Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Last week's problem, Sheba's half-hearted snapping at me immediately after dinner, hasn't been resolved yet, because I haven't been able to get her to do it again. I mean, not that I was trying particularly hard either, 'cause I'd really rather she not bite me, but still. Is it still a problem if it's no longer happening? Well, maybe. Who knows if she'll start back up again later. But the moment appears to have passed, all the same.

The photo above was taken just after Sheba's bath on Tuesday. She doesn't like baths, and will run if she suspects one's going to happen, but she behaves pretty well once she's in the tub. The husband and I double-teamed her this time: he soaps, I wet and rinse, and then we both dry. Sheba seems to enjoy the drying part, though I realize that's not obvious from the above photo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Random plant event: Columnea 'Light Prince'

I got this last May, from a reader, as unrooted (I think?) cuttings. One cutting didn't make it, but the others rooted fine, and then at the beginning of January, I noticed a couple flower buds forming.

It's not a cascade of hundreds of flowers or anything, but I wasn't actually anticipating any flowers this soon. So it's still a pretty cool thing. And the flowers are pretty interesting individually anyway.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Et tu, Kew?

Are the "Zantedeschias" featured in this post at Talking Plants actually dyed Anthuriums? [Yes. The post has since been corrected to Anthurium. -Mr. S.] And shouldn't the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens know the difference? And why is Kew dyeing/painting plants in the first place? And why am I weeping, piteously, on the floor like a newborn baby?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Plant-Related Drag Queen Names

In honor of the beginning of the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race (viewable on-line at the website1), and because after watching the first episode I had trouble getting to sleep because I kept thinking of drag names, here's a list of horticultural drag names. It's possible (likely?) that some of these have already been used by someone, somewhere, since drag's been around a long time. Any duplication of existing drag names is unintentional.

Any budding (pun is intended, but I'm very sorry about it) drag queens who fancy one of these is free to take it, with my blessing, though I'm afraid none are up to the cleverness of Season 4's "Sharon Needles," or even season 3's "Mimi Imfurst."

Because I fear some of these may be a bit too contrived to be easily decipherable, I've added explanations: after every group is a footnote which explains what I was aiming for with those names.

Flora-Lorraine Gement
Myrtle O'Cactus
Tara Rarium
Callie Brachoa2

Coco Snucifera
Connie Vallaria
Jane Link-Fence
Steph N. Otis3

Pam Danus
Laura Nobilis
Clara Dendrum4

Pearl Lite (or Pearl A'ight)
Rosemary Topiary
Rosa Bus[c]h (and/or Rosa Thorne)
Polly Podium5

Mandy Villa
Carrie Ota
Iris Germanica
Kris Anthemum6

Cathy Ranthus
Patty O'Torch
Gayle Ardia (possibly also Gayle Zania)
Sue Doripsalis7

Stevie Arebaudiana
Anne Thurium
Dionne A. Emuscipula8

Diane Thus
Mama Ilaria
Lana Scaping
Privet Benjamin9

I have no plans to start doing drag myself, but if I were going to, I think I like Coco Snucifera best. Nobody would ever get it, and people would stumble over the pronunication, but that's okay: it'd provide ample opportunities to make coconut jokes, and I'm pretty sure coconut jokes are universally beloved. Plus I think the letter combination "S-N-U" is inherently humorous.


1 (At least in the U.S.; I wouldn't be surprised if people outside of the U.S. were unable to watch it, because that seems to happen a lot.)
2Flora Lorraine Gement --> floral arrangement
Myrtle O'Cactus --> Myrtillocactus, a genus of cacti
Tara Rarium --> terrarium
Callie Brachoa --> Calibrachoa, a genus of plants related to petunias
3 Coco Snucifera --> Cocos nucifera, the botanical name for the coconut palm
Connie Vallaria --> Convallaria, the genus of lily of the valley (C. majalis)
Jane Link-Fence --> chain-link fence
Steph N. Otis --> Stephanotis, a genus of tropical plants which includes Madagascar jasmine (S. floribunda)
4 Pam Danus --> Pandanus, a genus of plants commonly referred to as "screw pines"
Laura Nobilis --> Laurus nobilis, the botanical name for the bay tree
Clara Dendrum --> Clerodendrum, a genus of mostly-tropical flowering plants which includes C. thomsoniae (glory bower, or bleeding-heart vine)
5 Pearl Lite --> perlite, an expanded volcanic rock often added to potting soil
Rosemary Topiary --> a rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) topiary
Rosa Bus[c]h (and/or Rosa Thorne) --> rosebush, rose thorn
Polly Podium --> Polypodium, a genus of mostly-tropical ferns
6 Mandy Villa --> Mandevilla, a genus of flowers; the tropical vining species and their hybrids are cultivated for their large, white, pink, or red, trumpet-shaped flowers
Carrie Ota --> Caryota, a genus of palms ("fishtail palms")
Iris Germanica --> Iris germanica, a hybrid iris from which most garden irises are derived
Kris Anthemum --> chrysanthemum, the perennial garden plant cultivated for its flowers
7 Cathy Ranthus --> Catharanthus, a genus of flowering plants; C. roseus is widely cultivated for its flowers
Patty O'Torch --> patio torch
Gayle Ardia (possibly also Gayle Zania) --> Gaillardia and Gazania, both cultivated for their showy, daisy-like flowers
Sue Doripsalis --> Pseudorhipsalis, a genus of epiphytic cacti
8 Stevie Arebaudiana --> Stevia rebaudiana, a plant with sweet-tasting leaves which are used by some as a sugar substitute
Anne Thurium --> Anthurium, a genus of tropical plants; some are cultivated for the large, colorful inflorescences
Dionne A. Emuscipula --> Dionaea muscipula, the venus flytrap
9 Diane Thus --> Dianthus, a genus of flowering plants including the carnation
Mama Ilaria --> Mammillaria, a genus of cacti
Lana Scaping --> landscaping
Privet Benjamin --> Private Benjamin, a 1980 film starring Goldie Hawn in which she joins the army, or the TV show based on the film (1981-83), plus the common hedge privet (genus Ligustrum)

Unfinished business: fictional botany

Sadly, I've gotten out of the habit of writing fictional botany posts -- the last was posted in July 2010 -- even though I enjoyed doing them. After the one in July 2010, I started another, and had a pretty clear image of the plant in my mind, but had trouble finding the right words for it; after working on it for a few weeks, I shelved it and haven't tried to write another since.

One of the things that hindered the fictional botany posts was my complete inability to illustrate the posts. I mean, I knew what I was thinking of, but I couldn't actually show y'all. Which is a problem. This has now been partly remedied, thanks to PATSP reader Nadya W-G, who blogs at Bucket of Birds, and who painted this illustration of Diabarbus polytrichus (sheepwhistle) for me:

Not for free; I have to send her plants later. But still.

If you missed the sheepwhistle post, you can read it here.

Other, as-yet unillustrated, fictional botany posts:

Miscanthus decafasciatus (mathly whipgrass)

Conyza piscis (hippie buttons; georgeweed)

Duggara iridophylla (vampire begonia)

Schizocaulus resectus (404 plant)

Vestisperma acidophora (Mexican sour curtain; cortina de vinagre)

Spiculogramina greenii (cut the devil down; kingwah; sharpgrass; Confederate razor blade; African rat grass)

Aerophthora repens (hushvine; flor de diablo; flor de silencio; orphans' vine)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pretty (?) picture: Aristolochia gigantea

I had planned to do an orchid post today, but it got really complicated, and took off on several tangents: the meaning of the word "natural," hybridization, my best guess as to the identity of the dye Silver Vase is injecting into their orchids to turn them into "Blue Mystiques," whether or not Megan Fox is hot, and what the world's real oldest profession is (hint: not prostitution). And by the time I'd digressed in all those different directions, I'd kind of forgotten what my original point was, or whether I had a point at all. And it didn't really go with the intended orchid pictures (Schomburgkia undulata x Sophrolaeliocattleya Rojo).

So the previously-scheduled orchid post is delayed until . . . let's say Thursday. Or whenever I figure out what my point is.

Meanwhile, the husband and I went in to Iowa City yesterday. I stopped at the ex-job and saw this:

I've blogged about this plant before, but the flower in the previous Aristolochia post hadn't opened fully yet. This is better.

I'm particularly interested in the irregular, fractal-like coloration here. I'd love to know how the plant does that.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Elsewhere on the Web: Did We Win Already?

Greenhouse Grower has a couple articles up about the blue-dyed Phalaenopsis phenomenon, both of which contain some interesting quotes.

In the first, from January 6, Marcella Lucio, the marketing director of Silver Vase (who produce the 'Blue Mystique' non-variety), announces that Silver Vase will now inform consumers that their orchids will re-bloom white instead of blue, both in materials sold with the plants and on their website.

The actual Silver Vase website says something substantially different:

A new stem will probably bring white flowers, though it is too early to know for sure. It is assumed so, because Phalaenopsis orchids have a very strong natural ‘filtering system’ that protects them in the wild.
Silver Vase isn't assuming anything: they're well aware that new stems are going to be white, because they know they're starting from genetically white plants and injecting them with dye, and they know the dye doesn't last forever. So I'm unhappy about the phrasing there.

On the other hand, I enjoyed "[Lucio] says she expected the criticism from the very beginning," as it implies that they knew all along that they were giving customers impossible expectations, and just figured they'd wait until people started complaining to do what they should have done all along. Now that the expected criticism has arrived, and they've admitted that the color's not permanent, they get to look like they're being all responsive to the public. And if, in doing so, they just happen to get another round of publicity? Icing on the cake.

The second link, from January 19, is basically the same story, from a different producer. Plainview Orchids sells dyed phals called "Blue Diamond," "Purple Fusion," and "Lavender Mist," which appear to be produced in exactly the same way (though Purple Fusion begins with a phal which is already purple). According to this article, both Plainview and Silver Vase produce their orchids by permission of some other, unnamed, company, which actually holds the rights to the technique.

Plainview likewise has had a convenient change of heart and will now, they say, be including the rebloom color on their tags. The article includes a snarky, dismissive quote from Plainview president Arie Van Vugt:
At least [the information that it will rebloom a different color is] there as a disclaimer now. But believe me, maybe 1 percent of consumers will get it back flowering anyway.
I can't decide if the cynicism of that makes me like him more than I like Marcella Lucio, or less.

Unlike Silver Vase, Plainview doesn't have anything on their website about reblooming, or even anything about the orchids at all. I also couldn't find anything referring to a "Purple Fusion" Phalaenopsis anywhere on the internet, beyond the Greenhouse Grower article and a handful of photos. So for the moment, I guess we have to take Plainview's word for it.

But hey. We have promises of tags. Is this enough? Did we win?

I'm thinking no, we didn't win, but yes, it might be enough. When I first found out about all this, I was upset that these companies were pretty much just lying, as far as your average consumer is concerned, and presenting a plant for sale that would no longer exist once the plant broke down the last of the dye.1

They are now lying a bit less. It's still a misrepresentation, I'd argue (particularly Silver Vase's maybe-they'll-come-back-blue-anything-could-happen line, which I'd argue is a good example of truthiness in advertising2), but adding fine print does sort of absolve them, even if they know most of their customers aren't going to read it. I certainly don't expect them to grab every potential customer by the shoulders and tell them, in short, declarative sentences, that the plant will rebloom white, not blue. The more serious growers, the ones who would be interested in reblooming the plant, are probably interested enough to read the tag before buying; the ones who just want something to match their sofa  birthday cake frosting  neon Budweiser sign  Patrick Nagel print3 don't care about the long-term future of the plant and intend to throw it out in three months anyway, so this is information they don't need to have.

Patrick Nagel. Blue Sweater. Image via Beyond Anomie. Included because it seems like it might match the "Blue Mystique" orchids at the beginning of the post. (Not quite, as it turns out. But close.)

So this is probably good enough, assuming that Silver Vase and Plainview are actually going to admit that they know what color the plants are going to bloom next time. We'll see. In the meantime, we can still point out the lurid colors and the way this whole dyed-phal thing is so 2010 whenever the subject comes up, and hope that the practice doesn't spread to too many other species of plant before people catch on and stop buying them. We'll see how long that takes.


1 I'm also just sort of offended on an aesthetic level, but that's my own trip, and it would be unfair -- not to mention a little egomaniacal -- to expect Plainview or Silver Vase to care about that.
2 "Truthiness" is, approximately, the truth one wants to exist, or something that seems like it's true. The sort of truth you feel in your gut, whether it has any relationship to reality or not. It was coined by Stephen Colbert in 2005.
3 I have this awful mixed reaction to Nagel images, because they were fashionable in the 80s when I was growing up, so I internalized that they were cool and still have a Pavlovian "cool" response when I see one. They're also so associated with the 80s in my mind that they now seem dated and embarrassing in the same way feathered hair does. So when I see one, my brain starts arguing with itself, which lasts until I am distracted by something else.
We can only hope that dyed Phalaenopsis will one day seem as firmly an embarrassing fad of the past as the cover for Duran Duran's Rio (also a Patrick Nagel work) does.