Monday, June 17, 2013

The effects of herbicides

About a month ago I noticed something odd about our Redbud (Cercis) trees.  The newest leaves were opening up all shriveled, deformed and partially yellow.  I had not closely watched leaves unfurling in the past, but I was pretty sure they opened as little hearts folded in half and just grew larger with time.  They didn't start out as these strange, malformed stingrays.

deformed Redbud leaves
Deformed Redbud leaf
deformed Redbud leaves
Deformed leaves
I asked some of my expert plant friends about this, especially those that live near me and are familiar with Redbuds.  One of them said that it looked like damage from herbicides.  I was pretty sure it couldn't be from herbicides since I don't use them myself and because these trees are in my backyard, which is pretty well surrounded by bushes and trees.  Also, the nearest house to these trees has been vacant for 7 years now.  None of our immediate neighbors have the immaculate monoculture lawns of those who spray their lawns with weed killers and fertilizers.  I did notice that the tree in the front yard across the street from our house also had the same pattern with their newest leaves, although to a lesser extent.

healthy Redbud leaves
Regular, healthy leaves
More recently the trees have been putting out regular leaves again, leaving a very clear set of affected leaves along each branch.  I took more photos and sent these to my friends.  The same friend who had guessed herbicide damage found an excellent article on Redbuds that explains they are very sensitive to pre-emergent herbicides, the kind people spray on their lawns just before the grass comes out in the spring.  The photos were eerily similar (see page 6).

deformed Redbud leaves
Deformed leaves surrounded by healthy growth
It seems as though our trees are suffering from someone that sprayed their lawn down the street, most likely on a windy day.  It's not surprising that a chemical whose purpose is to kill weeds would also negatively impact other plant life.  I like my yard to look nice - grass not too high and not too many weeds - but I have never given in and hired one of those companies to spray my lawn.  This is mostly because of the cost, but also because I don't like chemicals being used when they aren't necessary.  Now I have an additional reason to dislike these unnecessary chemicals.  The good news is that the damage is limited to some ugly leaves - at least as far as I can tell.  Hopefully there isn't enough of this being used that it is getting into our water supply at high concentrations.  We stopped drink tap water a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 OKC Cacti and Succulent Show

Christie, Myla and I attended the Central Oklahoma Cacti and Succulent show and sale in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago.  This is a really good annual show with tons of plants for sale and a small show area for nice specimens.  Even though I am not mired in the cacti/succulent hobby, there are plenty of plants that are tempting and others that are neat to just view from outside looking in.

Investigating a Euphorbia
Checking out a neat Euphorbia

My pretty girls with a blooming Adenium

It was also a lot of fun to surround the little one with plants again.  She is going to be quite used to spending time in gardens and plant shows.

A neat Euphorbia

Another neat Euphorbia

As always, there were hundreds of different Euphorbia.  I was tempted to buy a couple, but I restrained myself.  In the end, I only bought a single plant, Stapelia flavopurpurea, which fit my qualifications of being a good value, already rooted (I'm not good at rooting cacti/succulents from cuttings), and already fits in one of my collection niches.  The plant has a couple of small buds, so I hope to share some bloom pictures in the next month.

Tray of starter plants.

There were many trays of very reasonably priced starter plants. You could start a collection on a limited budget and get a nice variety of plants.

Adenia spinosa

Haworthia truncata

Haworthia truncata flowers

Sometimes it is confusing to me why certain plants are included in the cacti/succulent hobby.  For instance, how does the beautiful prize-winning Operculicarya (below) qualify as a cacti or succulent?  I think this hobby grouping is loosely defined, unlike many other plant societies (Orchids, Begonias, Aroids, for instance), which are specific taxonomic families.

Operculicarya decaryi

Trichocereus bridgesii monstrose

In the assorted monsters category I found the Trichocereus (above), reminiscent of the graboids from Tremors or the asteroid worm creature (exogorth) that tries to eat the Millennium Falcon. Also there was the strange show plant, the hybrid Euphorbia GH211 (below), which could have been in any number of Sci-Fi movies.  Just imagine a crowd of screaming people running away as it trudges down the street, maybe devouring a dog that couldn't get away fast enough.  Yes, it has definitely been in a movie or two.

Euphorbia GH211 hybrid

It seems this annual show is going to be a fixture for me.  I was told that next year's show is going to be even bigger and held at a larger venue.  My name is on the mailing list, so I should be notified as it approaches.  I look forward to it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trip Report: Miscellany in Delhi

I got to spend a week in New Delhi, India in April.  I didn't have a lot of free time outside of my work obligations, but I spotted some interesting plants here and there.  The part of town I was in was very green, with trees everywhere.  Even still, with India being highly vegetarian, I probably ate more plants than I saw.

My hotel had some nice palm trees on the grounds.  When I think of India palm trees aren't the first plants that come to mind - especially far from the coast.  However, I know very little about Indian flora.

fishtail palm
Caryota urens, Fishtail Palm

Phoenix roebellini growing in a container.  Notice the white flowers.

palm inflorescence
Close-up of Phoenix roebellini flowers.

There was a beautiful lotus pond at the hotel.  In the morning and early afternoon the flowers were open.  By the heat of the afternoon they would close.

Lotus pond
Lotus pond at the hotel

My hotel also had  a collection of bonsai trees.

bonsai Ficus
Ficus bonsai at my hotel

I walked about a mile from the hotel to the Lodhi Gardens.  Along the way I passed the India Islamic Cultural Centre, where there was a nice aroid (maybe Epipremnum) growing on the trunk of a deceased tree.

Probably an Epipremnum

The Lodhi Gardens is a public park where a lot of families and friends congregate to just enjoy the outdoors.  Inside the gardens are several tombs and a mosque, beautiful old buildings dating back to the 1400s.

Lodhi Gardens
Tombs in the Lodhi Gardens

Ficus religiosa
A tenacious Ficus religiosa taking root in the cracks of an old tomb. Hopefully someone will yank it out before it turns this tomb into a pile of rocks.

Lodhi Gardens
Sunset at the Lodhi Gardens

I wandered around the gardens until sunset, taking photos and enjoying the hot weather.

Lodhi Gardens
Beautiful Cannas in front of a beautiful tomb

Bamboo stand
Stands of bamboo

Agave babies
Agave plants forming on the bloom stalk of a parent plant

Many of the trees in the park were tagged with their species names, including this Cinnamomum camphora.

Cinnamomum tree
Cinnamomum camphora at Lodhi Gardens

There were many interesting birds in the park and a large placard that identified some of them.  I identified Parakeets, Common Mynah, and House Crow.

bird identification chart
Placard of birds that can be found in the gardens

House Crow - Corvus splendens
House crow (Corvus splendens)

Within the grounds of Lodhi Gardens is the "National Bonsai Park." Apparently it closes earlier in the day, so I wasn't able to go inside.

National Bonsai Park at Lodhi Gardens

Down the street from Lodhi Gardens is the Safdarjung Tomb, which is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture.  It looks a bit like the Taj Mahal.  On the grounds was a beautiful fl0wering tree native to Madagascar.

Safdarjang tomb
Safdarjung Tomb in Delhi

Delonix regia
Beautiful flowers of Delonix regia, a Madagascan native.

On the walk back to the hotel I passed a tree with interesting flowers hanging from inflorescences under the canopy at eye level.  It was dusk and my camera battery was dead, so I had to use my phone camera with flash, which resulted in a less than stellar picture.

Kigelia africana
Flowers of Kigelia africana

Some friends helped me identify this tree as Kigelia africana, the Sausage Tree.  I have seen these trees at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, with their large seed pods that look like sausages, but I had not seen them in bloom before.

I really enjoyed my limited leisure time in Delhi and I hope to get to visit India again some day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trip Report: Iris Gardens at Will Rogers Park

The Oklahoma Orchid Society show and sale takes place at the Will Rogers Park in Oklahoma City.  While we were there for the orchid show, we decided to wander around the park a little.  The Oklahoma Iris Society maintains a nice Iris Gardens that was in full bloom for our visit.  All of the plants were neatly labeled so we knew what we were viewing.

Greatest Show On Earth

Act Surprised


Rayos Adentro

There were probably about 35 varieties in bloom.  This last one was Christie's favorite.


This has been a good year for our own little Iris garden at home.  We might have to add a variety or two for new colors next year.  This variety, Splurge, would be a good candidate.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Local orchid show

My local orchid club, Oklahoma Orchid Society, held our annual show and sale on Mother's Day weekend.  I took off work on Friday to help set up and then ventured back on Saturday with Christie and Myla to enjoy the show.  It was a small show, as usual, but nice.

my girls
Enjoying her first orchid show, laughing with mommy.

I carried Myla around while Christie took photos for me.  First, I'll show off the Dendrobium.

Dendrobium lawesii
Dendrobium lawesii being sold at one of the vendor tables.

Dendrobium lawesii
Dendrobium lawesii - different color variant - also being sold.

Dendrobium Aridang x Burana Sundae
Dendrobium Aridang x Burana Sundae

Miniature, deciduous, upright Dendrobium
Miniature, deciduous, upright Dendrobium

Nice purple Dendrobium

pendant, deciduous Dendrobium
Nice pendant, deciduous Dendrobium, profusely blooming

A couple of nice Cymbidium.

Cymbidium unregistered hybrid
An unregistered cascading hybrid Cymbidium

Cymbidium Little Black Sambo
Cymbidium Little Black Sambo, upright and very dark

Miscellaneous other plants.

Laelia hybrid. I love this color and the faint pattern on the lip.

huge Cattleya
Very happy Cattleya

Anguloa hohenlohii x Ida locusta
Anguloa hohenlohii x Ida locusta. Very interesting primary intergeneric hybrid.

Pleurothallis penelops
Pleurothallis penelops. Awesome species that looks very similar to Pleurothallis dilemma.

Dendrochilum aurantiacum
Large, mounted specimen of Dendrochilum aurantiacum

There were a total of eleven plants pulled out for AOS judging (including the one pictured above).  One of those eleven plants (a Paphiopedium) was awarded an HCC.