Saturday, July 31, 2010

Monardella odoratissima-Mountain Monardella

There is a reason this plant is called "ordoratissima." It has a strong wonderful fragrance. Sometimes it seems to be a very clean mint smell, much like pennyroyal, other times it seems lemony. It is in the mint family, so having a strong smell is expected, but this one is especially nice. Grows in full sun to part shade. Easy to grow evergreen perennial sprawls on the ground in a picturesque manner. In bloom and for sale now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Euphorbia columnaris

At first glance, one might think it is a cactus, but it is a Euphorbia. It is one of those adaptation things. Plants that are exposed to the same dry conditions sometimes develop the same adaptations: the accordion fold that can expand and contract easily as the moisture is taken up and used up, the succulent habit, the spines. Aren't those "cow horn" spines cute? They are different from cactus spines, and the flowers are different from cactus flowers. This specimen is in bloom now in the Arid House at the UC Botanical Garden.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Junonia coenia--Common Buckeye

Finally, a butterfly in the butterfly blog! It is dead and in a spider web, but hey, at least it is something. And it didn't move, so it was easy to get a picture of it. This is the underside of the wing, but those orange blotches look just like the orange quote marks on the Common Buckeye, so it must be a buckeye. I have see quite a few flying lately, they seem to be a late season butterfly. I should go out and look for eggs and caterpillars. I have found that the caterpillars tend to hide in the dirt during the day, and walk up the seedheads at dusk. Maybe tonight, after I get done with work, I can go hunting.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Aristolochia californica

I found this leaf-roller in my pipevine today. I wonder if it is a Light Brown Apple Moth. Maybe I should rear it. It is about 1/2 inch at this point.

Lavatera assurgentiflora--Island Mallow

So many flowers on the island mallow now! I have seen flowers on it almost all year, but I usually see just a few at a time. I guess this is the time of heavy bloom. And I am guessing that this is the subspecies assurgentiflora because that is the one on which the petals fold back as they age. I love that deep magenta flower with the darker stripes. Cute little sigmas curling at the top. Very pretty!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Garden

Flowers are blooming in my garden, too: Crinum, passion flower, nasturtium, butterfly bush, and a rose. I gotta start looking for eggs because we are doing a show at the SF Botanical Garden August 7. I haven't seen many Gulf Fritillaries in my yard, even though I have a passion vine, so I think I am going to be scouting the neighborhood.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Desmodium elegans--Fabaceae

Beautiful pink flowers are blooming now on this bush at the UC Botanical Garden. I want to get a picture of it in the fall, when it turns to yellow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Damsel Fly

The damselflies are courting and mating in wet places at the UC Botanical Garden. They have a strange and wonderful copulation method. The male transfers sperm from the tip of his abdomen to a spot closer to the thorax. Then, he uses the claspers at the tip of his abdomen to grab onto a female. She bend her abdomen underneath herself and to the pocket of sperm the male hid away, thus forming a "wheel." Then, after the sperm is transferred to the female, he continues to hold onto her as she lays her eggs, so that other males don't have a chance. Talk about possessive!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The flowers on this Echinopsis at the UC Botanical Garden are big and beautiful. Looks like the ones on the bottom are blooming now, and the ones at the top, sticking out like spokes on a wheel, will bloom later. I didn't measure, but those flowers must be at least 4" across. It seems to do fine with our wet winters, although, as a cactus, this plant doesn't need too much water. Some species are small and good for growing inside, but this one is tall and impressive.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crinum bulbispermum

This one is easy to grow. Apparently it is widely available and has become naturalized in parts of the South. Large, pretty flowers are pink in this specimen, but can be white. It needs lots of sun and water. In Africa, where it is native, it is used medicinally for colds, rheumatism, varicose veins, and septic sores. It is also used to protect homes from evil. How could anything evil exist around this angelically beautiful flower?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hydrangea serrata

Another hydrangea is in bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden. Growing in full shade with pinkish lacecap-type flowers. Very delicate and pretty. This one is from Japan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hydrangea seemannii--Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea

This strong climber does wonders for some of the bare tree trunks at the UC Botanical Garden. It has shiny evergreen leaves and lovely white lacecap blooms. It has a long bloom season and the vine holds on to the flowers as they age, making a nice fall display. I will have to go back and get another picture.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teucrium marum

In addition to catnip, there is this plant called cat thyme, that some cats like even better! I like the growth patter: low-growing with spikes of magenta flowers held high. Very pretty and in bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Philadelphus lewisii--wild mock orange

In bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden: Philadelphus. I has lots of bright white flowers. Very fragrant and very pretty. Makes me think of weddings.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Saurauia madrensis

This plant is in the kiwi family, so it is not surprising that the fruits are supposed to be edible and very sweet. However, they are also small and seedy, so maybe they are not worth the trouble of picking them. I guess I don't have to worry about how much work it is to pick the fruit because, although they grow well in this climate, apparently they do not fruit. Very pretty plant with clusters of white flowers and big leaves with prominate veins. In bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eryngium paniculatum

I wouldn't put this in the carrot family at first glance, it doesn't have those flat-topped umbels like poison hemlock or sweet fennel. It also doesn't have those highly divided leaves like parsley or carrots. But it does have a parsely or celery sort of smell to it, so I guess it isn't too surprising. The leaves look more like those of an agave, spiky and sword-like. Rather striking structural form with low growing leaves and balls of flowers. And it makes a good dried flower. It is in several beds at the UC Botanical Garden, so maybe it is easy to grow in this climate. I couldn't find this one for sale online, but I did find Erngium yuccifolium, which is very similar. The common name of that one is "Rattlesnake Master." It is native to eastern North America and Indians used the root to combat rattlesnake venom.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lynothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius

The ironwood is in bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden. I love those white flowers with the orange center.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Magnolia dealbata

This magnolia is not like the ones I am used to: the deciduous ones with furry leaves and evergreen ones with leathery leaves. This one is briefly deciduous and has large thin leaves. In traditional Mexican folk medicine, this tree was used as a tranquilizer and anticonvulsant. Studies on mice in 2006 confirm that an extract of the plant has exactly those actions. Very pretty. I wonder why I don't see it in gardens around here.