Saturday, December 29, 2012

A visitor

Unidentified Crab Spider
This little lady was found laying in wait on some mounted plants.  Due to her color, she is nearly invisible when she is curled up on the back of a piece of cork.  On the front, she is more visible.  I was unable to figure out what species she is, but due to body type and her habit of sitting down and folding her legs up so that she looks like a wee spot of mud on the cork tells me she is a crab spider.  These are hunting spiders, like jumpers, and don't weave webs.  Crab spiders are also often called flower spiders, as many species are colored to blend in well on flowers, and prefer to hide among petals to wait for a chance to catch bugs.

To see more cool bugs and learn about them, I recommend visiting What's That Bug?

I hope she eats stink bugs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays

Aloe barbadensis (vera)

We like an alternative Christmas tree.  Every year, one or two unlucky plants get pulled for ornament duty.  :)

I believe this to be Aloe barbadensis, or some near similar hybrid.  It came to me without a tag.  Its a large, beastly plant, and I have divided out many pups from it over the years in a vain attempt to manage its size.  The normal blooming season for these would be around early Spring, attracting hummingbirds if it was outside.  However, frequently this guy blooms for me in the late fall, soon after it comes inside.  I assume the sudden change from exposure to temperatures of 45 or 50F (7-10C) overnight to constant 68 (20C) makes it think spring has come early.  That scape is nearly 5 feet high (150cm), but that includes the height of the pot. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paph concolor v chlorophyllum

Paph. concolor v. chlorophyllum 'Buttercup'
Responding to an OGD post regarding a request for Paph concolor photos, I dug up what I had to share.  This is a photo of a plant formerly in my collection.

Yes, sadly, formerly.  I lost it when I ended up with a resistant, rampant mealybug infestation in a stand of paphs.  I finally destroyed them rather than continuing to spray, as the best I was able to do was keep it in check.  It was a liability.  So after a couple years of fighting it and keeping the plants isolated, I decided that rather than risk sharing such pests with anyone who got plants from me, I should put everyone who was infected into a black plastic bag.  It still makes me ill to think about it.  I had several very nice things in there.

This, kids, is why some people quarantine newcomers.  I didn't, and I paid for it.

But back to the plant.  Paph concolor is a lovely species, with butter yellow flowers and lovely, thick, crystalline tessellated foliage.  It and things like it really love calcium, and I always thought my success with them was a result of having hard water.  (See?  There is an up-side to hard water.)

The irony of this situation is that this flower smells like pesticide.  Not everyone can pick it up, its faint, and also, easy to mistake for pesticide residue.  However, this plant bloomed *before* the major infestation began, and so nothing else was stinky at the time.

I maintain that a lot of plants have some fragrance and we never hear about it.  People are convinced "Paphiopedilums have no fragrance", so they never check.  But I have come across several that are.  So don't feel silly, sniff every flower to see if you can detect something that someone else missed.