Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aglaonema in bloom

One of my Aglaonemas has produced it's first inflorescence, and another is on the way.  This particular plant is not a flashy hybrid and I had some help deducing the name of Aglaonema commutatum v. maculatum f. maculatum. These older species Ags are not grown as often now, since there are so many different hybrids with silvery foliage that really stands out.  But I really like this plant and I'm happy to have the opportunity to see it flower.

Aglaonema commuatum v. maculatum f. maculatum inflorescence
This "bloom" is not called a flower, because it is actually a large collection of many flowers.  All Aroids have these complex blooms called inflorescences.  The center column is called the spadix and contains male flowers, female flowers and sterile flowers (in some genera).  In order for reproduction to take place, the pollen from the male flowers must reach the female flowers by a pollinator.  In some species, the female flowers are hidden within a chamber of the surrounding leaf, which is called the spathe.  I was able to capture a nice close-up so that you can see the female flowers, which are at the bottom of the spadix, but not hidden with this species.  The female flowers are distinct and easy to pick out right now, while the rest of the spadix just looks like a white blob.  The male and female flowers are mature at different times in order to ensure that the pollination takes place by a different plant (cross-breeding) so that genetic diversity continues.  Some species will allow for self-pollination, but this plant does not.  Eventually that white blog of a spadix will look a little more distinct as the male flowers become mature and produce pollen.

Detail of Aglaonema commuatum v. maculatum f. maculatum inflorescence
When successful pollination occurs, the flowers will turn into berries containing seed (infructescence).  These are usually brightly colored - white, yellow, orange or red - and will either fall off the spadix or be eaten by a bird or other animal that deposits the seed which can grow into a new plant.

If I have the chance to collect pollen from my male flowers, I will try to store it for use in pollinating a future flower from any of my other Aglaonemas.  A successful pollination could mean a new hybrid.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Plant Find: a new ginger

I purchased a ginger I had never seen before at Zone 9 Tropicals.  It is commonly called Golden Brush or Golden Ginger.  The scientific name is Burbidgea scheizocheila.  It has the typical growth habit of a gingers, but stays pretty short and is considered by some as a "dwarf" ginger.  The leaves are deep green on reddish purple stems.  The blooms are orangey-yellow.

Burbidgea scheizocheila

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Philodendron squamiferum

While on Grand Cayman Island last month, we stopped at a Burger King for a quick bite to eat and bathroom break.  I would normally consider a fast food restaurant an unlikely place to see a neat plant.

Philodendron squamiferum

But this wasn't any old Burger King.  This was a Burger King in Grand Cayman!  And there was a very nice Philodendron squamiferum inside.

Philodendron squamiferum petiole detail

The most distinguishing feature of P. squamiferum is the curly pubescens on the red petioles.  It is hard to mistake this plant for any other species.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trip Report: Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Over Thanksgiving my family did something a little out of the norm (for us) and went on a 7 day Caribbean cruise.  It was a wonderful trip and we got to spend time with lots of my family (10 of us in all).  When our ship docked at Cozumel, Mexico, Christie and I went on a shore excursion over to the mainland to visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum, just south of Playa del Carmen.

Tulum ruins on the Caribbean coast

The ruins were beautiful and interesting.  They are set right on the coast and it's just gorgeous.

Ruins along the Caribbean coastline
Black iguana
The grounds are covered with iguanas.  We probably saw 50 or more in the hour and a half that we were there.  One in particular, really wanted to pose for us.

Iguana posing on some warm rocks
Sea grape tree (Coccoloba uvifera)
In terms of plant life, there were a lot of Sea Grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera) all over the grounds.  Some were full-fledged trees, with regular trunks.  Others were growing more like shrubs or creeping along rock walls, having sprouted from a crack in the cliff face.

Sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) growing on cliff face near beach
Another common plant on the grounds was some species of terrestrial bird's nest Anthuriums. Many of these Anthurium had inflorescences.  I was taking a picture of one inflorescence that had a deformed branching spadix when I noticed that a praying mantis was perched on the spadix!  I wish I hadn't been in such a hurry and I could have gotten a little better picture.  But we were headed back to the bus and I didn't want to get left behind!

Praying mantis on an Anthurium inflorescence
There were a lot of these large leaved Anthuriums with undulate leaves and raised midribs.  The only other type of Anthurium I observed was the smaller specimen below.

Just outside of the entrance to the ruins park was a large bed of Sansevierias.

Christie with Sansevierias

I observed some other neat plants, but didn't know what they were.

Unknown flowering plant, possible Mandevilla

Tradescantia spathacea (thanks to mr_subjunctive) - Dense border plant with neat foliage

The plant above had really neat foliage and was growing all over the place as a border to all of the sidewalks.  The underside of the leaves is purple.

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler among the ruins
I also observed a couple of neat birds.  One was the tiny yellow-breasted bird hopping along a rock wall, pictured above.  The other almost looked like a peacock, with very colorful markings.  I had to take the picture (below) from a distance, so I didn't get as good of a shot as I would have liked.  [2011-01-30 Update:  Tony has informed me that this is likely the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata).]

Ocellated Turkey
Colorful mystery bird - Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
It was a great place to visit and I'm really glad we took this excursion.

Me and Christie at the Tulum Ruins

Friday, December 17, 2010

A bloom while orchid sitting

Whenever I am out of town for more than a couple of days, I will usually let my mother-in-law take my orchids and keep them watered and happy while I'm gone.  When they are out of town, I get to reciprocate by watering her orchids.   The other day when I went to water the orchids I was surprised to find one in full bloom!

Laeliocattleya Mari's Song

The tag on this orchid said Lc. Mari's Song.  I looked it up online and found that Lc. is the official abbreviation for the genus Laeliocattleya, which is a cross of the genera Laelia and Cattleya.  In my search I even found the genealogy of this particular cross.  It is fascinating to see the amount of work and time that has been spent on making crosses that eventually resulting in this large, colorful flower.

Here's a link to the genealogy, if you're interested.

And here's a link to the orchid genera abbreviations.