Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ornamental Vegies

This post is linked to Plantchaser , where he is celebrating his birthday and Blog Anniversary. He is successful and happy both in his professional life and bloglife, that he is giving raffle prizes to his constant followers. I wish he can treat me at least a plate of Brassica! hahaha!

BroccoliCauliflower, cultivar unknown
Source: www.en.wikipedia.org

I am very fond of eating broccoli (wonder why the famous person doesn't)! With mushroom or shrimp, onions and soy sauce, it already makes me very happy. It is also very easy and quick to prepare. Not all people eating broccoli knows it is a flower, not unlike cauliflower. The latter however, is very obviously a flower because it says so! We had a hearty laugh in the family recently because my young niece thought that cauliflower is the flower of broccoli. She even explained how it happened, in her very young mind, of course! Both broccoli and cauliflower share the same names, Brassica oleracea. To delineate identities the term variety was added to the Genus and species, however they are both variety botrytis. I wonder why the taxonomists don't delineate their names, when they really look very different. They can't even pass as fraternal twins (joke). Only the sprouting broccoli is different, it is called Brassica oleracea var italica.

Another interesting Brassica oleracea is variety acephala or the ornamental cabbage. It is also edible but mostly used as ornamental plants because of the many variation in leaf color. Many forms and hybrids are already available. The veins  are prominently displayed and leaves have shapes like elegant lace. It doesn't produce heads like the capitata group or the normal cabbage we eat as vegetables. The normal temperatures of the Philippines are not suitable for Brassica oleracea var acephala, except in some highlands like the Cordilleras and Tagaytay during colder months when temperatures get lower than 20 degrees Celsius. The following photos, I took in 2007, are produced in the highlands and brought to the lowlands for exhibit.

For further botanical classification of Brassica please refer to: http://www.ethnoleaflets.com/leaflets/broccoli.htm 

Broccoli and cauliflower photos above are from www.en.wikipedia.org

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fun-tastic Shadows

Photos from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and Gumasa, Sarangani, Philippines. It was a 1-week vacation shooting waterfalls, beaches, old houses, people, things, plants, animals, visit to indigenous peoples, and whatever things we fancy.  We had several transportation system too: planes, boats, raft, motorcycles, tricycles, jeepneys, vans, zipline and walk on foot. We woke up early to chase sunrise, went home late sending off sunsets. We played, went swimming, laughed and ate a lot. How wonderful if this is our job, just like our two friends who let us join them while they work. We spend time and money to have fun, they have fun to have money. 

...and these are some of my shadow shots!

my signature shot

Also linked to Mosaic Monday or at 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Clouds, clouds and more for Skywatch

at home
 at home 

Legaspi, Albay near Mayon Volcano

Quezon City

 Tacloban City

Cagsawa Ruins, Mayon Volcano site, Legaspi

Skywatch Friday

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foods for the Dinosaurs!

When the word 'dinosaur' is mentioned, it elicits thoughts about history, age, huge size, curiosity. When we say 'foods of the dinosaurs', we think of longevity, permanence, awe! And all of these terms can be used for cycads or cycas, the plants as old as the dinosaurs, and in fact one of their foods during their time. I just learned these information only recently, even if we have two genus of Cycas at home: Cycas revoluta and Cycas edentata. We have 2 mature specimens of the latter. It was actually planted by my sister when she was still a kid. Now it has grown big that my mother always cut some of the growing points, to prevent some branches from growing towards the house.

I seldom see cycas plants near our area. It is dioecious, meaning male and female structures are in separate plants. It turned out that ours is female, and it produced many fruits for the last 4 years. Pollens in the air pollinated them, however i haven't located the male plant. I just got curious with it after finding that it is vulnerable in our country. I now told my mother and the household about it. To prevent her from trying to kill it, I jokingly say that it must be allowed to grow so when the next generation of dinosaurs come, they already have food waiting. It elicited a good laugh from everybody. There are already many seedlings underneath it, which i gave to a blogging friend, Tristan,  who collects endemic species. I also gave 2 seedlings to Plantchaser, a collector of unusual and exotic plants.


           Top left: our 2nd Cycas edentata plant; Top right: young branches of our old plant

above: our old plant with Drynaria ferns growing on trunk, you can see the cut tips, courtesy of my mother


 Top left: a young branch; Top right: megasporophylls with the fruiting bodies
Top and Bottom: immature C. edentata fruits. This year is not a prolific year for its fruiting.

Above is a 3 yr old seedling, showing the tap root, secondary roots and the specialized 'coralloid roots', which contain the Cyanobacteria for nitrogen fixation. It is almost similar to legumes, which have nodules in the roots also for nitrogen fixation. No wonder the genus has survived for centuries through circumstances unknown to our generation yet.

An old specimen in front of the University of Santo Tomas campus, the oldest university in the country. If only ours is planted in an open space, we can allow it to branch and grow like this one.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shadows from our Colonizers

One weekend, I strolled inside the property, under the coconut trees and near the small ravine where forest trees were growing tall. Birds have been returning to our piece of land since those trees were left growing wildly, after the death of my father. Mixed with these trees are 2 tall Lagerstroemia speciosa, 2 mango varieties, an endemic tree producing the Manila elemi resin and a lot more trees i already consider as collections. I saw lots of other medicinal vines growing on top of the canopies. I have been wishing for a long zoom lens to document birds roosting there.

In some clearance on the ground some pineapples are growing. I remember planting this when i was still in high school. This is the red Spanish variety whose fruits are smaller and more fibrous than the common hybrid Smooth Cayenne introduced by the Americans. However, as kids we love eating them when not yet fully ripe, the stage with more pleasing taste. Enterprising Filipinos, extract fibers from leaves of this variety to produce the 'piña cloth' for our Barong Tagalog, the national dress for special occasions. ''Pina" fiber is expensive and elegant. I hope you see our Barong Tagalog on TV during formal occasions. When foreign dignitaries visit the president, they use Barong Tagalog also for respect to the host country. It also makes beautiful and elegant wedding gowns, table runners, pillow cases, linens, curtains.   This weekend i will again harvest 3 more fruits left on the plant. I guess it is more nutritious and healthy than the other two varieties. I will be healthier next week when i get back.

already ripe fruit, Red Spanish variety

 almost mature fruit, Red Spanish variety

still immature fruit, Red Spanish variety

Three pineapple varieties are now here in the country. This Spanish variety together with the Queen variety was brought by the Spanish colonizers. . The 'Queen',  which is more elongated and less fibrous, is good as table pineapple, but difficult to transport because fleshy and easily bruised. The 'Smooth Cayenne' variety, the most common for export, was introduced by the Americans . This is the variety being used by Del Monte and Dole pineapple for canning, and also more common on the tables. It is now one of the country's major exports. The Japanese being our third colonizers, brought other things, but not pineapple.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Queen of the Night

A post by Plantchaser inspired me to post this photos.

Our neighbor-cousin has some of its ornamental plants literally behind our kitchen window. I have long been waiting for this plant to bloom, which the owner said happens at night. I was very glad one weekend when i saw a lot of ready to open flowers. I even did not leave on a Sunday night to wake up at maybe midnight to take its photos. We even left the window open so the scent will reach us, and maybe serve as our alarm! Unfortunately, that Monday morning when i left for work, it still had not opened, the wish to take the photos foregone. The following day, Tuesday, my sister called to say that all the blooms opened Monday night. Can you imagine my chagrin, if only i believed my cousin that it will open Monday night, then i already have the bloom photos. I am annoyed and fully disappointed. It will still be a long wait, it will bloom again next year.

It is called by many common names depending on which country it is grown. Night Queen is just one of them. The Chinese "chengyu" (tan hua yi xian) uses this flower (tan-hua) to describe someone who has an impressive but very brief moment of glory, as a "flash in a pan", since this flower takes a year to bloom and only blooms over a single night (Wikipedia). So when a person is described as that, then he just happened to have a sudden unexpected achievement or he is just considered lucky.  Maybe this flowers rarity in blooming makes it very special. Next year i will not pass the opportunity.

It is an epiphyte cactus, but this one is planted on the ground. The flowers arise from the notch on the leaves. Leaf branches arise on some notch without flowers.



Also linked to  GBBD of May Dreams Gardens

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A gloomy day on the road

One weekend, as I am in a 2-hour bus ride on the Expressway to the province, i tried my best to get some shots of the scenery around. It was very difficult counteracting the bus shake, my arm shake, and all those movements, but i guess i got some passable shots here. I would like to share with you.

the colorful things hanging in front of the driver

photos above and below are still in the city, on my way out to the expressway

 this is a deep ravine with profuse growths of vines, trees and a lot of bamboos

There are also parts of the sky where clouds are not yet black and gloomy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hairs and Wings

I guess that morning when I went out of the house to look around, these black hairy creatures were also in their exploratory mode. I saw a lot of them individually crawling on the ground instead of some leafy bushes. Maybe they are looking for corners or silent nooks to hang for pupation. However, they didn't know that they are trespassing on open grounds, where they are very vulnerable to walking heavy animals like me. I almost stepped on one of them, while taking the photos of butterflies. I saw two of them already dead, flat on the cemented road because of motorcycle tires. I will still search around what butterflies or moths they will become. 

Ideopsis juventa 'manillana'

I am sure this is not the adult butterfly, which came from the black hairy larvae. It loves the yellow Turnera than the pentas. It closes its wings fully when dipping its proboscis inside the flower. This type really love to roost on the drying stalks of dill. When i realized they love that, i purposely crack-bent some dill branches to dry, which was the stage much loved by butterflies (as in the top center). They seem to fly slowly, seemingly hallucinating after staying a long time with dead dill branches. Maybe dill is their equivalent for the Canabis sativa.

Dragonflies are very seldom seen in our area. I did not let the presence of this red go unnoticed. At least i got three shots before it went away, and it did not return when the sun is up.
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