririca-branca and White-topped, is an erect, herbaceous perennial sedge with white bracts, giving it the appearance of white petals with long, green pointed leaves. This image is prior to blooming.
This species (R. nervosa) is native to the Caribbean and neotropical areas (Central and South America, Caribbean), but is very similar to (Rhynchospora colorata), which is the one native to southeastern North America, from Virginia west to New Mexico in the United States, and it also grows in the Caribbean. They are extremely similar plants, but from what I've read, R. nervosa grows taller (50 cm tall).
The inflorescence is a dense cluster of small spikes, each containing several tiny flowers. It is striated at the apex, glabrous stem with fibrous roots and short rhizomes. This is a monocot. What's amazing is how many years ago, I would pass this flower by without even noticing it. As common as it has always been, at this moment in my life, I have found so much beauty, perfection and harmony, in this inconspicuous weedy grass.
Flowering White Star Sage
Monocots (left image) have an embryo with single cotyledon, pollen is with single furrow or pore, flower parts are in multiples of three, major leaf veins are parallel, roots are adventitious, and secondary growth is absent. Monocots are the grasses, many of the weeds, palms trees, and even orchids are monocots.
Dicots (right image) have an embryo with two cotyledons, pollen with three furrows or pores, flower parts are in multiples of four or five, major leaf veins are long and reticulated, roots develop from the radicle, and secondary growth often present.
(Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic by Peter Halasz)
Part of this information was derived from this source:
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I don't know if you remember the post about the Poinciana seedlings I germinated at home. It was a major accomplishment, since I've always lived in apartments and condominiums, I've always had to have plants in pots by a window sill. Today I will share with you the Poinciana saplings as they are now as compared to how they were four months ago,
|Here is where I learned the difference. The 'cotyledons' are the embryonic first leaves of a seedling. The number of cotyledons present is one characteristic used by botanists to distinguish the flowering plants (angiosperms) from the gymnosperms (seed producing plants). There are 'monocots' and 'dicots'. Plants with two cotyledons are termed "dicots". This is a dicot. |
I am posting this diagram because soon I will be featuring a monocot plant which precisely illustrates the 'Hyypogeal Germination process.' "Cotyledons may be either epigeal, expanding on the germination of the seed, throwing off the seed shell, rising above the ground, and perhaps becoming photosynthetic; or hypogeal, not expanding, remaining below ground and not becoming photosynthetic. The latter is typically the case where the cotyledons act as a storage organ, as in many nuts and acorns."-http://bit.ly/17JBK6O Many weeds are hypogeal and resist mowing. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license by *Germinacion.png: Kat1992", derivative work by Begoon)
|Two Foot Poinciana Sapling This is one of the saplings that I have grown. I included a smartphone to give a sense of scale. I've also found out that there are many discrepancies as to what differentiates a sapling from a young tree. I found sources saying that a sapling becomes a young tree after one year, another source said it happened after three years, yet another source stated that simply reaching one foot high makes it a young tree. To me they are still saplings. They are presently growing on the sunny grounds of our condominium.|
|These images were post processed to give a 'high key' light effect in PS, which means that in ACR I suppressed the shadows and blew out the whites from the background wall. This got rid of any background textures from the background.|
Sunday, November 17, 2013
|Stiffhair Waxweed (Cuphea strigulosa) Aka Hierba de Toro and Cigar Plant, is native to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, West Indies, Venezuela, and naturalised in Southern Florida. It is an annual and perennial herb that was discovered in the Florida Everglades on 1998 by Rick and Jean Seavy: http://www.seaveyfieldguides.com/About%20Us/new_USA_plant_species_discovered.htm Its generic name is derived from the Greek word 'kyphos' meaning "bent," "curved," or "humped", and "strigulosa" stemming from Latin 'strigosa', meaning lean and scraggy, referring to its jagged petals. Many flowers in the 'Cuphea' genus resemble tiny burning cigars when flowering due to their longish, burning red calyxes, hence their popular name of 'cigar plants'. Again, this was another flower which I meant to profile more extensively but was mowed down. The flower measures barely 1/2" and grows amongst grasses. To maintain an ISO of 200 I was only able to get f/8.|
Friday, November 15, 2013
|Alyce Clover (Alysicarpus vaginalis) Aka Trebol Alicia, Buffalo Clover, Buffalo-bur, One-leaf clover, and White Moneywort, is native to Africa but has become naturalised in all pantropical areas and some temperate zones. In the US it's seen in AL, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS, NC, TX, and VA. According to Merriam-Webster, its name Alyce derives from New Latin Alysicarpus, genus name, and from Greek halysis meaning chain, and karpos meaning fruit; while vaginalis in botany refers to sheath. Other popular names such as 'Buffalo Clover' refer to the plant growing is pastures as forage for livestock. |
Clover means 'a Meadow Flower', but it's also a popular idiomatic phrase meaning: ""To live in clover", meaning to live a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity. This originally referred to the fact that clover is fattening to cattle"- http://bit.ly/TZJpU. It is a persistent weed which survives mowing and grazing in many areas, hiding amongst the grass. This flower barely measures 3/8" long and it's from the legume family, Fabaceae. Today I went back to continue photographing this plant, but it was completely gone due to the mowing of the lawn where it was growing.