Oct 14, 2009

Nepenthes Gracilis (Periuk Kera)

Nepenthes gracilis is a widespread and common pitcher plant from SE Asia. Its latin name describes the long slender leaves characteristic of this species. The normal colour of the pitcher is green, sometimes spotted red but at this open shrubby grassland beside the peat forest.

While the pitchers are meant to catch prey, it is paradoxical that researchers had documented about 150 species of animals living within the pitchers (Phillips and Lamb 1996). These are commenals, that is they feed on excess food of the pitcher plants without doing any harm. Amongst these are frogs, tadpoles, insect larvae, crabs and crab spiders. Older pitchers are preferred since they are less acidic - so if you grow these plants, trim away the old pitchers to prevent mosquito breeding.

It is easily spotted on road banks and other cleared areas in Borneo. There are several colour forms, but all plants have a similar thin, scrambling vine structure, that is an easily distinguishable feature of this species. N. gracilis is predominantly found at the lower altitudes of its range, but has been observed growing next to N. stenophylla at Long Buan, Kalimantan Timur, and 2/3 of the way up the Crocker range in Sabah.

Borneo, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Sulawesi, Singapore, Thailand

ELEVATION: 0-1000 meters

Depending on the cultured plants origin, this species may be very susceptible to cooler temperatures. Grow as a typical lowland plant, and it will thrive. As plants get larger, put them into very large containers, and they will climb to form a large mass of stems and pitchers.

Oct 13, 2009

Charlotte's Phacelia (Phacelia nashiana ) Hydrophyllaceae Charlotte's Phacelia

Latin name: Phacelia nashiana Jepson
Pronunciation: fa-SEEL-ee-a nash-ee-AY-na 
Common name: Charlotte's phacelia  
Family: Boraginaceae (Borage) 
Habitat: Pinyon-juniper woodland, joshua treewoodland, west Mojave Desert, Tehachapis, Kern Co., southern Sierra Nevadas 

Description: Annual herb 1 1/2 - 7 1/8 inches (4-18cm) tall. Stems short, stiff, and hairy. Leaves 1 1/8 - 2 3/4 inches (15-70mm) long, ovate to round, with edge lightly lobed to shallowly indented. Flowers bell-shaped, deep blue with white tube, and 3/8 - 3/4 inches (10-18mm) long. Flower stalks are 1/4 - 3/8 inches (5-10mm) long. Fruit is an egg-shaped capsule 1/4 - 1/2 inch (7-14mm) long, with 40-80 yellowish seeds, 1/16 inch (about 2mm) long. 

Habitat: Sandy to rocky, granitic slopes. Pinyon/juniper woodland. Elevation 1920 - 7040 feet.

Blooming period: May to June

NOTE: The correct taxonomic position of this species vis-à-vis Phacelia campanularia is uncertain.

Oct 12, 2009

The Harpy Eagle, Panama's national bird...

The Harpy Eagle is the most powerful eagle of the humid Neotropical forests. Its is under threat because of forest loss and persecution from humans. These magnificent eagles only reproduce slowly in the wild with one chick every two to three years, so to expect any increase in their numbers from breeding in the wild will take a long time. Early South American explorers named the bird "harpy" eagle after the predatory half-woman, half-bird monster of Greek mythology.

The "Aguila harpia" is a very rare animal with an unknown population. This incredibly beautiful and majestic bird weighs from 5-9 kg. (males) and 7-9 kg. (females) with a wingspan of 7 feet (around 2.2 m). This is one of the largest of the 50 species of eagles and can achieve a speed of around 50 mph.

The Harpy Eagle's habitat is the tropical lowland forests like the Darien and is geographically restricted from southern Mexico, through Central and South America down to the northern part of Argentina.

In the wild the diet of the Harpy Eagle consists of small tree dwelling animals such as monkeys, opossums and sloths.

Its head is pale grey and crowned with a double crest. The back of the animal is black and its underside is white with a black stripe or band going up the chest thus giving it a menacing look to match its reputation.

There is knowledge of about 35 harpy nests in the Republic of Panama, although there are surely more.

The country is willing to save its national bird by leaving it and its habitat alone, and that's a conscious decision that people have to be convinced to make.

Two eggs are usually laid but only one chick hatches after 53-56 days of incubation. This species has one of the longest rearing periods of any raptor; about 2-3 years can pass between the birth of the chick and the next nesting attempt.

Oct 9, 2009

Kennedy's Mariposa Lily

Calochortus kennedyi var. kennedyi

Among members of the Lily family, Old World tulips are much loved and grown worldwide. Calochortus, the Mariposa Lily or Mariposa Tulip, is a related group of native bulbous perennial herbs with grass-like leaves. Mariposa Lilies are not as widely known as tulips but they win instant and enthusiastic admiration from all who discover them. Their simple but elegant flowers are adorned with elaborate hairy nectaries at the base of each petal. The shape, position, and bearded adornments of these nectaries are important characters for species identification.

DISTRIBUTION: Heavy or rocky soils in creosote-bush scrub and pinyon-juniper woodland from the Transverse Ranges to the Mojave Desert; 600-2200 m.

Oct 8, 2009

Lupinus succulentus

Scientific Classification

Kindom : Plantae
Division : Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Fabales
Family : Fabaceae
Subfamily :Faboideae
Genus : Lupinus
Species : L. Succulentus

Binomial name
Lupinus succulentus

Lupinus succulentus is a species of lupine known by the common names hollowleaf annual lupine, arroyo lupine, and succulent lupine. It is native to California, where it is common throughout much of the state, and adjacent sections of Arizona and Baja California. It is known from many types of habitat and it can colonize disturbed areas. It is used as a native landscaping plant. This fleshy annual herb grows up to a meter in maximum height. Each palmate leaf is made up of 7 to 9 leaflets up to 6 centimeters long. The inflorescence is a series of whorls of flowers each between 1 and 2 centimeters long. The flower is generally purple-blue with a white or pink patch on its banner, and there are sometimes flowers in shades of light purple, pink, and white. The fruit is a roughly hairy legume pod up to 5 centimeters long and about one wide.

Oct 7, 2009

Huntsman Spider (Isopeda Isopedella)

huntsman spider

The common huntsman spider is found throughout south-eastern Australia. It lives anywhere, favouring plants which will offer shelter such as ivy. It is very common to have huntsman spiders in urban areas, and the spiders will come inside your house.

These large spiders move very quickly, they are hairy with long legs. They often shock people who are not from Australia, as Australia has a reputation for dangerous creatures. Due to their size and speed, they do manage to intimidate a lot of people. However, these spiders are harmless. The spiders can measure up to 15 cms wide from leg to leg. They have a flat body, which is useful for them to crawl underneath bark and other such hiding places.

They can bite you, and if they do, it will be painful and swelling may occur. A cold pack may relieve the symptoms, but if pain persists please see a doctor.

Mating begins with the male's pedipalps, a pair of leg-like appendages located between the fangs and the first pair of true legs that aid in scent detection, manipulating prey and reproduction. The male drums his pedipalps on a tree trunk to attract nearby females. He then inserts the pedipalps into his mate to fertilize her eggs. The pregnant female then builds a silken retreat where she lays up to 200 eggs inside a flat, silken egg sac. She spends about three weeks aggressively defending her eggs, during which time she won't leave or eat. When it's time for her spiderlings to hatch, the attentive mother may even tear open the egg sac to help free them.

They feed on insects and other such invertebrates.

Oct 6, 2009

ASTER .. a typical garden flower seen everywhere

As written in wikipedia, Aster (syn. Diplopappus Cass.) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. The genus once contained nearly 600 species in Eurasia and North America, but after morphologic and molecular research on the genus during the 1990s, it was decided that the North American species are better treated in a series of other genera.

After this split there are roughly 180 species within the genus, all but one being confined to Eurasia.
The name Aster comes from the Ancient Greek word astron, meaning "star", arriving through the Latin word astrum with the same meaning, referring to the shape of the flower head.

Oct 5, 2009

Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea

A native of woodlands, the foxglove thrives in a damp, partially shaded spot. This stately plant look good grown under tall trees or to give height at the back of the border. Foxgloves have broad, wrinkled leaves which form a basal rosette. The magenta bells are large and appear in June on tall, erect stems. The long spikes of flowers open from the bottom upwards. On the inside of the flower there are dark purple spots edged with white. These guide bees and other insects towards the nectar, deep inside the flower. Foxglove is a biennial, common on disturbed ground on banks, woodland clearings, sea-cliffs and heaths. It can be very abundant in recently cleared forestry plantations.

Foxgloves are an easy-going traditional cottage garden plant that will grow in full sun or shade and do well in most soils. They look particularly attractive when they are allowed to self seed and naturalise, creating drifts of tall flowering spikes and are very attractive to bees and some moths. This is the natural source of the drug digitalis, which is used to treat heart conditions.

Foxgloves (Digitalis) has been mostly used by herbalists for medicinal purposes. Despite the beauty of its colorful display however, blooms, roots, sap, flowers, seeds and leaves, are all poisonous even when dried and should be handled with 'gloves'! sml. Medicinally, digitalis has been used for strengthening the heart and regulating heart beat. They should not be grown in areas where pets or children can likely make contact.

Some of the most common garden flowers have fascinating histories and symbolic meanings. Flowers have been associated with symbolism for thousands of years. Flowers are a significant part of our lives from birth to death. Many popular garden flowers including foxglove, lupines, poppies, sunflowers, sweet peas, tulips and zinnias are associated with a treasure trove of stories and mythologies.

Foxglove flowers have both positive and negative symbolic meanings. They are said to sometimes hurt and sometimes heal. In the language of flowers, foxglove flowers are associated with insincerity. On the positive side, the common name is said to come from "folk's gloves," with "folk" referring to helpful fairy folk.

In medieval gardens dedicated to Mother Mary, foxglove was called "Our Lady's Gloves" or "Gloves of the Virgin." The scientific name is digitalis, a reference to the presence of powerful chemicals that can heal heart conditions if taken correctly but can kill if taken in large amounts.

Foxglove thrives in soils that are rich in iron and coal. New coalfields can sometimes be located by finding masses of foxgloves growing together. Foxgloves are perennials that thrive in temperate zones and like shade, part shade and sun.

Foxgloves come in white, yellow, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple. Foxglove can be grown either through seeds or divisions of plant clumps. The plants range from 2-6' high depending on the variety.

The flowers look best in the back of a garden and bloom in a pyramid shape with the lowest blossoms opening first and the buds remaining closed at the top.

Oct 4, 2009

Hermit Crab Facts

Hermit crabs are decapod crustaceans of the superfamily Paguroidea . They are not closely related to true crabs. Hermit crabs are quite commonly seen in the intetidal zone: for example, in tide pools.

Most species of hermit crab have long, soft abdomens which are protected from predators by a salvaged empty seashell carried on the crab's back, into which the crab's whole body can retract. Most frequently hermit crabs utilize the shells of sea snails; the tip of the hermit crab's abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell. As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one.

Two possible etymologies exist for the name of "hermit crab." One is that their habit of living in a second hand shell gave rise to the name, which is analagous to a hermit living alone in a small cave. The second is that it is a translation of the scientific name of the Caribbean hermit, Coenobita clypeatus, which translates as "shield-bearing monk"; this species is one of a few known to climb trees.

Hermit crab are really unique; therefore there are lots of interesting facts about them. For instance, did you know that some crabs abandon their shells and live without them? Or that crab sizes vary from a few millimeters to giants whom size can be compared to coconuts?

At first, these crabs were thought to live quite short lives in captivity. But, over the years, this has changed. People learned to take proper care of them. Today, if the crab has been cared for properly, it can live for up to thirty years.

Did you know why hermit crab can't reproduce in captivity? That is so because hermit crabs deposit their eggs to the sea. That is why they are only able to reproduce in captivity if there is a simulated shoreline.

There are two most common types of hermit crabs grown in home as pets. The Ecuadorian and the Caribbean crab.

Ever noticed that your crabs don't move a lot in daylight? That is because they are more active at night.

Even though it might sound a bit weird, but a hermit crab would drown if left under water for too long.

Do crabs make noises, communicate? That might be true, scientists are studying the croaking noises hermit crabs make, it might be their way of communicating.

Hermit crabs do not live alone; they are usually in colonies of 100 crabs and more.

Beware of the claws of purple crabs; they can even break a pencil in two!

Hermit crabs drink by dipping their claw in water and putting the drops on the claw to their gills or mouth.

There are over five hundred hermit crab species know today. The ones that can be grown as pets in homes are terrestrial (living mostly on land).

Oct 3, 2009

Gentiana acaulis "Trumpet or Stemless Gentian"

"Blue flowers are the least plentiful, and the philosophers tell us why. All flowers, they say, were at first green; from this they diverged to yellow and white; their next advance to shades of red. Their triumphant colour - or, say, their final stage in chromatic evolution - is blue. If we accept the hypothesis - for theory it is not - we must regard the gentians as incapable of further change in respect of colour. They have passed through all the prescribed phases, and having reached the goal, may rest and be thankful, while myriad flowers in the earlier stages are still slowly fighting their way to the ‘blue ribbon' of the turf amidst which they sparkle and glow."

Gentiana acaulis has a wide distribution throughout the mountains of Europe (Alps, Balkans, Carpathians, Jura, Pyrenees), and is therefore found growing in a variety of habitats from pastures to rubble and scree and to coniferous woodlands at sub to alpine levels. It also grows in both lime and acidic soils.

Acaulis means "stemless" and is also a group name covering a number of trumpet gentians. The acaulis group includes Gentiana acaulis, angustifolia, alpine, dinarica, ligustica, occidentalis and clusii.

Trumpet Gentian is a beautiful spring species producing large, upturned trumpets of brilliant deep blue over a mat of glossy, dark-green lance-shaped foliage. The trumpets are spotted green inside and the flowers have metallic flakes in their petals. Height is only 5-8 cm. It is an evergreen, mat-forming species which spreads outward by a slow increase in its rosettes. These are easy to pull apart into separate rooted sections and be replanted separately, once the need for division arrives after 3-4 years. Flowering is normally late spring to early summer.

Next to Gentiana septemfida (Everyman's Gentian), G. acaulis is perhaps the easiest species for novice rock gardens to try. It is not difficult to please. Consistent moisture, but a well-drained spot seems essential. Full sun is preferred for best flowering. It is exceptionally hardy, at least to Zone 3. I have seen the species growing with the vigour of a border perennial in Alberta and the Yukon and it certainly thrives in many gardens in the Ottawa area.

Germination from seed requires either cold treatment or GA-3 (with germination at warm within 2 weeks). Growth is slow, as with most Gentians, so expect to wait for at least 3 years for flowering-sized plants. For the impatient, plants are now readily available from alpine nurseries.

Oct 2, 2009

Wildlife Tourism in India

The pristine forests of Namdapha lies in the North eastern most part of India, tucked amongst the hills, crisscrossed by the rumbling Noa-Dihing and Namdapha rivers and their countless tributaries. Located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Namdapha National Park was declared a "Tiger Project" in the year 1983 and today boast of a healthy tiger population, no doubt, because of inaccessibility- just another reason for it virginity.

Namdapha takes pride in its flora and fauna and it is a dream for any botanist and wildlife enthusiast to be within its lap at least for once in life. It is the only place in the world to have for different big cats as its inhabitants namely the tiger, the leopard, the snow leopard and the very elusive, Clouded leopard. It is also home to the very rare hoolock gibbon-the only ape that is found in the Sub-continent. Countless other species like elephants, bison, wild pigs and antelopes enhances the diversity of its varied and rich fauna.

With the majestic snow capped peaks of the Daphabum range as its backdrop, Namdapha is a photographers delight as well, and its not just the professionals but the amateur who can take pride in the masterpieces that they have clicked. The best time to visit Namdapha is from October till March, but I would suggest, January. Temperature during this time generally hovers around 1 to 5 degrees Celsius and is ideal for conducting long treks deep into the forest. A tiny Hamlet called Deban, nestled in the environs of the majestic Patkai range, is the focal point of entry into the core of Namdapha and the forest guest house out there is the jewel of its crown.

One can just sit and enjoy the dazzling beauty of the winter morning, in the manicured gardens of the Deban tourist lodge, with hot sips of tea, or for the more adventurous, treks into nearby interest like horn bill, bulbulia and not so nearby interests like firmbase can be another wonderful option.

Heavy jackets and woolen jumpers are recommended during this time of the year and if you wish to go on treks make sure that you get yourself a nice pair of leech guards from the local forest department.

Complete details regarding bookings and permits can be requested from the Field Director's office located at Miao, Changlang district or by visiting the following website: http://changlang.nic.in/howto1 .html#touristinfo
If you really yearn for adventure, want to be in the lap of nature or even go on a tiger's trail, Namdapha is the destination for you.

Flora, fauna altered by global warming

SACRAMENTO -- When Berkeley biologist Chris Conroy and colleagues went looking in Yosemite for the alpine and shadow chipmunks, they had trouble finding mammals that an earlier generation of Berkeley scientists found everywhere in the park.

The California pocket mouse, ordinarily making its home in chaparral, was found 2,000 feet higher than where it was 90 years ago. Scientists likewise had to hike 1,000 feet higher to find the wood rat and California vole.

The pinon mouse, typically found on dry, eastern Sierra slopes and never in Yosemite, today is found all over the park, along with another new arrival, the harvest mouse.

Something is rearranging California's flora and fauna, and climatic shifts are topping the list of explanations. Sierra snows are melting one to three weeks earlier than historically, ushering in an early spring and drier soils and forests, particularly at middle elevations.

For the better part, that's where climate researcher Anthony Westerling has found an explosion in wildfires across the American West. The number of wildfires has quadrupled in the last 17 years and the burned acreage has swelled almost seven times over, mostly at middle elevations.

"There's a really strong correlation here between temperature and forest fires, and it really picked up since the late 1980s," Westerling said Friday in Sacramento at the California Energy Commission's third annual conference on climate change.

For now, the greatest wildfire risk in California is on the southern coast and in the southern Sierra foothills. But every computer simulation of greenhouse-gas warming shows higher fire risk in California, and the greatest increase in risk is in Northern California, Westerling said.

If the rate of fossil fuel burning continues to accelerate at its current pace, the greatest probability for large property losses shifts to the Sierra foothills northwest of Sacramento, he said.

Whether there will be forests to burn there is another question. Ponderosa pines in the northern Sierra foothills are getting harder to find where scientists mapped them in the 1930s.

Jim Thorne, an environmental science researcher at the University of California, Davis, compared the latest vegetation maps with ones made by Berkeley scientists in the 1930s and '40s. In Eldorado County, he found, the forests have shifted 16 miles toward the mountains and more than 1,700 feet higher, climbing three meters a year on average since the '30s.

"I think a lot of this might be due to climate change," Thorne said Friday.

Ordinary wildfires are claiming the trees, but Thorne said he suspects the replacement seedlings are encountering warmer, drought- like conditions and failing. Those warmer conditions are apparent when Thorne looks at monthly minimum temperatures in the foothills, which usually are nighttime cools.

In the early '80s, those average minimums for Lake Tahoe in May and October rose above freezing and never have come back down.

In Yosemite Valley, the coolest temperatures in November, March and April went past freezing in or before 1990 and haven't come back.

Winter in Placerville no longer is reliably white. Nighttime temperatures in December, January and February have averaged above freezing since the early 1990s.

"There are no longer any months at Placerville that remain frozen," said Thorne.

The changes aren't unique to winter. During last summer's heat wave, nighttime in Fresno brought virtually no relief, with temperatures staying as high as 90. That makes sense for southern desert places like Needles and Death Valley, but not the Central Valley, said Kelly Redmond, director of the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.

"That's just way beyond what I would have expected to see," Redmond said. "And we're seeing it all over the West."

Oct 1, 2009

Alnus incana (Alder) Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Alder is a common tree along watercourses, damp ditches and other wet habitats. The male catkins are superficially similar to those of hazel, but rather more reddish. The long male catkins produce the pollen, which is carried on the wind to the smaller, red female flowers seen above them (which are not reminiscent of hazel). After pollination these female flowers develop into small, woody cone-like fruits which persist on the branches for some time, which makes alders easy to recognise and identify!

Alder is an attractive, low-growing tree common along streams. Its leaves are toothed and often folded inward along the central leaf vein. Alder has small persistent cones which are actually remains of the staminate flower clusters. These remain on the branches after the leaves have fallen. Alder almost always has many slender trunks.

"Alnus" is the ancient Latin name for the tree, and "incana" is Latin for "gray or hairy".

It is a small to medium size tree 15-20 m tall with smooth grey bark even in old age, its life span being a maximum of 60-100 years. The leaves are matt green, ovoid, 5-11 cm long and 4-8 cm broad. The flowers are catkins, appearing early in spring before the leaves emerge, the male catkins pendulous and 5-10 cm long, the female catkins 1.5 cm long and one cm broad when mature in late autumn. The seeds are small, 1-2 mm long, and light brown with a narrow encircling wing. The Grey Alder has a shallow root system, and is marked not only by vigorous production of stump suckers, but also by root suckers, especially in the northern parts of its range. Th e woo d resembles that of the black alder, but is somewhat paler and of little value.


Alnus incana is a light-demanding, fast-growing tree that grows well on poorer soils. In central Europe, it is a colonist of alluvial land alongside mountain brooks and streams, occurring at elevations up to 1500 metres. However, it does not require moist soil, and will also colonize screes and shallow stony slopes. In the northern part of its range, it is a common tree species at sea level in forests, abandoned fields and on lakeshores. It is sometimes used for afforestation on non-fertile soils which it enriches by means of nitrogen fixing bacteria in its root nodules. Several species of Lepidoptera use Grey Alder as a food plant for their caterpillars. In the Boreal forest area of Canada, A. incana is often associated with Black Spruce in the forest type termed Black Spruce/Speckled Alder.

Sep 30, 2009

Sitka spruce - picea sitchensis

The Sitka Spruce is named after a place called Sitka in Alaska although its natural range is all along the coast of NW America. It was introduced to Britain in 1831 and is therefore a non native conifer. The tree grows with a very straight conical shape trunk. Long downward flowing branches hang down low from the pointed crown.

It can grow up to 50 m or more with a trunk over 2m in diameter.

Is greyish brown which gets curved fissures and flaky plates as it grows.

Leaves Flowers and Cones

Leaves are green flattened needles that grow individually. They are stiff, hard and very sharp. The red flositka flowerswers are seldom seen as they are found right at the top of the older trees. They ripen into pale brown, blunt and domed cones. The thin, hard, crinkled scales of the cones protect the seeds inside.

Where and how does the Sitka Spruce grow?

This conifer naturally grows on the west coast of North America . It has a very fast growth rate compared to some other trees. This means it can yield high volumes of timber in a comparatively short time. Foresters have developed models for growth or yield. The “yield class” figure is the mean cubic metres growth, for each hectare of tree species for each years growth. Sitka spruce has a yield class of 14 (14 cubic metres per hectare per year); Oak can be as low as 4. In terms of time, a Sitka spruce only needs to grow for 40 -60 years to reach its maximum timber potential. An oak can take up to and over 150 years.

The Sitka Spruce has been grown commercially for timber especially in upland locations. Deep, moist and well drained soils are best for growth and so it flourishes in the North and West of the country on damper and elevated sites. Seeds dropped naturally from this conifer grow extremely well and at enormous rates; this “natural regeneration” is encouraged in many Forest sites.

Wildlife around the Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce can grow close together to make a very dense canopy. It is difficult for sunlight to find it’s way through to the woodland floor so few plants can grow underneath them. Sitka Spruce do, however, give excellent shelter from wind, rain, cold and sometimes the heat of the sun. Larger animals such as deer and foxes like to find cover amongst the branches. Birds of prey, like Goshawks and Sparrowhawks can find excellent nesting and hunting sites on and around the Sitka Spruce.

Smaller birds such as the Crossbill, Tree Creeper, Coal tit and Siskin also enjoy living and feeding around the Sitka Spruce. picture


The wood from this tree is top quality - it is very versatile and is easy to work with. “Thinnings” (smaller trees taken from plantation) are particularly valuable for paper making as the white colour of the wood and long cellulose fibres make strong but smooth paper

Sitka spruce wood today

Boat and ship construction, pallets, packing boxes, board manufacture and paper making
Old uses - Used for aircraft frames and gliders.

Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum)

Kingdom: Plantae

(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots

Order : Alismatales

Family : Araceae

Subfamily: Aroideae

Tribe : Thomsonieae

Genus : Amorphophallus

Species : A. titanum

The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "penis", and titan, "giant") is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The largest single flower is borne by the Rafflesia arnoldii; the largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera). It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is still indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra. Due to its fragnance, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" (in Indonesia, "bunga bangkai" – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the rainforests of Sumatra).

The spectacular titan arum produces the world’s largest compound flower or inflorescene; the largest of which is reported to have reached 3.5 metres tall . Years may pass between flowering events but when the time does come this plant produces a truly spectacular bloom. A large bud appears on the forest floor and with remarkable speed the flower grows and opens to its full size. As with all members of the Arum family the inflorescence consists of a petal-like structure known as a ‘spathe’ and a flower-bearing spike, the ‘spadix’; the whole structure is borne on a stout stalk only 25 – 35 cm high. The spathe resembles an upturned bell with a frilly margin, the outside is pale green but when it unfurls the inner crimson walls are displayed. The spadix emerges above the spathe, the upper portion is known as the appendix and is brownish-yellow in colour.

The male and female flowers are situated on the lower portions of the spadix where they are sheltered by the giant spathe. The tightly packed cream male flowers are found in a band above the female flowers. Once pollinated, the female flowers develop into olive-sized bright red fruits that are carried in cylindrical clusters up to half a metre long. The single leaf of the titan arum is also gigantic in size; resembling a small tree rather than a leaf, it can tower up to 5 metres tall and divides into an umbrella-like canopy that can be 7 metres across.


Rafflesia, a native of rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in the Indonesian Archipelago, is the largest flower in the world. Interestingly, Rafflesia is a parasitic plant without any leaves, stems and roots (It has only nutrient-absorbing threads to absorb nutrients from the host on which it lives) but for the largest flower.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division : Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Rafflesiales
Family : Rafflesiaceae
Genus : Rafflesia
Species : R. arnoldii

Rafflesia is a huge speckled five-petaled flower with a diameter up to 106 cm, and weighing up to 10 kg. Rafflesia flower has a small life of 5-7 days. Rafflesias have their stamens and pistils fused together in a central column, producing a corona, or crown, in the shape of a ring. The reddish brown colors of the petals, are sprinkled with white freckles. The smell attracts the carrion flies and then pollination occurs. After 9 months of maturation, Rafflesia plant opens into a cabbage-sized bud. The sexual organs are located beneath the rim of the disk.

Facts About Rafflesia

  • Rafflesia is the largest individual flower. Titan arum bears the largest inflorescence.
  • Rafflesia is a parasite which attaches itself to a host plant, Tetrastigma vine, which grows only in undisturbed rainforests, to obtain water and nutrients.
  • The genus Rafflesia is named after adventurer and founder of the British colony of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles.
  • Dr Arnold is remembered in the species name as Rafflesia arnoldii.
  • Rafflesia is the official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia, as well as for the Surat Thani Province, Thailand.
  • Rafflesia manillana, the smallest species in the genus Rafflesia is also has 20 cm diameter flowers.
  • Rafflesia flowers are unisexual.
  • Forest mammals and tree shrews feed on Rafflesia fruit which is 15cm in diameter, filled with smooth flesh and thousands of tiny hard coated seeds.
  • It is believed that rafflesia is related to poinsettias, violets, passionflowers, and other members of the order Malpighiales.
  • The rotten smell of the flower is due to the reddish tentacle-like, branched ramentae, inside the corolla of petals.
  • Rafflesia is an endangered or threatened genus.
  • Rafflesia arnoldii does not have chlorophyll, as all the green plants have and so it cannot undergo photosynthesis.
Growing Rafflesia

As Rafflesia is one of the rarest plants on earth, people started to study them since 1929. They tried to cultivate the plant artificially, as the plant takes 9 to 21 months until a bud flowers - only to last for less than a week. But all the experiments ended in failure.

The Queen`s Flower

The `Queen`s Flower` tree, known as `Lagerstromia Speciosa` in science, is a very beautiful sight when in bloom. This is a member of the `Lythraceae` family and a common Indian tree. The Hindi speaking people call it as `Arjuna` or `Jarul`. It is known as `Jarul` in Bengali as well. The tree known as `Kadali` and `Pumarathu` in Tamil language. In Sinhalese, it is `Murutu` while it is named as `Bongor Raya` or `Sebokok` in Malayalam. The English people know it as `Queen`s Crepe Myrtle` or the `Pride of India`.

In the month of April, the flowers and leaves of the tree appear in a great style. At this time, the tree covers up with some fragile colours. The tree blooms until the month of July, when the hot season ends. It is justifiably popular in the gardens and also in villages.

The Queen`s Flower TreeWhen the tree is in its full bloom, the pale greens and multicoloured bunches of flowers stand out to relieve our eyes from the dense darkness of the jungle. The bark of the tree is grey and smooth and also squared with polish and cream. The tree is broad-leafed but the leaves fall so slow and steadily that it rarely becomes bare. The large and vertical pyramids of flowers appear in the Summer. Varying from trees to trees, they change their colours. In some trees they are of purple colour, in some others they are mauve. Sometimes, they take a pretty pinky-mauve colour while sometimes they also take the definite pink colour. They even become white in some special occasions. Usually, the new flowers contain a deeper colour, but the older or aged ones become fade and sometimes almost white by the course of time. The various shades of the flowers scatter along the sprays and give them The Queen`s Flowera charming appearance. At the end, the buds are soft bluish-green. They also have a touch of pink in them. The wavy sepals give them the look of the velvet jugs. Inside the flowers, six or seven of the sepals are very soft green in colour and they are revealed between the slim bases of the petals. These petals are very uneven and wrinkled and this is why the tree acquired its other name, the `Crepe Flower`. The whole flower calculates around 6.3 cm across and it has some yellow dotted stamens and also a long style that radiate from the centre. When the flowering season is over, the numerous fruits form, sitting like little green crab apples in the wasted calices. In the later part of the year, they turn black and remain in the tree for almost the rest of the year along with the next flowering and fruiting season.

The Queen`s Flower TreeNormally, the leaves of the tree grow alternating each other and sometimes in nearly making a pair. They also grow in all the directions of the branches. They are bright green in colour and a little pale below. Being heavily veined on the underside, each leaf is a smooth and pointed oval that measures from 12.5 to 20 cm in length and grows from a short stalk. Sometimes, they turn an eye-catching coppery shade just before they fall down in the Winter. They also give the tree a temporary charm provided the insects don`t disfigure them.

The timber of `Queen`s Flower` posses a great value that can be compared with that of the `Teak Tree` only. The wood is very tough and strong and it can also resist the effects of salty sea- water and sea air for many years. For this great quality only, in India it is used for making wharf posts, boats, casks, etc. With a fine polish, the timber can also be used for making panels on the wall as well as furniture. The country people found some medicinal values of the tree as well. According to them, the roots of the tree are astringent, the seeds are narcotic and the bark and leaves are strongly physique. However, the main reason of the people to cultivate the tree is the ability to be used frequently in decoration.

Lecocarpus pinnatifidus (Asteraceae) in an isolated population in the Galápagos Islands

Lecocarpus pinnatifidus is an endemic member of the Asteraceae occurring on only one island in the Galápagos archipelago. The capital are large with female ray florets and male disc florets. They are self-compatible but this study suggests fruit set is pollen limited. Visits from Xylocopa darwini and other larger insect pollinators are rare, and small insects seem to be the main pollinators. Small insects carry few pollen grains and most likely mediate self-pollinations. Self-compatibility and seed set after selfing are the most common reproductive strategy in the Galápagos Islands and L. pinnatifidus seemingly fits well into this group.

The cutleaf daisy (Lecocarpus pinnatifidus) is named for the deeply and irregularly lobed margins of its leaves. It is one of the rarest plants in the Galapagos, and the world, known only from Punta Cormorante, Floreana Island, where this picture was taken. This area is one of the best visitor sites to see a variety of endemic plants in a relatively small area.

Sep 29, 2009

Red Stemmed Thalia (Thalia geniculata)




Native or Introduced:

Nutrient Removal Rating:
High (cleanse and polish)

Wildlife Value:


Rooted or Floating:

Site Requirements:
Full sun

Maximum Water Depth:
36 inches

Plant Description:
Red stemmed thalia can be as tall as 10.5 feet. Leaves are basal with green or red-purple sheaths. Petioles are green to red-purple and smooth.

Blades are oval to narrow elliptical and measure 8-24 inches by 2-10 inches. Blades are green and have rounded bases and pointed tips. Inflorescences open and spread widely. Flowers are lavender to purple in color. Flowers yield elliptical fruits that contain brown/black smooth seeds.

Flowering occurs from summer to fall with fruits developing summer to winter. Red stemmed thalia inhabits ponds, ditches, swamps, marshes, streams, and lakes. It can be emergent or grow along the banks.

Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus L.)

Identification: A partially aquatic plant. Flowers small, white, arranged in an elongate, compact, thickened spike, spike usually curled or nodding near the tip. Stems thick, smooth. Leaves large, dark green, heart-shaped with thick petioles. Plant 2 to 5 feet in height.

Distribution: Michigan in the west to Ontario and New England in the east, southward to Florida and Texas.

Habitat: Lizard's Tail is found in swamps and shallow water.

Flowering period: June to September.

Similar Species: The combination of the aquatic habitat, the long flower spike with its nodding tip, and the large, dark, heart-shaped leaves should easily identify this species.

Sep 28, 2009

Sweet Alyssum Lobularia maritima (Brassicaceae)

A hardy annual native to Southern Europe, but has naturalized throughout the United States. Dense clusters of tiny snow-white flowers bloom continuously throughout the growing season if the spent blossoms are trimmed back. A compact, rapid growing variety which is drought tolerant and heat resistant. Thrives in full sun to partial shade, in almost any soil. Best sown in early spring, seedlings cannot withstand a heavy frost. A seemingly endless parade of blooms.

Characteristics of Sweet Alyssum
Although treated as an annual in the North, sweet alyssum is one of the hardier annuals there: it may survive light frosts that tenderer plants will succumb to. Sweet alyssum flowers do come in other colors (there is a purple alyssum, for instance), but white alyssum is the most widely planted. Its flower clusters are fragrant. The flowers have 4 small, blunt petals set in such a way as to give the blossom almost a squarish appearance. Sweet alyssum plants are short and spread to form mats. The plants' narrow leaves hardly show at all when sweet alyssum is in full bloom, if the plants are packed tightly together.

Uses for Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum flowers can form a striking border when massed together as bedding plants. Mat-forming sweet alyssum stays short and complements taller border plants well: planted in front of the taller plants, sweet alyssum won't obscure them. They are also popular in container gardens; as short plants, you can install them along the rim (they'll hang over slightly). Their short stature also makes sweet alyssum plants useful as temporary rock garden plants or ground covers. White sweet alyssum flowers are often used with red salvia and blue ageratum in the U.S. for a "patriotic" landscaping color scheme.

Care for Sweet Alyssum

Hate to deadhead plants to encourage reblooming, because it's so time-consuming? Not to worry, with sweet alyssum flowers. Just give the plants a good "haircut" with a pair of scissors when they start to get leggy (remove about 1/2 of the growth): not only will this care promote further flowering, but it will also keep the plants optimally compact. Sweet alyssum sometimes re-seeds.

Outstanding Characteristics of Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum flowers boast a long blooming period, and the flowers are rugged (unlike those on petunias, for example, which are a veritable blight upon the landscape after a strong rain has ruined them). For that matter, even after a few of their flowers have died, sweet alyssum plants still look good: their individual flowers are so small, you really don't notice a dead one here or there. This latter feature makes sweet alyssum flowers relatively low-maintenance, as there's no compelling aesthetic reason to "pick up after" them.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), also known as the Virginia deer, or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States (all but five of the states), Canada, Mexico, Central America, and in South America as far south as Peru. It has also been introduced to New Zealand and some countries in Europe, such as Finland and the Czech Republic.

The white-tailed deer is tan or brown in the summer and grayish brown in winter. It has white on its throat, around its eyes and nose, on its stomach and on the underside of its tail. The male has antlers. Males weigh between 150 and 300 pounds and females weigh between 90 and 200 pounds.

The white-tailed deer lives in wooded areas. In some areas, deer overpopulation is a problem. Gray wolves and mountain lions used to be predators of the white-tailed deer and helped keep their population under control. But because of hunting and human development, there are not very many wolves and mountain lions left in some parts of North America.

White-tailed DeerSometimes a bobcat or a coyote will kill a young deer, but people and dogs are now the deer's main predator. Because there are not many natural predators, deer populations can sometimes grow too large for their environment and deer can starve to death. In rural areas, hunters help control deer populations, but in suburban and urban areas hunting is often not allowed and deer populations can grow out of control.

White-tailed DeerOther things can change deer populations. Disease and parasites like lice, mites and roundworms can weaken or kill deer. Young deer and old deer often get sick and die, especially in the winter. Winter is a dangerous time for deer. Their long narrow legs and pointed hooves make it hard for them to move around in the snow and ice and it is easier for predators like dogs to catch them.

White-tailed DeerDeer and people are living closer to each other because of human development and growth in deer and human populations. Because humans and deer often share a habitat, there can be problems for both of them. When a deer's habitat becomes smaller because of human development, deer will often eat food from gardens. Deer need to cross roads to look for food and water and are sometimes struck by cars. People can also catch a sickness called Lyme Disease from the deer tick.

When a white-tailed deer is alarmed, it may stomp its hooves and snort to warn other deer. It may also "flag" or raise its tail and show its white underside. When a mother deer is running, this white underside can help her fawns follow her.

White-tailed Deer White-tailed deer are very good runners. They can run at speeds of up to 30 mile an hour. They are also good leapers and swimmers.

White-tailed deer mate in November in the northern parts of their range and in January or February in the southern parts of their range. The female has one to three fawns after about six months after mating. Fawns are reddish-brown at birth with white spots that help camouflage them. They can walk at birth and forage for food a couple of days later. They are weaned at about six weeks.

White-tailed DeerThe mother leaves her fawns well-hidden for hours at a time while she feeds. If she has more than one fawn, she hides them in separate places. While they are waiting for their mother to return, the fawns lay on the ground with their heads and necks stretched out flat on the ground. This makes it harder for predators to find them. Female fawns may stay with their mother for two years, males usually leave after a year.

Sep 27, 2009

Caper Flowers

Botanical name: Capparis spinosa Linn.
Family name: Capparidaceae

Indian names are as follows:
Punjabi:Kaur, Barar

A spiny shrub of straggling habit, a little less than a meter high, it is valued chiefly for its flower buds, which are picked and sold as `Capers`. It may be grown as a greenhouse plant in colder areas and outdoor in warmer parts. It is deciduous with almost round leaves. The most conspicuous feature of the fleeting white flowers is the mass of purple-tipped stamens.

The tiny buds open when the sun rises and close when it sets. Once cut, they remain closed. The capers are graded on copper sieves, and the smaller the bud the higher the grade. Usually, they are cured and prepared in salt. The bitter salty taste is epicurean, and very few capers are necessary to give the added flavor sought for.

Caper Flowers and budsCommercial European capers are the pickled flower buds of the plant. They have an acrid, burning taste, and are considered useful in scurvy. In India, the buds and also the fruits, are similarly taken.

Flower buds contain a glycoside, rutin, which on acid hydrolysis gives rhamnose, dextrose and querctin. On hydrolysis, by the enzyme rutinase, it yields the sugar rutinose and quercetin. The former, on acid hydrolysis, gives rhamnose and dextrose. Flower buds contain about 4% pentosans on dry basis. They also contain rutic acid, pectic acid, a substance with garlic odor, a volatile emetic constituent and saponin.

Many European and American cooks use capers most expertly. Fish and meat sauces are especially delicious with a few capers added; and as a garnish for cold roasts and salads, capers are unequalled in flavor. Many of the famous Italian dishes are well known for the taste because of use of spices appropriately including capers. Besides, capers are also used for flavoring pickles and relishes; caper sauce with boiled mutton is a great favorite worldwide.

The fruits though edible, are not eaten raw, except as an appetizer in East India. The dried pericarp is of great value for its delicate taste and flavor. The dried rind possesses antiseptic properties. The rind contains 30% acid (calculated as citricacid) on the dry basis. It is used in medicines for ailments such as rheumatism, rickets, and enlargement of spine and for treating animal disorders. The dried rind also finds use in polishing gold and sliver and for coagulating rubber latex. On commercial scale, the concentrates of the dried rind are manufactured largely capturing the flavor of the dried fruit.

Caper SeedsCaper seeds yield 34 to 36% of a pale yellow oil. Its Iodine value reported to be 115 to 125. It is basically a unsaturated oil, with fatty acid composition as given below:

Oleic:42 to 46 %
Linoleic:45 to 51 %
Palmitic and Stearic:7 to 9 %.

The process of harvesting or picking of caper is easy and simple and can be done by ordinary village folks. Grading of capers after picking can be done easily with the help of copper sieves.

Gul Mohr flower

The beautiful flower Gul Mohr attracts the eyes of almost everyone whosoever passes under the tree. The Scientific name of Gul Mohr is Delonix Regia. The family of this flower is Leguminosae and its sub-family is Coesalpineae. Almost all the trees, shrubs and climbers of native and warm countries belong to this sub-family and it also contains some of the most beautiful trees in the world. The origin of the trees is Madagascar, from where trees were taken to Mauritius about 1824. Seeds from these trees were then taken to England and now it is to be found in most tropical countries.

The name of the flower `Gul Mohr` differs in various languages. When it is called `Gul Mohr` in Hindi, its called as `Rakta Chura` in Bengali. The Tamil people call it as `Mayarum` and it is `Alasippu` in Malayalam. `Shima sankesula` is the name in which the Telugu people call it and the Sinhalese call it as `mal Mara`. But it`s famously known as `Peacock Flower` or `Flamboyant` all over the world as it is called so in English.

Gul Mohr TreeThe Gul Mohr is amongst those rare trees in India that are extra-ordinarily striking and ornamental. When the month of April comes, everyone just wonder about thinking how a bare, skinny tree that is standing on a dry and hard earth can create such a glorious wealth of bloom. Just a few days after the first blossom appears, the whole tree starts shining with various splashes of crimson and orange. In the Month of May, the soft, whitish, rich green of the new plants spread out and the tree develops a light and soft beauty. The long ugly, black pods and bare, gray branches stays hidden and the spreading sunshade of green lace and cherry blossoms get the loveliest beauty. There is always a rich variety in the shades of crimson and cherry. Some trees become almost orange and some other take a deep red shade. All the variety of colour has their respective admirers.

Gul Mohr FlowerThe usual size of the Gul Mohr flower is 12.5 cm across. The large ones put up with numerous, combination of blooms and roundish drowsy buds. The design of the flower is somewhat uncommon. Five thick crimson sepals curve back and display their lime-green lining and bright yellow rims from the spaces between them. If you spread out the five spoon-shaped, curvy and crinkle-edged petals you will find one of them is larger. Its-white or yellow center splashes with scarlet. Ten long stamens spread and curve from the center. After the fall of the flowers the soft, green pods make their appearance. But soon they become hard and black, they are the long ugly straps hanging amongst the leaves. They wait there throughout the year for the next year`s flowers to appear. These leaves are just like those of several other trees.

Branch of Gul MohrAnother very interesting thing about Gul Mohr is that one can very easily recognize it even when there is no flower in it. Because of its smooth, gray limbs and the characteristic formation of outward spreading branches and leaves, it becomes easily recognizable. Gul Mohrs are some excellent light-shade trees that can grow up to about 12m. People normally plant them in such avenues where most of the trees are of same height and there they form a superb landscape. The advantage of the trees is that they grow readily from seed, although they often take a long time to germinate. As a garden tree it has some disadvantages as well. That are the limbs of these trees break easily in strong winds and that grass and other plants do not grow well beneath it.

However, there is some controversy over the meaning of the name of this popular tree. There are some people who say the word is `Mohr` that means peacock, while `Gul` is flower. To some others the word is `Mohur` that is coin. But everybody does agree with the matter that the name `Gold Mohur`is not adequate in illustrating the aesthetic appeal of the flower. In fact the most attractive of its names are those given by the French that are `feur de Paradis` and `Flamboyant`.

Sep 25, 2009

Iris plant

Iris is a genus of between 200–300 species of flowering plants with showy flowers. It takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species. As well as being the scientific name, iris is also very widely used as a common name; for one thing, it refers to all Iris species, though some plants called thus belong to other closely related genera. In North America, a common name for irises is flags, while the plants of the subgenus Scorpiris are widely known as junos, particularly in horticulture. It is a popular garden flower in the United States.

The genera Belamcanda (blackberry lily), Hermodactylus (snake's head iris), Neomarica (walking iris) and Pardanthopsis are sometimes included in Iris.

The genus is widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone. Their habitats are considerably varied, ranging from cold and montane regions to the grassy slopes, meadowlands and riverbanks of Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa, Asia and across North America.

A wild Iris prefers the wet soil of the flats during the Spring and the periodic rainfalls during the summer making the climate in Alaska, USA ideal for the wild Iris flowers. The sepals on the wild Iris are deeply veined with a yellow white signal and the petals never exceed the base of the sepals.

The Eklutna flats are tidal influenced wetlands and the wild Iris grows to be about 60 centimeters in height. With this mass of flowers growing to these heights, the landscape of the flats is extremely colorful during the Spring.

Wild Iris (Iris setosa) in full bloom in bright sun on flats near Eklutna, Alaska, in June.

Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix)

There are around 170 species of the honey eater variety recorded in Australia. As the name suggests, most from this variety are nectar feeding birds. However, nectar only makes up a small proportion of the Helmeted Honeyeater's diet.

The Helmeted Honeyeater is endemic to Victoria, and is also the only bird species to be endemic to the state. For this reason, the Helmeted Honeyeater became Victoria's bird emblem in 1971.

The Helmeted Honeyeater is listed as Threatened in Schedule 2 of Victoria's Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Helmeted Honeyeater is approximately 20 cms in length (tail to tip). They range in colour from black to olive-brown to yellow. They have a yellow crest which sets them apart from other honeyeaters.

Currently (2006) the Helmeted Honeyeater is listed as critically endangered. There were only 50 of this species left in 1990. The numbers are steadily increasing, but the species is still critically endangered.

The honeyeater is currently found in a captive release colony in the Bunyip State Park Reintroduction Site. They also inhabit a very small range between Ferntree Gully and Yellingbo in the wild.

The diet of the Helmeted Honeyeater consists of mainly manna. Manna is a sap-like substance produced by trees through the bark and at points of injury. They also feed on nectar from eucalypt flowers, berries from the prickly currant bush, insects, spiders and lerps.

Breeding occurs from August to February. The gestation period is two weeks where 2 to 3 young are born.

Castilleja miniata (Indian Paintbrush)

Latin Name: Castilleja miniata, etc.
Common Name: Indian Paintbrush, Red Indian Paintbrush, Harsh Paintbrush, Cliff Paintbrush, Small-flowered Paintbrush
Family Name : Figwort

The Northwest is a great place to catch several types of paintbrush. They are known for their bright red color, although it can vary from orange to scarlet to purple to even white or yellow. Their color comes from dense, bright bracts that surround the actual flower.

The Northwest is home to a wide variety of paintbrush, and identifying the different variations can require a good deal of examination. Unfortunately, the paintbrush shown in these photos are difficult to identify. Nevertheless, as you scroll through them, information about the different species can be found. These pictures were taken at Elk Meadows, Elk Cove, and Dog Mountain.

The Paintbrush evoked the Native American legend of a young brave who tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. Frustrated that he could not match the brilliance of nature, he ask for guidance from the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit gave him paintbrushes laden with the colors he so desired. With these, he painted his masterpiece and left the spent brushes in fields across the landscape. These brushes sprouted the flowers we now so wonderfully love!

The most common paintbrush in the Northwest is the Common Red Paintbrush, aka Giant Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata). Its upper leaves are mostly whole (i.e. not lobed). Closely related to the Red Paintbrush are a variety of niche paintbrushes that are similar to the common paintbrush (e.g. Seashore Paintbrush and Alpine Paintbrush). Another showy variation is the Small-flowered Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora), found at alpine and sub-alpine meadows. C. parviflora is characterized by its upper leaves, which are divided into 3-5 lobes, the whole plant stands no more than a foot tall. In the North Cascades, the C. parviflora's bracts can even be white.


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