Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

A couple weeks ago, Sheba made her longest car trip ever, to Cedar Rapids and back (about an hour each way, plus multiple stops within Cedar Rapids). She was pretty tired out by the end of it, and I think would have liked to nap all the way home but couldn't because of the noise, light, and bouncing, but still. She didn't throw up, which is excellent news, and even if she was worn out by the end of the trip, she was pretty excited during the beginning. I think she had a good time.

Also she's a dog, and has to do dog things.

In other Sheba-related news, she had her first vet appointment last Monday, which, happily, turned up nothing of consequence. She weighs almost exactly 50 pounds (23 kg), she's now re-vaccinated against bordetella ("kennel cough"), and she has heartworm preventative medication to take, which in retrospect we probably should have gotten that for her earlier and I feel like a bad dog father. But all indications are that she's fine anyway. Also she growled at the vet once, but in fairness to Sheba, he was sticking a plastic tube into her ear at the time for reasons she couldn't have understood. I would have growled too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pretty picture: Rudbekia hirta

This is possibly a little late; I took these pictures in mid-July, but didn't post them because everybody else already seemed to have the Rudbeckia-photo thing covered. What's actually blooming now is mostly Helianthus and Solidago, which I haven't been taking pictures of this summer because of not having air conditioning in the car anymore. But I figure they're all gold-colored flowers, so if seeing them a couple weeks late is going to be problematic for you, just back away from your computer monitor and squint until they could plausibly be something else.

I really like this picture full-sized.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Random plant event: Glycine max pods

In the continuing story of our backyard soybean field (check out the earlier post to see the flowers), we now have the beginnings of the soybean pods. This part, at least, was a little bit familiar to me, since I've seen the mature pods before, and these are pretty similar.

Not the most shining examples of nature's beauty. I mean, it's no sun-setting-over-a-wildflower-ringed-serene-lake-while-a-V-of-geese-fly-south-for-the-winter-overhead.

But, you know, they're soybeans. Only so much I can do. Maybe they get prettier as the season progresses. I doubt it, of course. But maybe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Site-related: Comment moderation

Due to a much larger-than-normal influx of spam commenters that appeared about a week ago, I turned on comment moderation for all comments earlier today. Previously, moderation had been on only for posts more than a week old.

The only effect this should have on your life is that it will take longer for your comments to show up here at PATSP, because they'll have to wait until I read them and decide whether they're blog- and post-relevant, which I think we can all agree isn't that big of a deal in the overall scheme of things.

Pretty pictures: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Not a lot of botanical, or even horticultural, content today, but the pictures are big and purty and well-suited for desktop backgrounds. Or even if you don't want a new desktop background, there's still quite a bit more detail to be seen in the full-size picture.

I don't have cultivar IDs for any of the five; they were probably tagged, but with bloomers like these, I often forget to check, for some reason.

My favorite is the pink calandiva (fourth from top).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Question for the Hive Mind: Variegated Morning Glory?

I saw this growing at the ex-job, out on the nursery lot. It wasn't for sale, because it wasn't in a pot, and it didn't look like it had been deliberately planted, but it's also very odd and passably-ornamental looking, so I suppose it could have been an escapee. I don't recall us ever selling potted morning glories (moonflowers, yes, but not morning glories), though, nor did we ever offer sweet potato vines with this sort of variegation. So . . . what is it?

It was late afternoon when I took these pictures. The plant was in a location that likely gets only afternoon sun, and not very much of it: there are some fairly dense trees growing overhead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pretty picture: Masdevallia ignea x constricta

The actual petals and other important parts of Masdevallias are stuck way down in the center of the plant, and are tiny. The sepals, which have become fused together, are the brightly-colored bits with the long "tails."

I think most of the Masdevallias I've seen are less pretty than just odd. I like odd, usually, so that's not really a problem. And the first one I posted about, Masdevallia Prince Charming, I actually think is kind of pretty, too. Everything breaks down with M. ignea x constricta, though, as my brain insists that it's creepy and off-putting. The odd shape, combined with the large numbers of flowers in these pictures, somehow add up to "alien invasion" in my head.

Also the color, let's face it, is not the most appealing.

Maybe if they were edible, and tasted like cheese, it would work for me.

Though I'm not a big fan of cheese either, actually, so maybe not. I don't know.

Masdevallia is another genus I will probably never grow, though I have more hope for Masdevallia than for Miltoniopsis; Masdevallia might be okay in our basement. It's humid and cool, and there are fluorescent lights all over the place, so if I managed to water often enough, I might be able to keep a Masdevallia happy. Not, like, an alien cheese invader Masdevallia, but with some other, more pleasingly-colored hybrid.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

List: Houseplants Native to Southern Africa

Houseplants tend to be from the same few places over and over again: Southeast Asia is popular, as are Central America and Brazil. But one of the richest sources of houseplants, particularly succulent houseplants, is the southernmost segment of Africa. South Africa lucks out because it has the Karoo, a very dry inland section of the southern end of the continent. The westernmost section of the Karoo (which is actually called the Succulent Karoo) is very dry, hot, and windy, and the plants living there have gone to fairly extreme lengths to survive, dispensing with stems entirely (Lithops spp.), or living buried in the soil with only the translucent leaf "windows" exposed to the sun (Lithops again, but also some Haworthias, Senecios, and Peperomias).

Most of us don't actually keep the inside of our homes broiling hot and windy, but the low humidity and sometimes-neglectful watering of some homes are compatible with these plants' needs as long as enough light is provided. Other South African houseplant species come from the moister areas to the south and east of the Succulent Karoo, but these also tend to be more tolerant of dry soil and air than your average tropical rainforest plant. (There are less drought-tolerant exceptions, like Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus.)

Map of the southern tip of Africa. The Karoo, Succulent and non-, is outlined in yellow; the Succulent Karoo is to the west of the green line. Image is public domain, from Wikipedia.

It's difficult to come up with a comprehensive list of houseplants from this region, because it's impossible to be precise about "houseplant" and "this region." Some of the plants on the list are only found in a single fairly tiny location, say around a specific town. Others have ranges stretching up through East and Central Africa, or even east to Madagascar and around the Indian Ocean. But these, at least, can naturally be found at some spot or another within the southernish part of Africa, wherever else they might or might not exist.

Aloe harlana.

Asparagus plumosus.

Chlorophytum comosum.

Euphorbia flanaganii.

Euphorbia pseudocactus.

Gasteria NOID. Gasterias in general, though.

Saintpaulia ionantha cv.

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii Pearl Young.'

Senecio rowleyanus.

Strelitzia nicolai.

For the recommends, I'll go with Aloe harlana, Strelitzia nicolai, and Euphorbia pseudocactus. All three are pretty easy-going most of the time -- I've literally never had a problem with my Aloe harlana, and only the most minor problems with Euphorbia pseudocactus, which were entirely my fault anyway. Strelitzia nicolai and I have had our ups and downs, but I'm still fond of it, so much so that I'm apparently willing to delude myself into thinking it's an entirely different plant so I can justify purchasing it over and over.

For the anti-recommend, I don't know. I've had minor problems with all seven of the remaining plants from the list, ranging from generalized failure to thrive (Chlorophytum, Senecio) to various speeds and flavors of decline and rot (Gasteria, Sansevieria, Saintpaulia), to extreme demands for light and the heartbreak of etiolation that causes (Euphorbia), to underwatering followed by hardcore needle drop (Asparagus).

I think Sansevieria is the one I'm least likely to buy in the future, as the Sansevieria problems have been a lot more permanent, and seem to happen to every specimen I buy sooner or later. Most people will think this is ridiculous, because everybody but me finds Sansevierias easy to grow. But that's the one I want for the anti-recommend anyway.


Not pictured:

Adromischus cristatus
Albuca bracteata
Aloe aristata
Aloe brevifolia
Aloe ciliaris
Aloe ferox
Aloe greatheadii
Aloe maculata
Aloe polyphylla
Aloe striata
Aloe variegata
Anacampseros rufescens
Argyroderma delaetii
Asparagus densiflorus
Bowiea volubilis
Ceropegia woodii
Cissus quadrangularis
Clivia miniata
Cotyledon orbiculata
Crassula arborescens
Crassula coccinea
Crassula muscosa
Crassula ovata
Crassula rupestris
Crassula tetragona
Didymochlaena truncatula
Ensete ventricosum
Euphorbia anoplia
Euphorbia caput-medusae
Euphorbia cooperi
Euphorbia enopla
Euphorbia grandicornis
Euphorbia horrida
Euphorbia ingens
Euphorbia obesa
Euphorbia susannae
Euphorbia tirucalli
Faucaria tigrina
Fenestraria rhopalophylla
Gerbera jamesonii
Gloriosa superba
Hoodia gordonii
Kalanchoe beharensis
Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri
Kalanchoe luciae
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
Kalanchoe tomentosa
Ledebouria socialis
Ornithogalum spp. (aka Albuca)
Pachypodium geayi, lamerei, other Pachypodium spp.
Pelargonium spp. (some)
Plectranthus amboinicus
Plectranthus ciliatus
Plectranthus oertendahlii
Pteris cretica
Rhipsalis baccifera
Sansevieria cylindrica
Selaginella kraussiana
Senecio macroglossus
Senecio radicans
Stapelia flavopurpurea
Stapelia gigantea
spp. (most spp.)
Strelitzia reginae
Zamioculcas zamiifolia