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Winter white in the garden

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A brilliant blue sky perfectly sets off the charmof Euphorbia leucocephala, the littleChristmas flower. Call it little Christmas flower, snowbush or snowflake, or flor de leche, this shrub is in full glory now in the garden. Several together are dazzling in their showiness, especially when seen against a deep blue winter sky. Euphorbia leucocephala, a poinsettia relative, is as dependable as its red cousin when it comes to telling us the season. Delicate white bracts surround tiny green ...

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A red-letter Friday, not a black one

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wood ibis. Calathea Burle Marx. On the gorgeous day after Thanksgiving, not everyone was contributing to the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, but many were happily exploring the garden. As the Yayoi Kusama's delightful pumpkins were being set up near the arboretum, wood ibis were playing tag in a buttonwood by a lake and a soft-shell turtle swam next to shore to ogle us tourists. We found the red cassia (Cassia roxburghii) is in flower; the Christmas bush (Euphorbia leucocephala) is so...

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Rockin' lips and rollin' sepals

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's getting to be flowering season for an enormous group of orchids: bulbophyllums. These orchids are found throughout Southeast Asia, but turn up also in Africa, tropical America, even Australia. The number of species is something like 1,000, give or take. These Cirrohpetalum flowers look as if they're sticking out their tongues. A fascinating feature of many of the flowers is the motile or rocking lip. Cirrhopetalum is a section of the Bulbophyllum genus, but still is held by some to ...

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On the cusp of a new season at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eulophia alta, a terrestrialorchid, still in flower. Alligators were not in sight, but orchids were plentiful last weekend in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The November blue sky overhead was filled with the delicate sounds of warblers, periodic announcements from red-shouldered hawks and the occasional crank of an egret. We spotted Eulophia alta next to the boardwalk as we crossed the open, sunny prairie between pineland and cypress. Full of seedpods, the Eulophia's last flowers were damaged...

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Botanical art exhibition at Everglades National Park

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Artist Kathleen Konick-Moran has spent eight winters working as a volunteer at Everglades National Park to document rare and endangered orchids, bromeliads and other Everglades plants. Her art exhibit is now open and runs through the end of November at the Park's Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, 40001 State Rd. 9336 Homestead. Kathleen is a botanical illustrator, working in pencil, pen and ink and watercolor. A video about her work in the park and her art can be found on the Park's website ...

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Plants for the birds

Friday, October 30, 2009

The necklace pod is attractive tohummingbirds. Insect-eating birds, such as warblers, gnatcatchers, flycatchers and vireos, love wild tamarinds. And so that tree will be among the bird-attracting plants Leslie Veber's Jungle Garden is providing for Bird Day's plant sale. These little birds also are attracted to shortleaf fig, green buttonwood, satin leaf, firebush, wild sage and Florida privet, so these are going to be on sale, too. Leslie worked with Roger Hammer's list of...

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Sneak peek beneath a leaf

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One leaf of Anthurium clavigerum. I was prowling the rainforest the other day and saw an awesome leaf on Anthurium clavigerum. An epiphyte, this aroid possesses the largest leaf of any anthurium in Central America. With lobes so fanciful they appear to be separate leaflets, this single leaf can theoretically reach about seven feet across! As a big leaf fanatic, I have just found another desirable garden specimen. The swollen areas supporting the leaf blade allow the leaf to move. . The ...

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Flame thrower

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coming into flower in the rainforest: Ruellia chartacea. Called a "scandent shrub," Ruellia chartacea is setting little fires on the edge of the rainforest with its scarlet bracts and orange-gold flowers. It is sometimes called the red shrimp plant, and is in the same family as Brazilian red cloak, shrimp plant and wild petunia. After the gingers and heliconias have put away their flowers and while the begonias are saving up to form theirs, this shrub is one that will put some spark...

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Urban Oases bird project is proving fruitful

Monday, October 19, 2009

As we near the end of fall migration, birders who have been scouting Fairchild and Matheson Hammock since late August for important food plants for songbirds have come upon some surprises. Wild lime, soldierwood and the caimito, as well as its cousin satin leaf, are among the plants playing a large role in fueling birds heading south. A tropical catalpa and native and non-native figs in the Arboretum are also providing nourishment to such birds as black-throated blue warblers, parula ...

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Blooming right on time

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall is the time of year for delicate clusters of lavender flowers to appear on Guarianthe bowringiana, an orchid in the Cattleya alliance. Because of its seasonal blooming, it once was called Cattleya autumnalis. It is festooning the Conservatory's epiphyte tree and display room. A beautiful fall-blooming orchid, Guarianthe bowringiana is aneasy orchid for beginners. Gua or guadia is from the Aztec language and it means tree. Anthe is from Greek meaning flower. So understanding that, ...

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