Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Random plant event: Leuchtenbergia principis

The seedlings are still around, mostly -- I started 56, of which approximately 42 (75%) germinated, and 39 of which (70%) are still around, though some of those aren't looking real promising. I should probably try to figure out a way to move them outside for a couple months; I'm just not sure where I could put them.

But that's not what this post is about (ha! Tricked you!); what the post is about is the first specimen of L. principis I bought, which is producing flower buds!

Leuchtenbergia principis is actually supposed to be a relatively easy cactus to bring into bloom, so this may not excite some of you all that much, but it's a big deal to me. This plant had a flower on it when I bought it in 2009, but hadn't bloomed for me since. They need quite a bit of light to bloom, and I'd been keeping it indoors year-round, therefore no flowers.

The buds don't appear to be developing very rapidly, so I don't know how long it's going to take before I see the actual blooms, but it's something to watch for and something to look forward to. The longer the plant collection lasts, the rarer it is for the plants to do anything I haven't seen them do before (and often when they do bother to do a new thing, it's dying), so stuff like this is even more exciting to me than it would have been a few years back.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Questions for the Hive Mind: outdoor IDs

Neither of these is an emergency sort of ID situation or anything, but I'm curious.

The first plant was growing in the dark underneath our front deck. The husband has torn the deck apart (for complicated reasons I probably don't fully understand), so suddenly the plant is completely exposed, enabling photography. I'm thinking a juniper of some kind? I don't really know the various needley plants very well.

Another question relevant to this one might be, is this worth trying to relocate? I mean, we don't have any particular attachment to it or anything, and I obviously can't know how it will handle transplanting if I don't know what it is, but if it could be a nice plant at some point, and it was free and could be moved, then we're not above trying to give it a more deliberate location.

UPDATE: More or less identified in the comments by multiple people as a Juniperus sp., probably J. virginiana, with an outside chance at J. communis or J. chinensis.

Plant #2 was growing in a bit of land that had been cultivated within the last couple years, but was allowed to do whatever it wanted this year, so this could either be a deliberately-planted ornamental or a common weed, and I'm not sure which is more likely. The whole plant:

And a close-up of a flower:

The flowers sort of make me think of chicory, but the rest of the plant doesn't. This was blooming in late June, by the way.

It's also appealing to thrips, I gather.

Not really looking for any advice on the second one, since it wasn't on our property, plus: ew, thrips. But I hadn't seen it before, and it was interesting, so I figure one of y'all must know what it is.

UPDATE: Identified by nycguy in comments as meadow campion, Silene latifolia ssp. alba.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum lowii

Yep, some of the people at the Illowa orchid show still don't want photographers to be able to see their plants. This background is the worst, though it helps slightly if one can photograph so the background is at an angle, as on the right side of this photo. I don't know why the presenter thinks this is a good idea.

The flowers are pretty cool, though. You would no doubt agree, if you could see them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Apology to a Potter Wasp

11 July 2013

Eumenes fraternus
Family Vespidae
Northeast corner of the garage

(The letter's recipient.)

Dear Ms. Eumenes,

I wish to apologize to you for my actions on 10 July 2013, when I thoughtlessly destroyed the two nests you had constructed on my Pachypodium lamerei and then smeared the caterpillars that were inside across the concrete. I should not have done either of those things.

The brood cells; the one on the left is still being filled; the one on the right is full and has been capped.

I did not intend to inconvenience you; I was merely unfamiliar with your brood cells, and on first glance, feared that they were a gall or other pathogenic growth on my plant. And also I was a bit creeped out by the caterpillars, since to me they're a threat, not baby food.

The caterpillars from the cell that had already been filled. She crammed them in there pretty tightly. Proportionally, that's something like you or I filling a Ford Focus, unassisted, through the driver's side window, with paralyzed German shepherds.

I know that the nests represented a significant investment of effort on your part, in the construction of the chambers themselves, the hunting, stinging, transporting, and shoving of the caterpillars, and the egg laid in the closed nest. Further, I acknowledge that no apology can make up for this loss. Nevertheless, I wished to express my sincere regret, and promise that if you should favor my plants for construction in the future, I am now capable of recognizing your brood cells and will do my best not to harm them until your offspring have matured and emerged.

The caterpillars from the cell that was still being filled. Still alive, technically, but they weren't moving at all when this photo was taken.

I have also instructed my husband and dog not to interfere with your subsequent constructions, if any.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance (mud, location recommendations, caterpillar scouting) to you in the future.

Mr. Subjunctive