Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Shebarfs maintained her every-four-days barf quota on Wednesday. No carsickness, no excitement, nothing unusual food-wise, just suddenly, a pile of barf appeared on the floor. We're contemplating further dietary changes. Maybe she's allergic to something in the dry food. Maybe I'm feeding her at a bad time of day. Maybe I'm feeding too much. There has to be something I can change. This can't be normal. Please tell me this isn't normal.

Aside from that, and an unfortunate roll in poop that was over before I realized it was happening (and a subsequent bath -- which, by the way, the plant-watering station makes a very nice dog-bathing station too), things are good.

Giving Nina the Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture (or SMSAONP) this week, just because she's been feeling neglected lately. I particularly like this one full-size.

Remember me, Mister Bond?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pretty picture: NOID cactus with a big white flower

I spent yesterday repotting. Like, the entire day. A lot of that time was spent just trying to come up with a list of what needed to be repotted in the first place, or what stuff might need to be repotted but would have to be checked first, or what stuff didn't need to be repotted so much as just divided and as long as I was dividing stuff anyway maybe I should take some cuttings of this thing next to it, and so on and so forth. The actual repotting of things only took maybe a couple hours, and when it was all over, I had 21 new plants (divisions and cuttings of things) and about as many old plants in larger pots. Which is great.

Unfortunately, my to-do list was about 150 items long yesterday (truth!), and this barely made a dent. So I am sad.

Anyway. This cactus was sitting around blooming last Friday when I was at the ex-job. I don't know anything about it beyond what you can see from the photos, but the flower is definitely interesting. Not that cactus flowers usually aren't.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random plant event: Equisetum strobilus

Saw this out on a walk with Sheba, and took a picture because it was weird. My first thought was that it was some sort of mushroom, but something about the little node (almost at the bottom of the photo), which I've never seen on a mushroom before, made me keep looking.

Long story short, it's a horsetail (Equisetum) of some kind; this is the strobilus, a structure which, if Wikipedia is correct and I'm reading it correctly, produces spores. That's about as far as I can get into it before the vocabulary starts being a problem. (I'm writing this in kind of a hurry; I'd try to untangle the vocabulary if I had more time.) Strobili are commonly called "cones," but now that I've told you that, try to forget it, because that's a botanically incorrect term. (Botanists try to save the word "cones" for conifers, though, confusingly, the cones of conifers are called strobili. All cones are strobili, but not every strobilus is a cone. Or something like that.)

Equisetum is the last surviving genus in the class Equisetopsida, which dates back to the Devonian, the era in which Devo's first albums were recorded. (Actually the Devonian goes from 416 to 359.2 million years ago, and rocks of this time period were first studied in Devon, England. Hence the name.) You may have met some ancient Equisetopsida specimens as coal; they used to be the dominant type of understory plant in forests and swamps. Species of Equisetum are currently found everywhere on Earth except Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and the smallish islands to the north and east of them, but not as far northwest as Indonesia) and Antarctica.

This particular plant is most likely (but by no means certainly) Equisetum arvense, field horsetail, which is distinguished by, among other things, having a truly absurd number of chromosomes (108 pairs). I hear this is a record.

Among the other trivia bits about horsetails in general, and the field horsetail specifically:

The stems are coated with abrasive silica particles, which in the past has made them useful for cleaning metal. (Possibly Equisetum arvense should go on the zombie apocalypse list; dunno whether they can be grown as houseplants, though.)

They're also pesticide-resistant, and can concentrate gold from the soil. Not economically useful amounts of gold, but still.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

[Exceptionally] Pretty pictures: transmitted light -- Part XXVI

I just started a new round of plant-watering on Monday, so I'm having some trouble keeping up with the blog, but times like this are why I save up these pictures. This particular round is about evenly split: half of them are, I think, pretty good, and the other half were kind of disappointing. But a couple of the good ones are really really good. So.

(The previous transmitted light posts can be found here.)

Cissus rotundifolia. Okay, so it's not that interesting, but it's a thick leaf. Only so much I can do.

Euphorbia milii NOID. The leaves on these are so small that I'm actually kind of surprised I managed to get this much detail.

Anthurium crystallinum 'Mehani.' This seemed to work out pretty nicely. It's at least sort of a dramatic image. Incidentally, my 'Mehani' is blooming again. The flowers are still not pretty, though.

Cyanotis kewensis. Meh. Though you can see the family resemblance to Tradescantia pallida. Or at least I can.

Haworthia sp., tagged as H. comptoniana but might be H. tesselata or some other Haworthia species. The plant had to be tossed, unfortunately, due to mealybugs. I'm hoping to have the chance to try again.

Pellionia pulchra. Still haven't quite nailed this one: the leaves are both small and thick, so it's going to be a challenge to get right. Someday, though.

Cryptanthus 'Elaine.' This isn't what I was expecting it to look like; I thought the banding (vertical in this picture) would show up more prominently. Instead it's kind of a muddy mess. Oh well.

Cordyline fruticosa 'Kiwi.' Cordyline fruticosa can pretty much always be relied on for a nice transmitted light picture.

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Splish Splash.' I'm extremely proud of this.

Dieffenbachia 'Tropic Rain.' I think this went pretty well too, though it lacks the drama of the 'Splish Splash.'

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Random plant event: the Very Lonely Narcissus

While out walking Sheba maybe a week ago, I happened on this:

Don't see it? Maybe if I tighten in a little:

Well, it's there. The resolution on the picture is only just so good:

I assume there used to be more of them at one time, and that the others were dug up, or died, or something. Still. Struck me as amusing. Incongruous, even. It's especially impressive since it must either get mowed over constantly during the year, or else crowded out by weeds. Seems like a rough way of making a living.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pretty picture: Rhyncholaelia digbyana

This plant used to be Brassavola digbyana, but I have it on fairly good authority that Rhyncholaelia is correct. If nothing else, whoever wrote the tag for the orchid show (this is another one from the show at Wallace's Garden Center a couple weeks ago) thinks that it's Rhyncholaelia.

I found a lot more about this particular orchid than usual, mainly because of this page, which is just chock full of interesting information.

Among the fun facts to know and share are:

It's the national flower of Honduras. Which is kind of astounding, considering the choices available to Honduras. I mean, you'd think they would go with something a little more . . . colorful.

It's where the "B" in "Blc." (Brassolaeliocattleya) comes from. I'm glad I learned this, because I'd been thinking that Blc. was Brassia x Laelia x Cattleya, just 'cause that's what I misread the first time and then I didn't bother to read closely thereafter. Obviously with the name change, Brassolaeliocattleya should probably be Rhyncholaeliocattleya now, but I have no idea whether they're going to bother to change that. Probably. The main contribution from R. digbyana to Cattleya alliance orchids is the lip: flowers with super-frilly lips probably have this plant somewhere in their background.

The flowers are said to be lemon-scented. I didn't notice this personally, but Wallace's was so full of scented orchids, and also people (who were also frequently scented), that I gave up on trying to match scents to flowers.

There's more than that, though. Check the link. It's an interesting plant.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Really, Really New Plants, plus bonus pretty picture

After a very long period (a couple weeks?) of neither gaining nor losing any plants, the count ratcheted up a couple times last Thursday and Friday. They're not all incredibly interesting, but a few of them are unusual enough to be noteworthy.

Also I should show you the new Iresine herbstii 'Blazin' Rose' that I got at Wallace's when I went there for the orchid show, just because I think it's cool. Are Iresines supposed to be huge like this, or is this something specific to this variety? 'Cause seriously, some of these leaves are like five inches long, and almost as wide. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that. It's practically a croton.

Iresine herbstii 'Blazin' Rose.' The pot is five inches (13 cm) in diameter.

But better, obviously, on account of not actually being a croton.

Then the batch from last Thursday came from Jake Henny, of the blog Plant Daddy (that's right: the Jake Henny! E-mailed me!), who offered to send an Aglaonema 'Golden Bay,' since I said a few posts back that I didn't have one yet, in passing, while complaining about the disappearance of Dieffenbachia 'Tropic Forest.' I expect to like 'Golden Bay;' other white-stemmed Aglaonemas ('Peacock,' 'Brilliant') have done really well for me, and 'Golden Bay' was well-behaved at work when we had them.

Aglaonema 'Golden Bay.'

That was nice enough on its own, but then as a bonus, he threw in a couple plants of a new variety of Philodendron hederaceum, 'Frilly Philly,' which I had seen on-line a few times but had not yet viewed in person. It didn't look quite like I expected: a lot of the on-line photos were unclear, or had the plant trained vertically, so I couldn't really tell what it was like.

So what's it like?

Philodendron hederaceum 'Frilly Philly.' (Henny uses P. scandens oxycardium as the species name. Tomato, tomahto.)

Well. You wouldn't think it was a P. hederaceum to look at it. The leaves are narrow, and fairly small, not even remotely heart-shaped. When I showed the husband, his comment was that it looked almost like a trailing bamboo or something. Everything about it on-line so far appears to be press releases, so it's very new, but 'Frilly Philly' was developed via irradiation (a mutation technique touched on in the profile for Begonia rex-cultorum, q.v.) of P. hederaceum (see .pdf file) and the mutation is apparently stable. It's also supposed to branch a lot more freely than other varieties of the same species. Do I like it? I'll let you know. For right now, I'm mostly just surprised at how different it is, both from the parent plant and from my expectations.

Then on Friday, I was going a little crazy from not getting out of the house since the trip to Wallace's, so we went to Iowa City and I stopped at my former workplace. I had every intention of not buying anything; I was just going to take pictures to use on the blog, talk to whomever was around, and then go, but you know how these things work.

So I got a replacement Crassula muscosa (I'd had one a while ago, but I pitched it when it got mealybugs) --

Crassula muscosa. Sometimes also Crassula lycopodioides. I'm not sure whether lycopodioides is an obsolete synonym or a different species entirely.

-- and an Agave victoriae-reginae. I had one of these already, but this one -- which has been at the store for years, by the way; I was the one who divided it off its parent and potted it up originally -- looks like it's offset seven or eight more rosettes, which in theory could be divided. Even if I lose half and only get four plants out of it in the end, that's still a pretty good deal, for a plant that's not found that often around here.

Agave victoriae-reginae. The pot is three inches wide diagonally. I haven't tried to count up how many offsets there are here, but it's a lot. Some are just very very tiny.

Also I bought a plant that was labeled only "Haworthia hybrid."

"Haworthia hybrid."

I suspect it is actually an intergeneric Aloe x Haworthia ("Alworthia") or Gasteria x Haworthia ("Gasterworthia") cross, rather than a hybrid of two Haworthia species, mostly based on the flowers.

The flowers on the "Haworthia hybrid." It was, obviously, already in bloom when I bought it.

All the Haworthia flowers I can recall seeing are small white five-petaled things with a greenish stripe down the center of each petal; all the Gasteria flowers I can think of are pinkish-orange tubular things with a slightly bigger base (the botanical name comes from the Greek gaster, meaning "stomach," and refers to the shape of the flowers). The flowers on this seem like a pretty straightforward compromise between the two things, being tubular five-petaled flowers with a pinkish-orange, slightly bigger base, shading to white with greenish stripes, so I suspect Gasterworthia more than Alworthia. But there are Aloes with tubular pinkish-orange flowers that end in green-striped white as well; witness Aloe 'Doran Black:'

Flowers from Aloe 'Doran Black,' or something I think might be Aloe 'Doran Black,' photographed in front of Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' flowers. Secondary colors!

Which means that 'Doran Black' is a cross-generic hybrid too and I've just misidentified it, that Aloe is a really variable genus, that flowers are not sufficient to identify specific genera within the Asphodelaceae family, or some combination of these. So I don't think I'm ever really going to know what this is. But it was a largish Haworthia-oid thing, so I had to have it. Because that is just how I roll.

[UPDATE: There appears to be agreement that this is a Gasterworthia / Gasworthia / Gasterhaworthia, possibly 'Banded Pearls' or 'Royal Highness.' Neither appears to be especially common, so there aren't a lot of photos to investigate in either case, and the photos I did manage to find are fairly variable, suggesting that there's either a lot of misidentification going on out there or that they're highly variable plants. So for now we'll call it Gasterworthia cv.]

[ALSO: Gasworthia, Gasterworthia, and Gasterhaworthia all appear to be used to describe Gasteria-Haworthia crosses. Searching Google for each turns up 245 incidences of Gasworthia, 984 Gasterhaworthias, and 13200 Gasterworthias, so Gasterworthia is the one I'm going to use.]

And speaking of large, and really, really new: Philodendron 'Spicy Dog.'

Philodendron bipinnatifidum (?) 'Spicy Dog.'

This is so new that there's basically nothing about it on the internet (I found exactly two mentions on the whole internet, neither one of which contained any useful information beyond confirming that the plant exists), so I have no idea what kind of ride I'm in for, whether it's available under a different name, whether it's a hybrid or a variety of Philodendron bipinnatifidum, or basically anything else. All I know at this point is that the pot had a sticker on it identifying it as P. bipinnatifidum, it looks like the P. 'Xanadu' that ate Cleveland (the longest leaf is 14 inches / 36 cm), the petioles are spotted, and the name makes no sense whatsoever -- there's nothing spicy or canine about it as far as I can tell. (I checked with Sheba, in her capacity as resident canine expert, and she concurs.) It looks like injury to the leaves and the consequent leaking of sap leads to a mold problem sooner or later; the undersides of some of the leaves had the sooty black mold on them that I've seen on other plants. But it came off.

I don't, of course, have room for it, but it's getting warm enough to be thinking about keeping some of the plants outside, so maybe some of them will move out, leaving room for new indoor residents. We can hope.