Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tasty Fruit

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In the World Botanical Garden there were some fruits on the ground along the pathway, so in characteristic unsupervised fashion, we decided to try one. It looked like a grapefruit, it smelled like a grapefruit,but, O Man, it tasted like all the sourness of 400 grapefruit rolled into one.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Noni or Indian Mulberry


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This small tree with large glossy leaves was important in Polynesian medicine to treat muscle and joint pain. The leaves were placed on the affected area with heated stones and the wax from the leaves were massaged into the skin. it grows primarily in the coastal areas. In fact there were several near where we went snorkeling. This is definitely not an edible fruit. I found one on the ground and was thinking about biting it till I got a whiff of it. Phew!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Skeletonized Leaves


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I am not sure what kind of tree this is, but I am sure that I have never seen leaves this completely skeletonized in nature before. I suspect this was done by an insect, maybe larvae? Beautiful,yes?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes National Park

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The walk to the Thurston lava Tube (named for the man who discovered it) goes through a rainforest, and it was definitely raining when we visited. Those white spots in the picture are rain drops (clumps?). The mouth of the lava tube was beautifully adorned with ferns growing naturally. The tube was huge-about 12 feet tall and wide. I don't know how long it was, but long enough to have a curve in it and require lights. There was another stretch you could go in, but it required a flash light. It was amazing to think of a river of lava flowing through this tube. There are any number of these traveling from the crater to the ocean. As lava leaves an eruption it travels in channels and can form an actual tube as the lava to the outside hardens.
A pretty good video of a walk thru the tube can be seen here

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bamboo Orchid

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This bamboo orchid is the only native orchid I saw in Hawaii. The only other orchids I saw were Cattelyas and Dendrobiums that had been attached to trees. I also saw bromeleads treated in this manner. There were quite a few of these bamboo orchids blooming on the trail up to the caldera. The sign pointed out that no trees were growing this close to the caldera because the ground was just too hot to allow deep tree roots.There were lots of grasses and other small shrubby things, just no trees.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Uluhe Fern

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This fern will grow in sun or shade, but it's most interesting characteristic is its bifurcating branching. Each frond splits into two more fronds and each of these develop two more fronds. In this way the fern is able to crawl almost everywhere, including climbing trees. It is important in controlling erosion as it can grow on vertical hillsides. It is reported to be a hiker's nightmare, with its vine-like growth and prickly stems. Additionally it can reach 10 feet in height, so be advised: this plants may be worse than doghobble as far as getting through it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Henna Tattoos

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While we were stuck in Mobile last weekend we did go to Bel-Air Mall and I found out I really was not getting out enough. There were several stalls in the mall that had stuff I had never seen in a mall before. One was offering these Henna tattoos. Technically these are not really tattoos but skin decorations and are properly called mehndi. The pigment is put on top of the skin instead of under the skin and is not permanent. It can last from 2 weeks to 2 months. This type of skin decoration is usually done on the palms and feet and originated in India where it is used in the marriage ceremony. The pigment is made from plant material. In recent years sometimes synthetic dye is added to the henna paste to give a black color in contrast to the reddish brown of henna.It can cause a severe allergic reaction that may result in death.
Other stalls were offering teeth whitening and back massage (10 minutes for $12). There was a stall selling what appeared to be African carved pieces. they may have been made in China. I am not knowledgeable enough to know, but they were cute. So maybe they were not authentic.
This sand sculpture was a mall decoration and I liked it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cup of Gold at Akaka falls

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I saw this Cup of Gold vine growing over a hillside at Akaka Falls. I mean, it was HUGE. The flower itself can be 5-7 inches across and 9 inches deep. It is invasive in Hawaii, and it's easy to see how it can smother everything in it's path. It had literally covered a hillside. I had wanted to give this plant a try for years, but after reading about it, I decided that it would probably get too big. Was I ever right! I did read that it can survive down to 20 degrees. Maybe with protection.... Naw, it would probably turn out to be another kudzu.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Akaka and Umauma Falls


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Hawaii has many beautiful waterfalls, not unexpectedly as there are mountains and rain forests.The triple falls are Umauma Falls in the world Botanical Garden,. The tall one is Akaka.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ground Orchid

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Last weekend I purchased an orchid from Southern Homes in Montgomery, AL. When I saw it was only $10, I grabbed it. Where can you get an orchid for that price that is blooming! And at Southern Homes, too. I have done some research on it since I brought it home and found out it has a horrible name--Spathoglottis. It sounds like it might be a throat condition. This is a terrestrial orchid of tropical climes so I will not be growing it in the ground here in Alabama. As near as I can tell, it probably originated in the Phillipines or somewhere in there. This pot seems to have several plants in it, so that is a definite plus.

These are Betilla, another ground orchid. I bought these from some cheap mail order place maybe as long ago as 30 years.There were probably 3 to 5 bulbs in the beginning. They die back in the fall and sit in these pots without water till they start new growth in February. They come up ready to bloom.. These are potted in regular potting soil. A couple times I have tried them in the ground, and although they came back one year, they did not bloom and the foliage usually gets cut down by frost because they come out too early. Someone in Auburn told me they had them in their yard where they bloomed. And I do remember when Village Arbors was in business, they had them in the ground. I guess it is a little too cold out here in the country.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rainbow Eucalyptus

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This is a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree trunk. I guess you can see why it's called that. This is to remind me of all the simple beautiful things that surround me everywhere.

I have had one daffodil to bloom so far. The rest are just sitting there with tight pointed buds waiting for the least bit of warmth before they elongate and open. I admit that I can hardly wait. The crocus are not waiting though; I have lots of the lavender ones blooming every day the sun shines. These started out in the flower bed around the oak, but now they are beginning to spread out into the surrounding grass. The secret to their creep out of the bed is due to my careless weeding, I am sure. I have some old timey purple butterfly bush in that bed and every couple years I pull up all I can find and the bulbs come out with the butterfly bush roots. I find this is an effective strategy for dealing with any plant that spreads too easily but that I want to keep. Every couple of years pull it all out. In the case of this Buddelia which spreads by runners, and also with perennial ageratum, I still keep enough to satisfy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bamboo (and O yeah- Snow)

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This bamboo from the world botanical garden has beautiful stems, but it also made a light sound when the wind moved it. It sounded like bamboo wind chimes (who woulda guessed?)
The snow this past weekend put a loop in our plans. We were headed to Baton Rouge to the wedding of a friend's son. We left on Thursday night in hopes of beating the weather, but instead ran smack dab into it. We stopped in Mobile Thursday night and woke up Friday to the news that Baton Rouge was snowed in. The airport was closed, etc. Although only a scant half inch fell in Mobile, the farther west you went, the worse it got. I was very sorry to miss the wedding as I had really looked forward to it. The wedding was at 9AM in the Natural History Museum to be followed by the reception and then everyone going to the Flamingo parade at noon. I planned to wear my pink wig and carry my pink watering can pocketbook. What a missed chance!!So reluctantly we stayed another night in Mobile and made our way home on Saturday. We spent the time in Mobile fruitfully. I read, napped, and watched TV. Total decadence. Forced rest, but I enjoyed it. I finished reading my library book A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova. It is an autobiography about growing up in Russia in the late 1950's and 1960"s. It is a really good book.
I was glad to get back home and find out that everything was Ok. The power did not go out and leave me with no greenhouse heat, the snow did not accumulate on the greenhouse and collapse it. All is well. It's good to keep perspective on these things.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Breadfruit or 'ula

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Breadfruit was probably brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the first Polynesians who traveled 2000 miles across the ocean in canoes. The plant is grown from suckers and is not at all salt tolerant. This must have been a difficult journey without plastic bags. It was used for food, medicine, and wood, so it is easy to see why people traveling to a new land would want to bring a start of such a plant.

BEWARE of the DURIAN FRUIT! - Free videos are just a click away">This looks a little bit like a breadfruit but is called a durian and although it is loved by people in the Pacific basin, westerners on the whole find it repulsive.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lava Shapes and Colors




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There were lots of opportunities to stop along the road and see different lava fields and forms. Not knowing the different kinds did not stop me from marveling at the strange and beautiful shapes and colors. The hole in the bottom picture probably occurred when lava flowed around a tree and hardened. The tree ultimately burned also but the mold of it's trunk was left behind.

Foamy Lava

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This is another form of lava. It appears foamy and in fact it is almost as fragile as foam. The slightest touch can cause it to crumple. It is amazing to me that this is a rock, in composition not that much different from all the other lava, but so different in form.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


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This beautiful purple flower grows in my garden and blooms in the late summer and fall. It has some common names that also apply to other plants, so it is best to call it by it's real name: Tibouchina. It is a perennial upright plant and when the petals fall around its feet it is a sight to remember. But in Hawaii, it is a different story. It is an invasive plant that threatens native flora. This shot was taken along a roadside and as you can see, it has no trouble competing with the other vegetation.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

When we visited Punaluu there were two sea turtles basking on the beach. The sign said they had only taken to doing this in recent years. They were resting there unmoving except for occasional eye movements the whole time we were strolling about. There are several black sand beaches in Hawaii, and even a green sand beach. To reach the green sand beach requires quite a hike, so we did not see it. The color of the sand is determined by the parent material, in this case black lava, but high amounts of olivine in the green beach lava makes the sand greenish. You can see the rough rocks at the edge of the water.Standing on the rise near the pavilion and looking out into the water it was possible to see several turtles in the water. Hannah counted about 20.
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