Sunday, January 26, 2020

Plant Story--Mountain Mahogany, Tough Little Tree

mountain mahogany, Cercocarpus montanus

Mountain mahogany, Cercocarpus montanus (rose family, Rosaceae) is a native shrub or small tree of the foothills of the Rockies and across the western U.S. It is not related to the tropical mahoganies (genus Swietenia, chinaberry family, Meliaceae) except in the sense that the common name reflects the color and luster of the wood.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Playing Cupid for the Double Coconut

double coconut Lodoica malvidica
World's largest seed: double coconut Lodoica malvidica 
see in Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu
The fitbit is for scale, but better is the dandelion at the top
of the seed. The seed is way bigger than a whole
dandelion plant.
I saw the double coconut, Lodoicea maldivica (palm family, Arecaceae) seeds, largest in the world--see previous post link--lying on the ground inside their cages at the Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu in April 2018.

I've seen seedling coconuts (Cocos nucifera); they send up a pretty dramatic set of first leaves.
Newly sprouted coconut palm, Cocos nucifera
Young coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, with four leaves
Note the coconut at the base
With the double coconuts, nothing seemed to be happening.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Plant Story--Double Coconut, World's Largest Seed

In April 2018, I visited Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, Hawaii, and saw this:
double coconut seed, April 2018
Double coconut (Lodoicea maldivica) seed, April 2018
A cage around a very large seed.

It was the double coconut, also called coco de mer (sea coconut), and Seychelles coconut, the largest seed in the world. Largest seed in the world!--of course I was interested. It is the seed of the palm Lodoicea maldivica (palm family, Arecaceae), a very rare plant endemic to the Secheylles. (Lodoicea is Latin for Louis, honoring King Louis XV of France, maldivica is because it was thought, incorrectly, to come from the Maldives.)

This post, Plant Story--The Double Coconut, is about the plant. The next post, Playing Cupid for the Double Coconut, gives the story behind the seed in the cage in 2018 and what I saw on my return  in 2019.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Looking at 2020

Happy New Year! 2020.

snow scene

I decided to make 2020 "the Year of 2020 Vision," reviewing my activities and all my stuff, asking if each is an active interest or something I think I might, maybe, do or use, sometime in the future. My possessions and surroundings should reflect my current self. The trick will be honest answers.

When I dial up 2020 Vision beyond the junk drawer, looking at my yard I find lots of ideas that I have carried over for years, to dust off and reconsider.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Plant Story--the Iconic Fireweed

fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium
fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium
Fireweed  is one of the most recognizable flowers of the Rocky Mountains. They are tall spikes of magenta flowers, easy to spot and to recognize.

But also forming glorious stands

fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Walking Beaches

"Life is a beach."That might have been my father's motto. A metalurgist, he became a serious amateur seashell collector, retired to Florida, and walked a lot of beaches.

I think about him whenever I walk beaches. And, looking back over the last decade, I've been on a bunch of beaches. For example, a beach in the Lesser Antilles:

swimming beach, Lesser Antiles
A lovely beach, Iles des Saintes, Lesser Antilles

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Plant Story--Black Pepper, Everyone's Spice

black pepper plant, Piper nigrum

Black pepper, Piper nigrum (pepper family Piperaceae) has been an important commodity for millennia. We get it as a dark powder, or if you have a pepper grinder, little round pepper corns.