Saturday, November 28, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 105

TinEye came up with an unusually food-centric list of suggestions this time. I mean, with the orange Schlumbergera seedlings, I usually get a lot of tomatoes and strawberries (so tired of tomato pictures), with the occasional carrot, pomegranate, or crawfish for variety, but this color brings up . . . well, more tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, and crawfish, sure, but also tuna, king crab, and watermelon, in addition to the names I'm actually considering. So that was exciting.

Also exciting: it's a handsome bloom. I probably find it more appealing than it deserves, because I don't see this color very often, but I think I'd be pleased regardless.

Got 34 initial options, and managed to bring that down to 11 contenders. Let's Name! That! Seedling!

I can cross off Anjuna pretty quickly, I think. I mean, this could be an Anjuna (a small city in India) if it had to be, but fortunately there are options I like better.

Rectifier is an okay word, and would sort of fit this, I think, but it's a little abstract. Unless you mean the electrical devices, which are concrete but not especially interesting.

Rambutan is a tropical fruit, native to Malaysia and Indonesia, and it sure photographs the same color as this seedling, but I'm a little concerned about the name because: 1) I don't know whether it looks at all the same color in person, and 2) it's not something most Americans are familiar with, and I worry that it'd be confusing in the way that naming a seedling Schlumbergera "Camellia" would be confusing. In some contexts, it might be a problem. If it were a food-related word that was also a common color description, like "peach" or something, it might be usable.1, 2

I'm pretty sure Recompose Area came up last year. I love the idea dearly, but worry that it wouldn't translate well to a plant name.

And then Fire Box also comes pretty close; certainly there's something fiery about the color of the petals here, but I have some better color matches (fire is usually orange/yellow anyway, right?) remaining.

So what's left? Four foods, a city, and a body part.

Cranberry (also)


Raspberry (also) (also) (also)


Santa Fe


Narrowing things down among these six options was really tough, and took a long time to do. Santa Fe was discarded because Google image search says that the predominant colors of Santa Fe, New Mexico are tan, brown, and beige, not red. Artery is kind of gross. Then, some kind of subconscious magic happened, over the span of a couple days, and I decided that I wanted to go with rhubarb, but not just the word "Rhubarb:" it needed something else.

Rhyming dictionaries turned up nothing useful ("Rhubarb Garb?"). A pun generator I've used before didn't know what to do with "rhubarb," though it did suggest an option I sort of liked (Rhubarbarian). Finally, a song-lyrics site search also got me to a recipe I kind of liked. (The lyric is "rhubarb berry fool," but search engines tell me that the dish is usually called "berry rhubarb fool."3) Which not only gets the rhubarb, but has raspberry and cranberry sort of covered besides.

So: Rhubarbarian, or Berry Rhubarb Fool?

Rhubarbarian: one word long; shorter to type. I imagine there are people who would be turned off by "fool." Potentially trademarked.4

Berry Rhubarb Fool pros: the color seems more edible than barbaric. Sort of like naming the seedling for a berry and rhubarb simultaneously. I imagine there are people who would be turned off by "barbarian." Unlikely to be trademarked.

In the end, although I would like something shorter, because I expect to be typing it a lot, Berry Rhubarb Fool is probably the better name. So there it is. Fingers crossed that the next one is easier to christen, because this took a lot more time and thought than it should have.


1 There's also something about the sound of the word "rambutan" itself that doesn't quite fit this flower. In the same way that "Alberta" did fit 054B despite not making any objective sense, "Rambutan" doesn't seem quite right for 105A even though I can't think of a good reason against it.
2 Though the aroid naming guidelines I found said not to name plants "simple descriptive words like 'Red', 'Giant White' or 'Small'." "Peach" is probably too general and simple to work, then, if this is an official rule. Names are complicated.
3 The actual song is titled "Everything I Saw," and belongs to The Weather Station. It's on SoundCloud, of course: link. I like it okay, though it helps that I read the lyrics first (the enunciation is patchy). Banjophobes should steer clear.
4 I know. I wouldn't have thought so either, but when I did a search for the word, and . . . it's out there a lot already.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum concolor

Aww. It's like a dalmatian puppy that was magically transformed into a Paphiopedilum. Adorable.

Paphiopedilum concolor is native to Southeast Asia (China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), and naturally flowers in spring and autumn. Wikipedia claims it was first described in 1984, but The Plant List says 1888. (GRIN almost agrees, saying 1889.) So: off by 96 years, give or take. And Wikipedia was wrong about the parasitic orchid thing, too. Remember this the next time I quote Wikipedia about something.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 091

I'm beginning to feel sorry that I ever complained about how slowly the Schlumbergeras were blooming. They've certainly picked up speed since. As I write this (18 November), blog posts are already planned out through Boxing Day, and twelve of those posts are for new Schlumbergera seedlings.1 I mean, I guess I'm happy to be seeing new blooms and everything, and I do have time to write the posts: it's not really a crisis. But keeping track of where all the posts are, and how close they are to being finished, is sort of overwhelming.

091A is okay. Hard to be too impressed with it, at this point -- it takes a lot more for a seedling to stand out now -- but there doesn't seem to be anything especially wrong with it, either. Sometimes the right name can make a big difference, though; maybe 091A will be lucky. Let's find out.

TinEye gave me 28 possible names this time, which reduced down to 9 actual candidates. In the order they were eliminated:

All Bath Toy has going for it is that there are almost certainly bath toys for children with these colors. I don't like it otherwise, and the name wouldn't have made the short list except for the fact that most of the long-list options were even less appealing.

Pepperland would make a lot more sense for a red flower. I mean, I'm aware of orange peppers, and even occasionally pink peppers, but they're not what I think of when I think "pepper." Also, I think almost any word would pair more interestingly with "pepper" than "land" does.

They're cool animals, and not thought about nearly often enough, but I reject Hummingbird Moth on the grounds that I got another animal option from TinEye that does a better job of imitating Schlumbergera blooms' shape. Perhaps some other seedling, some other day.

The colors are plausibly circus / carnival / fair sorts of colors, so Funhouse could maybe be appropriate, but I . . . kind of hate funhouses?

There's nothing dramatically wrong with Dream Haze as a name, but I can't come up with anything especially positive to say about it either.

At this point, I suddenly realize that I've decided on a name without being consciously aware of doing so. For the sake of completeness, the other options were Rumble Strip (also, also), the name for the sections of road that make low-pitched buzzing-type noises when you drive across them. Naming a seedling after them might have been a useful way for me to remember what they're called, but I wasn't really feeling a connection between the name and seedling. Genesis is not obviously wrong, and abstract enough to be able to fit anything, but I wasn't thrilled with the connections to the Bible and the rock band, not to mention the thousands of other things named "Genesis." And the seedling hasn't generated much of anything so far, either, as far as that goes. Finally, Young Hollywood (also), which I can kind of see a connection between the bloom color and all the neon signs of my imaginary Hollywood, but I feel like young people, Hollywood, and young people in Hollywood all get plenty of attention already and don't need a seedling too.

Which leaves our winner: Flying Fish. The color is not related at all (the photo is of a meal from a restaurant called "Flying Fish;"2 actual flying fish are silver), but do an image search for "flying fish" sometime and tell me you don't think their shape is evocative of Schlumbergera blooms.


1 Also one Anthurium, and seven orchids. I even have plans for three posts about plants that are none of the above.
2 I still don't understand the impulse to photograph one's meals, for the record.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 034

034A isn't groundbreaking -- there have been plenty of orange/pinks so far,1 and while it's pleasant, I wouldn't say it does the orange/pink thing significantly better than they do. So let's jump to the naming.

Only 23 initial candidates from TinEye (and here is a link to the color search results, if you're curious), only five of which seemed plausible final names.

Two of the five held some appeal but were pretty easy to eliminate: Lobster Roll seemed like a good, off-the-wall color match, but did nothing for me otherwise. Engelchen, which Google Translate translates from German as "little angel," is cloying and awful to me in English, but in German it's at least worth considering. I mean, I ultimately decided I didn't like it that well in German either, but I did have to stop and think about it for a while first.

So then it was a battle between Soft Light, For Kissing, and Wahine.

For Kissing seems like a problem because the most direct read of it suggests that the plant, or flower, is what should be kissed. Not really the intention. I was thinking of it more as "this is the plant one places in a room when kissing is being planned." Probably the abbreviated version of that doesn't make for a very clear name. So . . . no?

Soft Light would maybe work better for a lighter-colored bloom; I feel like these colors may be too saturated and dark to count as "soft."

Which leaves Wahine.2 It means "Polynesian woman;"3 online dictionaries also list "young woman surfer," though that seems to be less widespread. I was wary of Wahine largely because I was taught, in grade school, that "squaw" was a neutral term for Native American women, then learned later that that's pretty hotly disputed. I couldn't find anything on-line suggesting that anyone had a problem with wahine, though, and the husband4 said he thought it had a positive connotation, if anything. So we'll go with Wahine for 034A, unless new information comes in to make me change my mind.


1 (012 "Sofa Fort," 21B "Birthday Dinner," 028B "Neon Like," 030A "Diwali," 035A "Patito," 060A "Wet Dog," 073A "Laurie Anderson," 088A "Cyborg Unicorn," 099A "Dessert Room," 113A "Helper Dog")
2 Pronounced either wah-HEE-nay or wah-HEE-nee. I favor "nay," personally, though I feel like I've heard "nee" more often.
3 Well, it's the Māori and Hawaiian word for "woman." Depending on the context, it may or may not specify a Polynesian woman.
4 (who lived in Hawaii for several years)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Random plant events: the stapeliads

Stapeliads1 are just the best plants. Or, well, they fall just short of being the best plants, because they're difficult to grow from seed, and they're even more difficult to hybridize. But they're so weird, and so easy to grow, and, well, I was prepared to say "beautiful" but how about I just say "weird" again -- that you are almost certainly not growing as many of them as you should be.

I have five, at the moment, four of which have bloomed this fall. That's less impressive than it sounds, because Huernia schneideriana basically never stops blooming, and H. oculata only stops briefly, every few months, presumably to catch its breath. Here's H. schneideriana:

And H. oculata:

In previous years, I've seen blooms on Stapelia gigantea between September and December, but not this year. They look like this, when they happen, and are as stinky as they are enormous:

The two biggest surprises this year were Huernia zebrina and Stapelia variegata. Both have bloomed pretty prolifically for me when I've had them outside for the summer, but I never thought they could get enough light in the house to bloom spontaneously. I mean, I only got one bloom apiece, but still.

Huernia zebrina lives in a semi-obstructed west window:

And Stapelia variegata lives in a pretty wide-open east window:

Normally, stapeliad blooms have five-fold symmetry; I don't know what led the plant to produce a bloom with only four of everything.

I had a clue that the Stapelia variegata was blooming, but didn't realize it was a clue until too late: Sheba had started doing a lot of pointed sniffing in that part of the living room, which I'd noticed but not given a lot of thought to: it's not that unusual for her to sniff intensely around something for no obvious reason. I found the bloom when I went to water the plants in the living room. A single S. variegata bloom like this isn't particularly unpleasant, but when we had three flowers at once, over the kitchen sink, I was asked, kindly but firmly, to put the plant somewhere else.

All five stapeliads are pretty easy to grow. H. schneideriana is one of the easiest plants I have; H. oculata hasn't been here as long as the others, but has been easy so far. I have trouble getting enough light to S. variegata, which results in weak, etiolated new growth, which is sort of a problem. S. gigantea complains about being overwatered occasionally. H. zebrina is the problem child of the group, if any: the joints where new branches emerge tend to be weak, and are easily pulled apart. Often this happens without the stem noticeably changing position or location, so I usually don't notice that anything has happened until a stem starts turning yellow. Though this also makes it one of the easier ones to propagate, as I don't even need to intend to take a cutting a lot of the time: cuttings just happen.


1 The most commonly grown stapeliads are from the genera Stapelia, Huernia, and Orbea, and a few others are cultivated occasionally, or by specialists, like Caralluma, Edithcolea (which has amazing flowers), Whitesloanea, and Hoodia.
(This Hoodia is the same Hoodia as the hot new all-natural weight loss herbal supplement cactus hoodia you probably heard about a few years ago, when it was briefly a thing. We have since realized that no, Hoodia isn't a magical effortless the-pounds-just-melt-right-off pill either. But surely the next one will be. Or maybe the one after that. Or.)
The Stapeliae are a "tribe" within the subfamily Asclepiadoideae, in the family Apocynaceae. This makes them sort of close relatives to Ceropegia, Dischidia, and Hoya, and somewhat more distant relations to Nerium, Plumeria, Stephanotis, and Allamanda.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pretty picture: Oncostele Wildcat

I'm curious about what was going on at this year's orchid show that led to the selection of a brown backdrop for the orchids. It wasn't as rough on the photography as the blue background from the 2013 show, but I'm so used to adjusting the color for a black background that I had a lot of trouble getting the color right here. And I'm pretty sure I failed regardless, though it's possible that the photo wouldn't have been any better on a black background: I can't remember how far away I was or what the lighting was like.

This plant has appeared here previously as Colmanara Wildcat ('Cheetah,' 2012; 'Bobcat,' ex-job). Whatever we call it, it is still what it is.

Oncostele Wildcat = Oncostele Rustic Bridge x Oncidium Crowborough (1965) (Ref.)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Random plant event: Polyscias fruticosa

Nothing huge going on with the Polyscias seedlings exactly, but I thought learning a little bit more about how Polyscias works was maybe worth a post.

As of 10 November, 13 seeds have germinated (out of 53 sown). The first has already begun to produce true leaves, though they're not easy to see in this photo:

Maybe three or four others have visible cotyledons ("seed leaves"). There's still a ways to go before I can officially say that I've grown Polyscias fruticosa from seed -- the next hurdle will be transplanting to soil -- but I never anticipated getting this far with it, so even if no plants actually result, I think this is technically still a success.

For various reasons, it might be better if the seedlings fail to transplant. I was in the husband's office a few days ago, telling him that I had had nine Polyscias seeds germinate already, and he was all, cool, that's neat about it. And then as I was saying something else, can't remember what, I saw his eyes drift over to the parent Polyscias -- by now approximately 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide (2 m x 0.7 m) -- and he interrupted me. "You said nine? There are nine?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 054 (again)

Seedling 054A is "Helpful Gesture," one of the first seedlings to bloom, and one I really like. I'd figured that was all I was getting from pot 054, but it surprised me: a few orange buds started showing up in the pot ("Helpful Gesture" buds are magenta1), and it eventually became apparent that I would have a second seedling to name.

054B's color is along the same lines as 022A "Sad Tomato," a red-orange with a white tube. When compared side-by-side, 054B is a bit lighter and redder than "Sad Tomato," though it's subtle.

For this seedling, TinEye gave me 34 possible names, which I narrowed down to 10. Before I get to the name-selection, I want to take a moment to spotlight Butterfly Yoga Fertility. It's not under consideration as a possible name, but it's certainly the most extreme example of whatever it is that I've seen in a very long time.

In alphabetical order, the ten contenders:

Alberta (also)
Blood Orange
Cloud Six
Danger Shield
Fourth Amendment
Napkin Witch
Red Grapefruit (also)

So. A quick citrus-based image search reveals that this bloom is much closer in color to Red Grapefruit than to Blood Orange. So Blood Orange is out. (Though how cool would a blood-orange-colored Schlumbergera bloom be?)

Danger Shield appealed less and less the more time I spent thinking about it, so that was easy to eliminate from the list as well.

I reluctantly took a pass on Napkin Witch because, although it's certainly memorable and colorful, and I'm intrigued by the possible meanings (a witch who specializes in the manipulation of napkins and napkin-related paraphernalia? a sentient, two-dimensional witch who lives within the confines of a napkin?), the whole witch thing is just too fraught. There's no way I use that name without it eventually causing a problem.2

The Fourth Amendment3 is one of our better amendments, and certainly worth honoring, but involving politics at all is probably not a good idea either. Also I'm a little worried that in twenty years the name would read more like (In Loving Memory of the) Fourth Amendment, though I suppose that's not a reason to reject it as a possible name.

Onward has a nice optimistic, determined kind of sound to it, without being overly precious or cloying, but it's a little abstract. And it's not like "onward" is even always a good thing: sometimes you'd prefer not to move on but you don't actually get a choice. So I can lose this one too.

And Wildfire, though very color-appropriate, seems like the sort of name that's probably already been done by somebody.

After pondering Cloud Six for a while, I suspect I would find it annoying later down the road. Don't know why.

Which leaves Alberta, Red Grapefruit, and Boomerang.

Boomerang is a fine word, and concept, and more things should be named after boomerangs, but I'm discarding it because I can't come up with a reason why it fits, like I can with the other two. Like, maybe it'd be a good name for some Schlumbergera seedling sometime, but it doesn't feel right for this particular Schlumbergera seedling.

Red Grapefruit, on the other hand, fits in a totally obvious and straightforward way: the flower is exactly the same color as most of the pictures of red grapefruit that come up when you do an image search. It's basically perfect.

Then there's Alberta, which doesn't make any more sense than Boomerang did; however, I have some weird synesthetic thing happening where this bloom and the word "Alberta" are both the same color. Except I'm not actually synesthetic.

Also I've never been to Alberta, and don't personally know anyone from Alberta, and have no real connection to Alberta whatsoever, at least until k. d. lang and I become close personal friends like I assume is going to happen one of these days.4

Given the choice between a relatively straightforward description of a color, and a name that could only make sense to me (not that it does, but I'm the only person it could conceivably make sense to), I'm inclined to go with the latter. So Alberta it is.


1 All the seedlings' buds start out either pale peach or magenta. Peach buds always turn orange; magenta buds usually turn orange but are occasionally red.
2 Maybe it's an Iowa thing, I don't know, but I worked with one woman, who, upon hearing of my plans to move to the Iowa City area, expressed concern, and said she would never live there "because of all the witches," as if everybody already knew that the city was full of, I don't know, stillborn livestock and withered crops or something.
And then at a later job, I was asked, in total seriousness, whether I "believed in Harry Potter." (I have not read any of the Harry Potter series.) I was so thrown by the question that I think I managed to stammer out something like, well there's not, uh. Anything to believe in, really? I mean they're, like, books? For children? and he let the subject drop. And I don't think we ever tried to have any kind of non-work conversation ever again, though I might be misremembering that part.
3 "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
4 (I would also accept Nathan Fillion or Tricia Helfer. Possibly in a pinch Joni Mitchell, but for some reason I feel like she probably wouldn't like me, which ruins the fantasy.)