Friday, August 31, 2018

Schlumbergera seedlings: assorted

Four seedlings to name today, even though I don't like cramming so many together into a single post. Kinda feel like I have to, if I want to get caught up before the 2018-19 Schlumbergeras get going.

Seedling 010B is interesting more for what it is than for what it looks like. When the first blooms appeared in pot 010, I wavered on the question of whether there were two distinct plants in the pot or not. The blooms seemed to vary, but they were still close enough to the same color that I wasn't sure.1 Went back and forth on the question for at least a year before deciding that there was only one seedling in the pot. That decision that lasted for a few years, until this year, when I became convinced that there were two after all. In both seedlings, the "tube" is pink, but one seedling's petals are a bright yellowish-orange,

and the others are pinkish-orange.

And this is consistent enough that I can look at all the photos I've taken over the years and confidently sort most of them into yellow-orange and pink-orange piles. So the yellow-orange one gets the original name, 010A Semantic Satiation, and the pink-orange seedling needs a name of its own.

I considered Incognito (because it went undetected for a long time), Memetic Hazard (because trying to decide whether it was one seedling or two was making me question whether I was going insane),2 and Unreliable Memory (because until it produced two clearly-different blooms at the same time, I was never sure whether or not my memory of past blooms was faulty), but have decided to name 010B Sure Jan, after the skeptical meme.

Or, well, not after the meme -- I liked The Brady Bunch Movie before the internet discovered it3 -- but after the particular moment commemorated by the meme. Technically there should be a comma between "sure" and "Jan," but for various reasons, punctuation in cultivar names is a bad idea.4 So in twenty years it will sound like I'm commemorating a Jan who is particularly certain about something. And, in fact, in the movie Marcia is correct to be skeptical, so the implication is that there is only one seedling after all. But I like the name enough to live with the future misinterpretations.

Moving on:

By the time I took a photo of 142A's flower, it was already dying, so there's only one picture, and it's bad:

Considered names: Full Reverse, Gimme A Second, Lot's Wife (ref.), and Mashed Potato. Decided on 142A Gimme A Second, because you can think of it as the flower in the photo requesting time to get itself together, or me telling the flower to wait until I can take a picture of it.

118A is another white seedling from the NOID white, but it photographed better:

Name finalists for 118A were: Invisibility Spell, Milky Quartz, Polar Bear, Virginia Hall. Milky Quartz (quartz rendered white by the inclusion of microscopic pockets of gas and/or liquid) and Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) are obvious enough: they're both white, the flower's white, it makes sense. I'm not actually sure why Invisibility Spell is here; my best guess is that this was a case of not noticing that the seedling was blooming until the flower was already open.

And Virginia Hall was an American spy in World War II: she was apparently really good at it, but I find her appealing mainly because she had an artificial foot, the result of a hunting accident, and she named the foot "Cuthbert." Which is weird enough to be terribly endearing. If you're me.

Better still: not everyone knew about Cuthbert. According to Wikipedia, Hall had to escape France in 1942, and just before escaping, she signaled the British spy organization for which she worked, including an offhand comment about hoping that Cuthbert didn't give her trouble on the way to Spain. The official response she received was "If Cuthbert troublesome, eliminate him."

Which, come on, that's fucking hilarious.


As much as I like Virginia Hall, I'm feeling like 118A Milky Quartz is the better name for this seedling. I don't know why; I could probably figure it out if I spent some time thinking about it, but we've got another seedling to go, so let's keep moving. Virginia Hall may or may not come back for a later seedling: the main point of bringing her up was to tell you about Cuthbert.

Finally, the best seedling of this bunch, 141A, which is just a winner all the way around. It bloomed a lot despite being in the basement, the blooms were all a bit larger than normal, it's not a new color but at least it's not plain white, and it actually looks better in person than it does in the photos. So there's some pressure to get this name right.

Under consideration: Divoon, Kiss Them For Me, Overdressed, Soujourner Truth.

Divoon and Kiss Them For Me were both previously considered for 182A Padparadscha and 181A Margaret Atwood, for reasons explained in the post for 182A. Divoon was also considered by itself for 132A Pointy Space Princess. Both names are sort of a reference to Jayne Mansfield.

Overdressed is on the list because the flowers' petals seem to be fuller and wider than usual, and lay along the tube in a way that neatly covers it up. This isn't the case in every single photo, but it's how I remember the blooms looking in person. I mean, if you're looking for a name that actually says something about how the flowers look, this is the one to choose.

And then Soujourner Truth is after the historical figure, and would have been the name for 281A No Bad Vibez, were it not for a coin toss.

(Even the buds are pretty.)

This was a difficult choice. I figure Divoon and Kiss Them For Me work for any halfway decent magenta or pinkish seedling, and I know we've got more of them this year.5 And will no doubt have even more next year, and the year after. And until I started writing this post, I assumed that the name was going to be Overdressed, because it was unusually appropriate and descriptive: the name and the seedling seemed to fit really well together.

But Sojourner Truth is a pretty amazing human being. And there are only just so many really nice seedlings. And the more seedlings get named, the less often we're going to run into a seedling that does anything interesting.

So when a person worthy of respect happens to coincide with a seedling worthy of respect, you may as well pair them up, the other names be damned. So this one's 141A Sojourner Truth.


1 And sometimes the color of blooms changes a little bit as they age: this is less pronounced on the Schlumbergeras than it is on the Anthuriums, but it does happen, especially with the seedlings like 079A Yayoi Kusama and 106A Jaws Of Elmo, whose petals shade from white at the base, through orange, red, and then magenta on the margins. The magenta tends to fade after the first couple days.
2 The name is an SCP Foundation reference: they use the term "memetic hazard" to describe anomalous objects whose effects are primarily mental, e.g. a box, containing nothing, that is nevertheless perceived as containing a dangerous bomb, or a lamp which is perceived as a human male by people who are near it. So "memetic hazard" is more or less readable as "fucks with your head in ways beyond the ability of contemporary science to explain." Which fits the seedling in an exaggerated sort of way.
3 Saw it in the theater in 1995, even. Twice.
4 With commas specifically, the issue is mostly that when you're listing seedlings, it can become ambiguous how many seedlings you're talking about: is "Tantalus, Sure, Jan, and Pyrotechnic" three names or four?
I mean, it's fixable with semicolons ("Tantalus; Sure, Jan; and Pyrotechnic"), kinda, but that looks weird too: when did you last encounter an Oxford Semicolon?
Another problem is that label-makers don't all have the same set of characters, so if you include some esoteric symbol in your variety name, someone, somewhere, is going to have to figure out how to print a gazillion tags using a character that their printer isn't equipped to make. So I've been willing to include exclamation marks for an Anthurium seedling (e.g. 1198 Tabboo!), because I don't necessarily think of the Anthurium seedling names as being the real, official names, but for the Schlumbergera seedlings, I haven't gotten any more punctuationally adventurous than hyphens (018B Fifth-Year Senior; 084A Downward-Facing Dog, 122A Tickly-Benders), periods (167A East Of East St. Louis), and apostrophes (095B Pele's Lipstick, 096A I'm Really Sorry, 178A Lulu's Night Off, 188A Freyja's Turkey, 200A Breakin' The Law, 244A That's My Purse, 379A Can't Find The World). And I don't feel great about the periods and apostrophes.
5 (375A, 380A, 143A, 123A)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Animal: Ruby-throated hummingbird; Random plant event: Cannas

I got some hummingbird photos I was proud of a few days ago and wanted to show them to you. This one was the best:

But something about this pleased me too (you may not actually be able to see the bird without enlarging the image):

And this felt particularly Iowan:

So there's that. I'm identifying the bird as a ruby-throated hummingbird because it's statistically the most likely: my impression from Wikipedia is that other species of hummingbird can end up in Iowa from time to time, but the ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only ones that do so regularly.

In previous years, I've seen hummingbirds more often than this year, but I think I have an explanation for this now: in previous years, I'm pretty sure they've nested closer to the house, so the Cannas along our fence were the main food source. This year, we outlined the whole property in Canna beds, so there's more nectar available further away from the house than there used to be.

My estimate is that the below crappy photo shows about 60% of this year's Cannas. The tallest ones are about 9 feet / 3 m.

As every year, I spent most of July telling myself, never again so many Cannas, I cannot keep up with the Japanese beetles, it's literally going to kill me, and then come August I'm so happy we have so many and want even more of them next year. The Japanese beetles and hummingbird photos are only going to make that pattern stronger.

Also, while we're here, I got a comment in an old post last May, and mentioned in my response that I'd collected seeds from a burgundy/green-leaved variety of Canna last year, and was growing them out this year. I expected the seedlings would mostly look like the parents, but I've gotten about 50-50 burgundy/green and plain green:

Well. Maybe 40-60.

Didn't scarify first, just threw them into the soil, and potted them up as they germinated. That photo is nearly a month old now, but aside from being a bit larger, and somewhat beat-up from getting knocked over all the time by the wind, they look basically the same now.

And finally, I've gotten one Canna from the original red-flower, green-leaf group that might or might not be a sport. Ordinarily the inflorescences are completely red, like so:

On the weird one, the actual flowers are still solid red, but now there's something yellow:

Some investigation led me to this page, which says that what we ordinarily think of as the "petals" on Canna hybrids are actually modified stamens, or staminodia; the actual petals and sepals are tiny. So I think what I have here is a plant that's producing red staminodia and yellow petals; I'm unclear on which things are the sepals but maybe they're yellow too.

So far, I've only seen this on one inflorescence, so I'm waiting to see whether it does it again before I get all excited, but even if it was some kind of screw-up due to environmental conditions, it's still pretty interesting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Anthurium nos. 1741, 0782, 1387, 1744, and 1198

Well, there are a couple sort of interesting seedlings here, I guess. Nothing to get too excited about.

Anthurium no. 1741 "Charlie Hides"

Charlie's first bloom appears to have sort of forgotten how to build a spadix in the middle of the process:

I think what's actually going on there is some kind of bacterial or fungal thing -- I feel like I read something about spadix-eating pathogens at some point long ago -- but I haven't looked into it very hard. It's happened with other seedlings, and they seem to snap out of it eventually, if the plant is otherwise healthy. And, indeed, Charlie's second bloom was much more normal-looking:

Some thrips damage on the spathes both times, of course, which is obviously not ideal. The leaves fare better:

And the plant overall seems fine.

Probably keeping Charlie around for a while to see what happens. If nothing else, he's another seedling from the NOID pink-green plant, and so might have some interesting recessive genes.

Anthurium no. 0782 "Rolinda Hay"

Rolinda's actual inflorescences are difficult to get excited about:

but the new foliage is nice. The color in these photos is a little more extreme than reality, because I was still getting used to the camera when I took them, but the progression from brown

to brown and green

to green

is real enough. (This would be in keeping with her seed parent, 0005 Chad Michaels: Chad's new leaves were never quite this dark, but there was an undertone of red or brown, enough that they didn't come across as plain green in person.) There's some thrips damage, but the plant overall is certainly worth holding on to.

Or it would be worth holding on to, except that after I finished the first version of this post, I noticed that Rolinda appears to be already dead. She was fine the week before (except for being sort of generally stunted), but it looks like either she got too dry and wilted, and then couldn't recover, or she got too wet and rotted, and doesn't have the energy to rebuild. So . . . never mind about Rolinda, I guess.

Anthurium no. 1387 "Alexis Zadora"

Alexis's blooms are fine, at least initially, resembling the dark red / greenish-yellow of her seed parent (0290 RuPaul Charles):

Though I'm less enthusiastic about the way they age. That's a lot of thrips damage. (The two photos are of different blooms: above is a recent bloom from April 2018, and below is the first bloom, from October 2017. But the newer bloom did basically the same thing as the older one.)

The foliage is more interesting. It's not that there's no thrips damage, because there is:

But the overall texture of the leaves is a nice, glossy dark green, and the thrips damage isn't nearly as bad as the single-leaf photo would have you believe.

So a tentative keeper, I think. I'm at least delaying the decision until later.

Anthurium no. 1744 "Jill O'Schottz II"

I neglected to get foliage photos for Jill, and there's only been one bloom so far, so our information could be a bit more complete. But the first bloom was large and nice, especially for a pink/pink,

and it aged okay. I mean, that's a lot of thrips damage showing up. But I've seen worse.

And Jill has the advantage of being another seedling from the NOID pink-green, so I was always inclined to keep her, unless she was really spectacularly awful.

Anthurium no. 1198 "Tabboo!"

And finally, I was really surprised that Tabboo!1 bloomed at all, given how small and weak the plant seemed:

As far as it goes, actually, the plant still seems like it's ready to collapse at any moment, but it's bloomed at least once since this, I think twice. So it must be doing better than it looks.

The bloom is fine, but nothing special: I already have this color combination several thousand times, and the spathe has been small every time.

Leaves are likewise fine but nothing special. Or, well, there doesn't seem to be thrips damage, which is special. It's just probably not special enough.

Tabboo!'s seed parent was 0232 Rhoda Badcek, who was a pretty average pink/pink. The only other seedling from Rhoda to bloom, thus far, was 1452 Chastity Vain, who is similar in bloom color and overall demeanor, though Chastity's bloom quality has varied a lot more than Tabboo!'s.


1 [spelling sic; the actual performance name for Stephen Tashjian. The spelling for the social prohibition is usually "taboo." Though I have also seen "tabu." The word originally comes from Tonga, but other Polynesian cultures have similar words for the same concept, like the Maori tapu or Hawaiian kapu. Interestingly, The Free Dictionary notes that Hawaiian contains a lot of words in which the consonant T has become K. I wonder if there's a story there.]

Monday, August 27, 2018

Anthurium no. 1731 "Robyn Millyonz"

Robyn kind of speaks for herself. Or at least I hope she does, since I had trouble coming up with an interesting way of talking about her. Either way, this is something new:

I mean, there have been veiny spathes before (e.g. 1227 Angelboi), and there have been white (1265 Inez Paloma) or beige (1299 Sinthia D Meanor) spathes before, but veiny and white-beige is different.

When Robyn started to bud, I was expecting a green spathe,

and I was pretty excited about that. Not that green Anthuriums are especially attractive, but I'm interested in just how big of a range of color I can get out of the seedlings, so it's important to check the "green" box at some point.1

But instead, the green lightened as the bloom developed, and by the time the spathe began to open, it looked like this:

Which progressed to

and eventually:

The new camera (I still think of it as "new" even though I've had it for nearly a year) has a lot of trouble with Robyn,2 so these aren't exactly what you'd see in person, but these photos should be enough to get a general idea.

The leaves are fine. A little thrips-scarred, but we've seen worse.

And the plant as a whole has a decent shape.

Like 1709 Jinkx Monsoon, Robyn needs to be moved up to a larger pot soon, but I just don't have the space for it. So she waits. Hopefully that will be fine. She seems like a strong seedling. I'm maybe a little disappointed at how infrequent the blooms have been (I think the one in the photos is all I've gotten?), but otherwise she's a keeper.

Oh, and I should also mention that this is the first seedling from 0360 Heidi Gosique to bloom. Heidi was already one of my favorites (lots of blooms; large blooms; huge, flat, interestingly-textured leaves; not a lot of thrips damage -- her only flaw is that she seems to have a bit of a problem with Xanthomonas, though I'm not 100% certain about the diagnosis), but producing offspring like this makes her even more so.


1 Yes, there was 1419 Maya Douglas, who is technically green, but Maya's reluctant to rebloom, and the one inflorescence so far was pretty small. Also not a particularly vivid green, as far as that goes.
I suppose 1103 Valeria T and 1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess are both close enough to green to be worthy of mention. Valeria is initially a very faint green, which intensifies as the spathe ages; Li'l Miss Hot Mess is white, but has green "ears." Both were seedlings of the pea-soup-green 'Midori.'
Not to spoil the plot or anything, but, although we do get an actual green green eventually, it will come from a parent that isn't green at all. Which was a nice surprise.
2 (Similar to the difficulty it has with getting the color right on 1299 Sinthia D Meanor -- there's something about beiges and browns that the camera just can't handle, no matter how many combinations of the color settings I try.)