Sunday, February 23, 2020

Plant Story--Wisteria, Big Purple-Flowered Vines


My first memory of wisteria is of my father digging out a big plant, shaped like a small tree that was growing at the end of the driveway of our new house in Ohio. He disliked the way it came up well into the lawn. I liked it for its beautiful, fragrant flowers. And that is a good summary of Asian wisterias in the United States.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Plant Story--The Mysterious Star-lily (Sand-lily, Leucocrinum)

star-lily Leucocrinum montanum
star-lily, sand-lily, Leucocrinum montanum
Early in the spring on the Rocky Mountain Front Range, star-lilies (Leucocrinum montanum) bloom. They're neat little plants, very visible for a week or two, so early that your hike might be in sleet. Although common in some areas and easy to recognize, star-lilies are pretty mysterious.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Appreciating Mangroves

mangroves in Panama

Early in my career as an ecologist, I had the opportunity to explore a stand of mangroves. I haven't wanted to do it again.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Seventh Anniversary

sunrise over Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
Waikiki beach from the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant, dawn
(hau is sea hibiscus, Hibiscus tiliaceus, lanai is Hawaiian for a partly-roofed patio.
Note the flower on the banister and more on the sand beyond.
This week this blog celebrates its seventh anniversary. This is the 375th published post. That sounds like a lot, but there are 400,000 higher plant species and surely as many neat places in the world to visit...no shortage of topics.

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.