HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope this post finds you well. Another year has gone by and it is time to move forward. 2022 came with the coldest weekend so far this winter. We have had great weather so far.

2021 was difficult for many people throughout the world. Many have lost loved ones, income, and businesses. COVID still lingers and it is likely it will continue to be a problem. Two very good friends of mine now have COVID…

I haven’t posted for a while because I have been working on updates. Well, it is partly because I haven’t had much to talk about either. One day leads to another and now it is 2022.

I don’t get out much but I did go to my sister’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was good to get away for a few days each time. My brother-in-law told me they enjoyed my company and I didn’t have to wait until next Thanksgiving to come for a visit. Hmmm… Getting to their house in Raytown is fairly simple and only takes about 1 1/2 hours. Leaving their house and getting back on the right road is a little different and isn’t just a matter of going in the opposite direction… If I went there more often I know it would be easier.

Anyway, both of their vehicles are broke down, so I was glad I decided to go on Friday afternoon instead of waiting until Christmas morning. We went to their church’s Christmas Eve service Friday evening and again to church on Sunday morning.

I didn’t take my camera but I wish I did. They feed the birds and squirrels and have MANY feeders in their front yard and back deck. The squirrels seem to come from the whole neighborhood and one is a silvery color. Sunday, a couple of interesting wrens showed up on the back deck like I haven’t seen before. They were browner than the wrens that come to my yard in the summer. They also have quite a few hummingbird feeders with perches which is quite interesting. They way they don’t have to hoover and can sit on the perch while they eat. I am going to have to get one of those so I can get better photos…

I bought birdseed a few days ago and filled the tube feeder in the front yard. I haven’t seen many birds yet, but I am sure they will come. I think many of the migrating birds haven’t come because of the mild weather.

There isn’t much else to talk about. My birthday came and went with only four people remembering. 🙂 My own kids didn’t even remember so I didn’t remind them. It’s just another day. It’s odd how when we are young we want to be older, and when we get older we think we need more time to get done with what we wanted to accomplish… Time waits for no one… I am very thankful to be in great shape with no health problems at 61.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do have a mental list of things I need to accomplish in 2022. It is somehow the same as 2021 and possibly the same as 2020. I have made some progress and I seem to like to use income as an excuse. Then when summer gets here I use the heat as an excuse. The fact that I am 61 now will be another excuse I can use. I always “think to myself” I am too old to get out in the heat even though I wouldn’t like it someone else reminded me of that. In my mind, I am thinking it doesn’t matter how old I am. So, there is this argument in my head… I am still quite capable of doing whatever I need to do so I should just do it… So, I suppose if I were to have a New Year’s resolution, it would be to stop procrastinating and just do it…

I think as we get older, we should challenge ourselves. We somehow get in a rut, and perhaps get comfortable, with thinking we need to slow down, or perhaps maybe we think we don’t have to do as much. If we are still healthy and capable, we need to keep going and do as much as we can. We still have a home (and farm) that needs to be taken care of. Once we retire (not that I am retired), we have more time to do things we want to do, things we have put off for when we have more time. If you slow down, one day you may not be able. You will notice your joints getting stiff, or maybe you will get tired sooner. It gets easier to say, “I can do that tomorrow.” Maybe it will rain tomorrow, or be too hot or cold. Tomorrow leads to another tomorrow and soon that small tree along the foundation gets so big you have to get out the chainsaw…

So, in 2022 I vow to get more done so my small trees won’t get so large. I have some big ones I need to cut because I procrastinated when they were small. Of course, it is not just actual trees I am talking about… 2022 will be a year of accomplishment.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful! Wishing you the best for the year ahead!

 

 

My First White Schlumbergera truncata…

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 12-11-21 outside for a photoshoot.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Late in November, the local Dollar General had two displays of Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus). I tried my best not to look at them but one day I finally gave in… Their buds were very small at the time but I noticed the end of their segments had A LOT of buds. Day by day, their buds were getting bigger and I wondered if there were any colors I didn’t have. The problem was, every day their numbers were decreasing. Once the buds grew larger, I spotted one that looked like it might have white flowers. I brought it home on November 30…

On December 11, the flowers had opened enough to get some good photos. For sure, it has white flowers…

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 12-11-21.

The lower petals were really reflexed…

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 12-11-21.

I think the flower will get longer after a few days…

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 12-11-21.

Schlumbergera truncata have very interesting flowers and this time of the year they “should be” budding and blooming.

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 11-18-21.

I had kept all the Schlumbergera truncata in the kitchen windowsill all summer except for one which was on the front porch. When I moved the plants inside for the winter, I put the one that was on the front porch on the plant shelf in front of the sliding door in the dining room… They have lost a lot of segments lately and seem to be wanting A LOT of water… How much is too much this time of the year? Most cactus and succulents don’t need water now, but these are in active growth.

Remember last year I hand-pollinated the two plants that produced fruit? Three of them fell off a few months ago and one hung on until a few days ago.

Schlumbergera truncata (Holiday Cactus) on 11-18-21, #856-1.

Hmmm… The one on the shelf bloomed while the plants in the windowsill did nothing. The plants on the windowsill have had plenty of light which decreased as the day length decreased. The one on the shelf had more light on the front porch which decreased when I brought it inside. Then, when we had sunny days, it triggered it to bloom…

Last year, the plant with yellow (cream) flowers bloomed in November then again in February. It all has to do with light and you can force them to bloom just about any time of the year. SO, I moved the Schlumbergera truncata on the windowsill to the shelf and the one from the shelf next to the new one on the windowsill.

Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas Cactus) on 12-12-21.

Then I moved the Schlumbergera russelliana (Christmas Cactus) to my bedroom in lower light. Ummm… It had been on the windowsill… The Schlumbergera russelliana is doing well but it looks like it needs fertilizer because its leaves are looking pale. It is naturally a drooper.

Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri (Easter Cactus) on 12-12-21.

I have been updating the plant pages and when I came to the Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter Cactus) page I was shocked to find out its name changed AGAIN! When I brought it home last November I found out the name had changed from Hatiora gaertneri to Schlumbergera gaertneri. Now it is Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri… Back to the name it was given in 1942… This one isn’t supposed to bloom until Easter. Other than having a name issue, it is doing well. Personally, I think it knows what its real name is but it likes keeping botanists guessing. It has 10 synonyms… Well, that isn’t too bad. Schlumbergera truncata has 19 and S. russelliana has only 5.

I am still updating pages and have about 70 more to go. Then I have to go back to the top of the list and update a few things that evolved during the process. Plants of the World Online has been in the process of updating its maps and adding names from the International Plant Names Index that weren’t on POWO. Adding names from IPNI seems to be a workout for them and has changed infraspecific names and A LOT of synonyms. It has affected quite a few of my plant pages so I have to keep going back to see if updates have been made on POWO so I can update my plant pages properly. The number of species has increased for several genera and even several new genera in some families. Kew is always on the ball…

I have some ideas mulling around for a few posts, but for now, I need to get the updates finished. I am still alive and well. 🙂

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and get as dirty as you can when you can. Don’t forget to always be thankful… Give someone a hug, but be careful who you hug. You may get slapped. 🙂

 

 

Fall 2021 Cactus Update Part 2… From The Back Porch

Cactus on the back porch on 9-22-21, #833-2.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am doing fine for the most part… I am just less motivated this time of the year but there are things I need to get done.

Before I begin with this post, let me just say I don’t think I have a green thumb. I like a wide variety of plants that have different but similar requirements. Hmmm… I just confused myself. For the most part, the potted plants on the front porch need a shadier area, and the plants on the back porch prefer full sun. This year a few plants were under the roof on the back porch so they wouldn’t be in full sun and only received morning sun. Some of the plants on the front porch would probably like the back porch better. Maybe next year… We have to get through the winter first. 🙂

Linda, from The Task at Hand, commented on the last post concerning cactus getting wet in direct sunlight. I mentioned in the post what LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) said, but I will quote here what the website says about the cultivation and propagation on the Ferocactus wislizeni page: “Use very draining soil, water during the aestival growth cycle (this plant need plenty of water) But needs to be avoided wetting the bodies of these plants while they are in sunlight. A wet cactus in the sunlight can cause sun burning which can lead to scars or even fungal infections and death. Needs full sun. Keep dry at 10”… Normally, much more is written about cultivation and propagation so I think he didn’t get finished or something went wrong which is why the information stops “at 10”. 10 what? LLIFLE is a very reliable source of information but experience is always the best teacher.

Many cactus have specific requirements in nature which is why they grow in certain areas. I am sure in nature cactus get wet followed by sun which possibly leads to scarring, infection, and death for some species. Other species may not be affected by getting wet in full sun. Personally, I don’t water any of my plants when the sun is on them or if the night temperatures will be cool (especially for cactus and succulents). This can be tricky when it comes time to bring the plants inside for the winter. Last year it was fairly dry when I brought the plants inside, but it was the opposite this year. We had cool temps and it rained. I wasn’t worried about the plants on the front porch because they were under a roof. The cactus on the back porch were in the elements getting wet when temps were around 40° F… Many cactus have no issues with temps even below freezing when they are in the ground in their native habitat because they go dormant. Some species go dormant in the heat of the summer. Some grow way up in the mountains… But, my cactus are in pots and their ancestors grow in many different areas from forests to deserts from high to low elevations. It is a lot different in pots in west-central Missouri than in their native habitat…

Jim, from How I See It, in his comment asked a very good question… “Are plants like these abundant from their places of origin? Do you ever encounter plants that should not be traded on the plant market because they are endangered, etc?’ My reply was that I normally check the IUCN Red List about their status in nature. Many of the species in my collection are not endangered but some are for a variety of reasons. While some species have been collected to near extinction in the past, those species are illegal to collect in the wild now. Some species become endangered due to growing agricultural needs and their environment changes. Many species have been collected and relocated to save them. The plants in my collection come from commercial growers and are likely grown from seed. Even so, it bothers me when I have a species that are endangered in the wild due to overcollection. Upon further research, I found out the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre says trade is controlled to avoid use incompatible with species survival with every species of cactus in my collection…

There are many species that shouldn’t be available on the market for several reasons. One is because they have requirements the average person can’t fill and eventually die. I have noticed in the last few years commercial growers sell seed-grown plants to Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, etc. that are very small that really struggle to survive. Most of the very small plants I have bought in the past few years, like in 2” pots, from Wal-Mart and from Ebay have died.

If you missed the previous post, Fall 2021 Cactus Update Part 1, is about the cactus on the back porch up to the Mammillaria. You can click on the plant’s name to go to their own pages for more information about the species and see all their photos.

Mammillaria decipiens (syn. subsp. camptotricha) (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) at 2″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-12.

The Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha) (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) did GREAT over the summer. The tallest plant in the cluster measured 2″ tall and the group expanded to 4 1/2″ wide. To think it was only 1 1/2″tall x 3″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on March 19 in 2018… It is really hard to tell, but I believe we have a few new offsets. There were five plants in the cluster when I brought it home and I think there are 12 now. I really like this species… This species has 19 synonyms and has been in 8 genera. Ummm… The subspecies name is a synonym…

The IUCN Red Lists says this species is stable in its natural habitat. Mammillaria decipiens are native to San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, and Queretaro in Mexico where they grow at an altitude between around 5,085 to almost 8,000 feet above sea level (1550-2150 meters).

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Mammillaria elongata (Ladyfinger Cactus) on 10-28-21, #853-13.

The Mammillaria elongata (Ladyfinger Cactus) continues to go bananas. The longest stem in the center of the pot broke in half over the winter then died. Now the longer stems measure from 3 to 3 3/4″ long. I counted 39 stems and offsets and some are very tiny. There are even offsets growing along some of the taller stems. Hmmm… I should have taken a photo from a different angle but I was in a hurry. There was one stem with 11 offsets when I brought this plant home from Wal-Mart in 2018.

The IUCN Red List indicates this species in declining in its native habitat due to agriculture, aquaculture, industry, and mining.

LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says this may be the most common Mammillaria to be found. It occurs in more variations than any other Mammillaria species. It commonly comes in many color and spine variations. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 52 synonyms and has been in six genera.

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Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) at 3 3/4″ tall x 3 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-14.

As always, the Mammillaria hahniana did very well over the summer and grew to about 3 3/4″ tall x 3 3/4″ wide. It looks a little strange because it had rained so its wool was wet. This plant was only 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. I have really enjoyed this plant.

The two unlabeled cactus I brought home from Wal-Mart last December 2, that turned out to be different looking Mammillaria hahniana, died over the summer. In fact, all four cactus I brought home that day died… They were all very small…

The IUCN Red List says Mammillaria hahniana is of least concern in its native habitat.

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Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) at 4″ tall x 35/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-15.

The Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) did really well over the summer and grew to 4″ tall x 3 5/8″ wide. It didn’t especially like being photographed with wet wool since it had been sprinkling. I explained it was very important and I would take another photo of it when it starts blooming. It normally starts flowering up a storm shortly after I bring the plants inside. This plant has grown quite a bit from 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/16 when I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21 in 2018.

It is one of a few Mammillaria species in my collection that are dichotomous branching. That means it will split to form two plants.

Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) from the top on 10-28-21, #853-16.

I really like this plant and the way its wool weaves through its tubercles.

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable in its native habitat in Central and Southwest Mexico and Guatemala.

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Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) at 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-17.

The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) did very well over the summer and grew to 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide. It was 3 3/4″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide when I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21 in 2019. This one is also dichotomous branching. I really like this cactus with its blue-green color and long golden spines. Its shape reminds me of a light bulb…

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) from the top on 10-28-21, #853-18.

It has a few more buds to become flowers I will miss AGAIN. This plant was LOADED with buds that were ready to open on June 24. I checked every day to get a photo of its flowers and the next thing I knew the buds had turned to faded flowers. It has had buds multiple times but I have never seen them open…

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable in its native habitat in Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí in Mexico. It lists no threats.

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Mammillaria mystax at 3 1/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-19.

The Mammillaria mystax is a very well-behaved cactus that has no issues. It grew to 3 1/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide over the summer and was 1 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ when I brought it home from Lowes on September 21 in 2018. It has very sharp reddish-brown tipped spines.

The Mammillaria mystax is a pretty straightforward plant with very prominent 4-6 angled tubercles. In the wild, it produces very long, entangled spines on its crown but that seldom happens in cultivation. This species divides dichotomously as well as possibly producing offsets. It will produce a ring of rose flowers with brown mid-veins in up to 3 rows which hasn’t happened yet…

The IUCN Red List says this species population is stable in its native habitat in South Central Mexico.

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Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) at 1 3/4″ tall x 4 3/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-20.

The Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) may look a little strange in the above photo because its “plumage” was kind of wet from the rain. It did very well over the summer and the largest plant in the cluster grew to 1 3/4″ tall. The entire cluster measured 4 3/8″ wide. It was 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide when I received it from a seller on Ebay on September 22 in 2019. I still have to smile when I look at the photo when it arrived all wrapped up in toilet paper. I must say, it has done great and was one of my better buys on Ebay. You would be amazed at how many cactus and succulents are listed.

The IUCN Red List states the population is declining and near threatened in its native habitat in Coahuila and Nuevo León in Mexico where it grows on limestone cliffs in sparse xerophytic shrubland. This species is illegally collected for the ornamental trade. The local community in the area also collects plants from the wild and sells them at local markets at Christmas time, as they are used to decorate nativity scenes.

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Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) at 6 1/2′ tall x 2 5/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-21.

The Mammillaria pringlei Lemon Ball Cactus) did very well again over the summer and grew to 6 1/2″ tall x 2 5/8″ wide. It has leaned over the summer AGAIN so I need to re-pot it and straighten it up. Many species of cactus are leaners and this one does it more than any other in my collection… This time the pot won’t stand up on its own. GEEZ! The Mammillaria pringlei is one of the most abundant bloomers I have. It produces a lot of flowers in multiple rows.

Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) on 10-28-21, #853-22.

Blooming again and it appears there is a fruit… Hmmm… A while back I received a comment from a reader who said she had purchased a Mammillaria karwinskiana in the spring and in the last month was producing magenta seed pods. She hadn’t seen any flowers and was wondering could there really be that much of a delay. Well, of course, I sent her a lengthy reply. 🙂 I told her I rarely see any fruit on my cactus, which is true because they need two plants of the same species to pollinate. Usually, I only see fruit on my cactus within a few months after I bring them home if they have been pollinated where they were grown. Mammillaria pringlei, on the other hand, has produced fruit several times and I don’t quite understand why… It could possibly be pollinated from the M. rhodantha since was formerly M. rhodantha subsp. pringlei… It is still considered a part of the Mammillaria rhodantha complex…

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Mammillaria pringlei as vulnerable in its natural habitat. This is due to its restricted range, being present in only three areas. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) states it has experienced declines due to the collection of its flowers and even whole plants for Christmas decorations. Apparently, at one point this species was not found in any of the protected areas.

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Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion) at 4 1/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-23.

Who wouldn’t like the Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion)? Those reddish spines would get anyone’s attention. This plant has always done well and grew to 4 1/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide over the summer. It has been a slower grower compared to the Mammillaria pringlei. It was 3 3/4″ tall when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. That measurement likely includes the spines…

“This one” blooms kind of strange… Sometimes it has an abundance of buds but only a few of the flowers will open. Then there will be holes where the old buds were.

Mammillaria rhodantha is a VERY variable species which has led to it having a whopping 132 synonyms. Thirty-five of the synonyms are forms, subspecies, or varieties of M. rhodantha

Mammillaria pringlei and M. rhodantha are also both species that divide dichotomously and also produce offsets.

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable and of least concern in its native habitat. It is a native of high-table lands in Queretaro, Michoacán, Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Hidalgo in Mexico where it grows in fertile soil.

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Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) (Thimble Cactus) at 1 7/8″ tall on 10-28-21, #853-25.

This Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) (Thimble Cactus) amuses me. I had one before in a good-sized pot that I gave up in 2014. When I went to Lowe’s to find a new one in 2018, I brought home the ‘Arizona Snowcap’. A few days later, I found this very small plant at Wagler’s Greenhouse with a few offsets along its stem.  I didn’t realize it was a Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis at the time because it wasn’t growing like the one I had previously and it only had one stem… When you find them at a garden center they are usually in a cluster.

The original stem grew a little taller over the summer and was 1 7/8″ tall when the above photo was taken. The offsets that grew on the main stem are still attached from last year. Before that, most of them fell off. I should take a photo from the top so you can see how many offsets there are in this little pot. It needs repotting anyway because I noticed the pot is broken… I have had those pots since 2009 so they are bound to be a little brittle. The plant was in too large of a pot when I brought it home so I put it n a smaller one. It kept leaning over so I put the marble next to it to hold it up. Now it thinks the marble belongs to him (or her).

Even though Mammillaria vetula is the accepted name of the species, it is most often labeled Mammillaria gracilis fragilis at garden centers. It has 24 synonyms including Mammillaria gracilis, M. fragilis, M. gracilis var. fragilis, M. vetula subsp. gracilis, and so on.

What sets this “subspecies” apart from the species is that it usually has no central spines where M. vetula has 1 or two. The species has at least 25 radial spines (up to 50 on mature specimens) where the subspecies only has 11-16. Mine has no central spines…

The IUCN Red List says the species is stable and of least concern in its natural habitat in Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and Querétaro in Mexico where they are found in pine forests at high altitudes.

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Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ at 2 1/4″ tall on 10-28-21, #853-24.

The Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ (Thimble Cactus) did well over the summer of 2021 and the largest plant in the cluster grew to 2 1/4″ tall… I brought this cactus home from Lowe’s on July 8 in 2018 when the cluster measured 2″ tall x 5″ wide. The pot was bulging and the spines seemed much thicker and more white than the “regular” Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis. The pot was labeled Mammillaria gracilis fragilis monstrose so I did some research. As it turns out, this plant was a monstrous form of Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis, likely a nursery-produced cultivar and possibly a hybrid, named ‘Arizona Snowcap’. Over the winter I took a couple of photos and a few of the offsets in the pot were nearly solid white and looked like little snowballs. Those plants died… In fact, half of the offsets died. I re-potted what was left and the rest have done pretty well.

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Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Ball Cactus), Lessor (left) at 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide, Greater (right) at 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-26.

The two Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Ball Cactus, ETC.) made it through the summer quite well. Lessor, on the left in the above photo grew to 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide. Greater, on the right, grew to 6 1/8″ tall and is the same width as last year at 2 3/8″ wide. Last year they had the same measurements… These two characters have grown quite a lit since I brought them home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. It was an accident that I brought two home, like usual when I bring two of the same species home, but I am glad I did. Watching these two side by side has been entertaining. Lessor was only 1 7/8″ tall x 1 3/4″ wide when I brought it home and somehow I didn’t measure Greater, which was taller. Last October they were the same size at 6″ tall x 2 3/8′ wide.

They are supposed to produce bright yellow flowers but I read they may need to be 10 years old… Five more years to go. GEEZ!

Parodia lenninghausii the Lessor’s offsets on 10-28-21, #853-27.

One of Lessor’s kids grew quite a bit over the summer…

The IUCN Red List doesn’t say anything about this species, but LLIFLE says they are abundant in their native habitat in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil but many subpopulations have been extirpated… The species grows at elevations between about 985 to 4,265 feet (300-1300 meters) in hilly grasslands and in the shade of larger plants where they tolerate a wide range of temperatures.

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Parodia magnifica at 2 1/2″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-28.

The Parodia magnifica (Ball or Balloon Cactus) is a neat species that reminds me of the crown for Imperial Margarine. I did very well over the summer and still measured 2 1/2″ tall but it grew to 3 1/4″ wide. It was 1 3/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide when I brought it home from Lowe’s on March 29 in 2019.

Parodia magnifica is a native to Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil and are also found nearby in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. The IUCN Red List has them listed as an endangered species. They grow on hilly grasslands and on walls between cracks in rocks or in the shade of larger growing plants in deciduous forests. In this climate, they experience warm and cool seasons and grow in soil with plenty of organic matter from the decomposition of other plants. It is said Parodia magnifica can survive temps as low as 20° F if their soil is dry and they are not subject to frost.

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Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost) at 6 3/8″ tall x 3 1/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-29.

I think the Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost or Organ Pipe Cactus) is a magnificent plant. It always does great over the summer and grew to 6 3/8″ tall x 3 1/8″ wide. It was 2 7/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. It stayed 2 3/4″ wide until this year (except it was 3″ wide in 2019). It has been a great all-around plant. The label said they grow to 20′ in time, but reliable sources say 13-16’…

The IUCN Red List says the population of Stenocereus pruinosus is stable and of least concern in its native habitat in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz in Mexico. They grow at 2,600 to 6,200 feet (800 to 1,900 meters) above sea level where they can be found in tropical deciduous forests. They are known for their edible fruit.

Well, that is it for the cactus that were on the back porch and their pages have been updated…

I will go back to updating the pages to the right. It is sometimes hard to decide what to write about over the winter but I may do a wildflower series. Not that they are blooming now… 🙂 If you have any suggestions, I would like to hear them.

Until next time, take care, stay positive, and always be thankful!

Fall 2021 Cactus Update Part 1… From The Back Porch

Cactus on the back porch on 9-22-21, #833-2.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. It has been a strange fall for sure. I was able to let the potted plants stay outside until October 28 this year. While we did have a cold snap and a few light “F’s’, low’s through Wednesday will be 46-54° F. After that we go downhill again. If I wanted, and no one was looking, I could take the plants back outside again until Thursday… Well, maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea since it could rain.

I forgot to take a group photo of the cactus on the back porch before I brought them inside. It was kind of rainy and I was in a bit of a hurry. The Alocasia and Bilbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears) went to the basement and the other plants went on shelves. I already posted about them and was leaving the cactus until last. I already posted about the cactus on the front porch, which leaves those that are on the back porch.

Here we go in alphabetical order…

Acanthocereus tetragonus (Fairytale Cactus) at 5″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-1.

The Acanthocereus tetragonus did very well over the summer and grew to 5″ tall and is still 2 3/4″ wide. It probably would have grown taller but apparently, the top of the tallest stem broke off… Even at that, it is 3/4″ taller than when it was last measured on October 15 in 2020. It was 3″ tall when I brought it home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on October 18 in 2018. Mrs. Wagler had two HUGE plants but she said one disappeared… Likely out the other door when no one was around… Her plants of this species always look much better than this one because they aren’t outside in the elements.

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Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’ at 9 3/4″ tall x 4 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-2.

The Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’ grew another 1 1/2″ taller to 9 3/4″ and 1/2″ wider. It was 5 1/2″ tall when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on March 19 in 2018.

Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’ from the top on 10-28-21, #853-3.

Always a neat plant from any angle… I have had absolutely no issues with this plant.

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Echinopsis ‘Rainbow Bursts’ at 4″ tall x 7 1/2″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-4.

The Echinopsis ‘Rainbow Bursts’ continues to do well and is STILL 4″ tall but has spread out another 1/2″ over the summer. STILL waiting for flowers… The cluster was 2 1/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. Back then it was called x Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Bursts’ and was a hybrid between Echinopsis and Lobivia… The Lobivia genus became a synonym of Echinopsis and its species were moved here and there. There were a few other genera that became synonyms of Echinopsis at the time.

The wife of one of my cousins has several old and LARGE clusters of Echinopsis that put on quite a show every year.

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Echinopsis huascha (var. grandiflora)(Desert’s Blooming Jewel) at 5″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-5.

What can I say? I am not sure why this particular Echinopsis huascha (var. grandiflora (Desert’s Blooming Jewel) has this fungal disease (or whatever it is). The six in the other pot are just fine and have been treated the same. It is A LOT worse than before. It is supposed to be caused by overwatering in cool temps. Any cactus can have this issue and Echinopsis are no more susceptible than any other. Even so, this plant has grown to 5″ tall over the summer. It was 3 7/8″ tall last October 15 and 3″ tall when I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21 in 2018.

Echinopsis huascha (var. grandiflora) (Desert’s Blooming Jewel). The largest plant in the center of the pot was 6 3/4″ tall x 3″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-6.

As you can see, the six in this pot are doing just fine and sending out offsets. The largest plant in the center of the pot was 6 3/8″ tall x 3″ wide. SOOO, it either shrunk or I mismeasured it last October… 🙂 The tallest plant in the center was only 3″ tall when I brought them home from Lowe’s on November 29 in 2018. Yes, the same day as the single plant because I goofed. Well, there was a pot of seven cactus in a pot that was on clearance because a bigger plant in the middle of the pot was dead. I repotted them and they have done great! I didn’t notice at the time the label in the pot said Trichocereus grandiflorus like the smaller plant I already had in my cart. If the one with issues doesn’t make it, I still have a pot of six plus the offsets.

The Echinopsis huascha is one of “those” controversial species that hails from Argentina. It has been in multiple genera with many species names becoming synonyms of Echinopsis huascha. When I last updated this plants page last December, Plants of the World Online listed 43  synonyms. They are updating their synonyms so if you happen to check on POWO now they currently list only five… So, I didn’t update the synonyms. Even so, no other database lists 43 synonyms of this species. The other problem with this species is that it is variable in growth, shape, size, spine length and color, flower color, etc. Even so, there is only one accepted infraspecific name. LLIFLE (and other websites) list the particular plants I have as Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora. That name was invalidly published and somehow isn’t even listed on the International Plant Names Index as an invalid name… SO, I just put var. grandiflora in parenthesis. It isn’t legit. 🙂

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Espostoa melanostele subsp. nana (Peruvian Old Lady) at 8 1/2″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-7.

The Espostoa melanostele subsp. nana (Peruvian Old Lady) seems to have shrunk 1/2″ to 8 1/2″ and is still 2 1/2″ wide. Well, that’s OK since it seems perfectly happy and healthy. I guess it took a break since it has grown from 2 3/4″ when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. The subspecies name is legit with this one… 🙂

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Ferocactus wislizeni (Fishhook Barrel Cactus) at 2 1/2′ tall x 3″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-8.

The Ferocactus wislizeni (Fishhook Barrel Cactus) is a slow grower. It now measured 2 1/2′ tall x 3″ wide on the 28th which is 1/8″ taller than last year. It was only 1 5/8″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide when I brought it home from Lowe’s on March 29 in 2019. I like the way its new bristles are a bright red. It doesn’t seem to be looking its best, though. I brought home a Ferocactus latispinus in 2016 but it didn’t live very long…

Information online says these plants need plenty of water during their active growth cycle but not to get their “bodies” wet while in direct sunlight. LLIFLE says, “A wet cactus in the sunlight can cause sun burning which can lead to scars or even fungal infections and death.” Well, I never water any of my plants when the sun is on them… What is a person supposed to do If it rains in the morning and the sun comes out in the afternoon?

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Gymnocalycium saglionis (Giant Chin Cactus) at 2 3/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-9.

Hmmm… I need to take new photos of this one because its spines are definitely not red or that bright of green! Anyway, the Gymnocalycium saglionis (Giant Chin Cactus) did great over the summer and grew 3/8″ taller to 2 3/8″ wide x 3 1/2″ wide. I really like this plant.

Gymnocalycium saglionis (Giant Chin Cactus) from the top on 10-28-21, #853-10.

The G. saglionis has been a great plant and it has no issues… Not a single blemish anywhere. I just have to have a talk with it when I take new photos… Well, I read where the spines are red when they are wet. While, yes, the cactus were wet when I took their photos on the 28th, this plant’s spines only looked red in the photo… There are photos online of this species with red spines because they are wet. 🙂

I really like this cactus and was glad to find a Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) at Wal-Mart on December 2, 2020. It died over the summer…

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Kroenleinia grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus). Lessor (left) at 3 3/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide and Greater (right) at 3 5/8″ tall x 3″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-11.

The two Kroenleinia grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus) are still the jokers of the bunch. Last October they were the same size at 3 1/2″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide. This time, Greater grew to 3 5/8″ tall x 3″ wide, and Lessor was 3 3/8′ tall x 3 1/4″ wide. I measured several times because they like to fool me and I am sure Lessor was wiggling… I still thought something was off with the measurements as I wrote this so I thought I would get them off the shelf and do it again. As I reached for Lessor, Greater smiled. I thought, “GEEZ! I have been suckered again”. I sat back down then thought I would call their bluff. So, I got back up and took Lessor from the shelf and measured him AGAIN. Sure enough, he was 3 3/8″ tall, give or take a hair, but I couldn’t see him being 3 1/4″ wide. Then, all the sudden he was 3 1/4″ wide. They have done very well despite their issues with crickets scarring them a few years ago and a blemish here and there. Lessor was 2 1/8″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide and Greater was 2 1/2″ tall x 2″ wide when I brought them home from Wal-Mart February 1 in 2016. They have fooled me several times over the years since I accidentally brought two home instead of just one.

Kroenleinia grusonii WAS Echinocactus grusonii from 1886 until 2014 when testing proved the species was more closely related to the genus Ferocactus. SO, they changed the name to Kroenleinia grusonii and now it is in a genus of its very own… all by itself. It always takes a few (to several) years for the new names to be officially approved. Kroenleinia is MUCH harder to spell and I STILL haven’t found the pronunciation… Dave’s Garden is behind…

Well, I think I will stop here and start working on part 2. I don’t want to put too many on the same post.

Until next time, take care and always be thankful!

 

Cool Weather Is Here…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. This has been the weirdest Fall I can remember. I finally had to bring the potted plants inside on the 28th. I haven’t had an “F” yet, but a friend of mine said there has been in lower lying areas around where he lives.

The photo above is from the National Weather Service for Windsor, MO. That changed from a few days ago when they were predicting rain and even snow several days this week. Now it says mostly clear and sunny with temps as low as 31° F. I am sure the forecast will change. The National Weather Service says the high on Saturday will be near 58° F with a low of around 39. The Weather Channel says the high will be 63° with a low of 45. Hmmm… I guess you can take your pick but we will just have to wait to see what happens. No matter, the sun is much better than rain and snow.

The leaves on the old maple tree in “the other yad” didn’t change to their beautiful orange glow. Instead, they are turning kind to a yellowish-orange color then brown before falling off.

The maple on the north side of the front yard is still completely green while the one on the south side is about 1/4 reddish.

The two on the south side are beginning to change color…

Even the Colocasia esculenta have been enjoying the mild temps. The Alocasia are now in the basement…

The first flower on the Stapelia gigantea lasted four or five days. The second one opened on October 30, and the third on November 1. It is inside now and I haven’t noticed such a terrible odor. It just smells somewhat gassy although I haven’t bent down to take a whiff. I am not doing that again…

SO, on October 28, I photographed and measured the cactus on the back porch as I moved them inside for the winter. That means I will be posting about their progress.

I continue to make updates on the plant pages, adding photos I took over the summer and adding new pages. Not so many names have changed in 2021 compared to before. Plants of the World Online by Kew continually make updates sometimes I send the senior editor an email when I see something whacky. Their staff works very hard to keep everything updated and I am sure that is no easy task and very frustrating at times. Right now, they are still working on their synonyms, so some species pages are way off from before. As a result, I can’t update the synonyms list on some of my plant pages. I am close to finishing the species of the family Asteraceae. I have been working on the Asteraceae page for at least two weeks… Well, I got this whacky idea a while back to make updates by family instead of alphabetical order. I wanted to spruce up the family pages with photos and links to each species page. That has proved to be quite a process as I update each species and add new pages in the process. The Asteraceae page is the biggest so far which will have 54 species linked when it is finished… You can check it out to see what you think. I appreciate other people’s opinions. I still haven’t added a top photo because I haven’t decided which one to use… The page is almost finished with only 3-4 more species to add.

Until next time, when I start posting the cactus updates, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

October 24-25 Wildflower ID…

Solidago sp. (Goldenrod) in the main hayfield on 10-24-21, #851-8.

Hello everyone! This is not exactly a normal time of the year to be identifying wildflowers on the farm here in west-central Missouri. Normally, we have had an “F” by now and most everything is dead or dying. Trees that turn bright colors, like many maple cultivars, are still green. The old maple in “the other yard” is changing color and the leaves are falling, but they would normally be orange. The two maples in front of the house and the south side are still green… Here it is, October 25, and still no “F” in the forecast… I am certainly not complaining. 🙂

I went to the south hayfield on October 24 to look at the Ladies’ Tresses again. I was also hoping I would stumble on the Elephant’s Foot again which didn’t happen (at least not in the south hayfield). The flowers of Ladies’ Tresses were beginning to fade, so what I was looking for apparently didn’t happen.  I am still leaning toward Spiranthes magnicamporum even though their lateral sepals didn’t spread outward.  I think the flowers the way they are and the stems with the sheathing bracts are good enough to confirm identity.

Arphia xanthoptera (Autumn Yellow-Winged Grasshopper) on 10-24-21, #851-6.

I walked to the back of the south hayfield to see if there was anything interesting and I spotted this brown grasshopper. Its scientific identity is Arphia xanthoptera and the common name is Autumn Yellow-Winged Grasshopper. I had never seen a grasshopper this color, but photos of the species show they come in many shades. I was surprised it actually let m hold it for a while. Usually, grasshoppers move around to the other side of a stem or leaf so you won’t see them. If you get too close they just fly off. This fellow didn’t seem to mind sitting on my hand to get a photo. After that, it left its calling card and flew off. As he flew, I could see his wings were red and yellow.

I am in an argument with Grammarly at the moment… I know we are both right and wrong at the same time. Grammarly thinks I shouldn’t capitalize the name on both sides of the hyphen, but that is the way I always do it. If a person’s name includes a hyphen, both names are capitalized. We are both wrong because some well-paid taxonomists think common names shouldn’t be capitalized at all. Other taxonomists are in disagreement. According to “some”, even family names shouldn’t be italicized and others yes… I capitalize common names and italicize family names and so do most of the sites I use.

After I finished in the south hayfield I climbed over the fence and entered the main hayfield. Not long after I was in the main hayfield, I stumbled on a strange plant I hadn’t seen before.

Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) on 10-24-21, #851-2.

It was quite windy so I had to take even more photos than normal. This Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) was sticking out like a sore thumb adorned in its fall colors. I had never seen it before, so I knew I had identified a new species on the farm. That is always exciting. I knew it was a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae and I was correct. I only noticed one plant on the 24th but I needed a few more photos so I went back on the 25th. I couldn’t find the exact plant, but I managed to find two more. The second plant I found was only 4 1/4″ tall but the one from the 24th seemed a little larger. They can actually grow to 36″ tall…

Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) on 10-25-21, #852-3.

The Acalypha gracilens is a native of the southeastern and east part of the United States. It is quite common in some states and quite rare in others. It only has a few observations in the state of Missouri and none anywhere near here.

Plants grow in a variety of soil and light conditions which makes them very adaptable. In some situations, they can become weedy and grow differently from location to location making them somewhat tricky to identify.

The plants produce both male and female flowers on the same raceme. The female flowers are on the lower part while the male flowers are on the upper part. Flowers are wind pollinated and they become more “obvious” after pollination… Hmmm… We have had plenty of wind lately so they should be happy. This species produces fruit with 3 sections with one seed per section. There is a name for that but I can’t think of it at the moment. It is believed the seeds are dispersed by explosion or by ants. Of course, there were no seeds when I took the photos so I couldn’t give it a try. I guess that gives me a reason to go back to experiment. 🙂

I am working on the page for this plant…

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Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) on 10-24-21, #851-4.

While behind the back pond, no one could help but notice the Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) along the creek on the other side of the fence. There were several on top of the bank, but the biggest was growing on the side.

Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) on 10-24-21, #851-5.

This fungi is not one you would want to try in your favorite spaghetti sauce. If you eat it, you will start feeling ill in no time but then you will begin to feel better. The damage has already been done and you will die within 4-6 days…

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Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-12.

By now you will know my confusion when it comes to several members of the Symphyotrichum genus. I found several of these plants growing on both sides of a drainage ditch behind the pond in the back pasture. Right off, I knew I hadn’t identified this one before. I was kind of excited but I soon realized I was going to be in a predicament… Here is a member of the aster family, likely a species of Symphyotrichum with leaves that resemble a species of Erigeron… Why in the heck are there single flowers growing on top of clusters of leaves like that?

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-10.

It made absolutely no sense to me at all… Later, I went back to the house and went through the photos for the day, and uploaded the observations on iNaturalist. When I got to these photos, INaturalist suggested Symphyotrichum drummondii… I checked out that species on Missouri Plants and a few other sites linked on Wildflower Search and couldn’t see any resemblance as far as the leaves were concerned. I checked out the other suggestions the list and had the same opinion…  The leaves on those species were fairly long and narrow and some of the flowers weren’t right either.

Then I looked at the photos I took and noticed something…

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-13.

What in the heck is that dead leaf dangling from the stem on this photo? Hmmm… By then it was too late to go to the back of the farm to check. I suppose I could have taken a flashlight.

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-18.

Would you look at that!?!? It’s a long, narrow leaf! Sometimes I just get so excited to find a new species I don’t look at all the plants in the colony. You know, the bigger picture. Not only the leaves, but the basal flowers on this plant had changed color and they looked like a “certain” species. The disc. flowers change color with the species I am debating which gives it the common name…

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-21.

What about the involucral bracts? Always check them out with members of the family Asteraceae. They can be appressed, recurved, in multiple rows (ETC.) depending on the species, subspecies, or varieties. In the particular species I am debating, they are appressed this in the above photo.

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-24.

There are very few of these longer leaves on any of the plants. Most of the lower leaves (basal) fall off on many species during flowering, while the upper leaves are much smaller. Missouri Plants lists 17 species of Symphyotrichum in the state of Missouri. However, they DO NOT have the species I am debating but they mention it as a “look-alike” of S. lanceolatum… I checked the map on the USDA Plants Database for Missouri and the species is supposedly found in many counties but Pettis (where my farm is) is not one of them. It shows they are present in all the counties next to Pettis, including Henry which is across the street… But, you know, they base their evidence mostly on dried, pressed specimens collected many years ago. I checked the BONAP map, which was updated in 2014, and it appears Pettis may be on the map. I say “may” because it is very hard to tell… The species has 60 synonyms and its current scientific name wasn’t accepted until 1982…

So, what species am I debating? Well, I looked at a lot of photos on iNaturalist and several other websites and I found one photo with leaves similar to the plants I had found. It was from an observation that was made by an iNaturalist member in 2013. Fortunately, it was from someone I had contacted before about another species who just happens to be one of the curators. She didn’t know what it was at the time, so she contacted another curator who was good with the genus. I sent her a message and she suggested I contact them as well. SO, I did. I told them I thought it was possibly Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (Calico Aster) and sent links to the observations. They agreed and explained a few things in a reply.

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Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-20.

Then there was this plant growing close to the fence behind the pond which I thought was likely Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Panicled Aster). It is the one the debatable species is a “look-alike’ of and they both grow in the same type of wooded environment. BUT, when I contacted the iNaturalist member, they suggested it was Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) but it could also be an aberrant S. lateriflorum. I agreed with S. ontarionis and the observation became Research Grade.

Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-22.

The flowers are similar at this stage and the disc flowers will change color as with “the other” species. It is possible they are the same species but I can’t determine that until 2022.

Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-23.

There were still quite a few long, narrow leaves on this plant but the upper leaves are completely different than those on the Symphyotrichum lateriflorum along the ditch… That doesn’t mean they still can’t be the same species.

I apologize for not writing complete descriptions of this plant’s stems, leaves, and flowers. I have a lot of photos to add I took over the summer, several species pages to write, and updates to make. It is a wintertime project but I do get behind. There are several links below with great descriptions. I will write descriptions as soon as I have time.

HMMM… I forgot to take a photo of this plant’s involucral bracts… GEEZ!

I am using the species name Symphyotrichum lanceolatum for this plant because it was the first name suggested when I uploaded each photo individually on iNaturalist. I read about the species and looked at A LOT of photos before agreeing with that name then I submitted the observation as such. Still, even though there is a name attached, it is unlikely any members will agree. I may have to seek out someone who has posted observations of the “debatable” species that have become Research Grade to get their opinion.

Sometimes a species can grow weird leaves when under stress, like when a deer eats the top off of the plant or its leaves. That could be the case with the debatable plant… So, now I am in the waiting game…

UPDATE on 10-27-21: This species has been confirmed as Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) by one of the curators of iNaturalist. The curator said it was either S. ontarionis or an aberrant S. lateriflorum. We went with S. ontarionis for the moment and the observation is now Research Grade as such. 🙂

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Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) on 10-25-21, #852-10.

Besides the species I photograph and get an ID of, there are hundreds (probably thousands) I overlook for one reason or another. I have been tromping around the area between the back pond and the fence since I was a kid. Climbing over dead trees, crawling under limbs, and pushing rose vines out of the way just to get through this area. It has always remained a natural habitat and always will be as long as I am here. There is quite a diversity of species all around this area and across the fence along the creek on the neighbor’s side (which used to be my grandparents). The Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) have been here a very long time.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) on 10-25-21, #852-11.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus is a member of the plant family Caprifoliaceae along with honeysuckle with arching branches. They thrive in a wide variety of conditions in the central and eastern half of North America from Canada down into Mexico. They are an arching, suckering shrub that produces bell-shaped flowers in the summer and fruit (called drupes) in the fall. I have not seen their flowers because I likely hadn’t been to the area during that time or just ignored them. Information says a wide variety of birds and small mammals eat the fruit and “browsers” use the plant for food…

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Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-9.

In the same area I saw this leaf that looked like it was from a grapevine but it had these weird seeds growing from a petiole in the axial. Then I remembered it was likely Geum canadense (White Avens). Without flowers, it is sometimes difficult to remember what you find this time of the year. This is the same area where I first identified this species in May of 2018. I have since found them growing in other areas.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-8.

I was glad to be able to get a good photo of the dried achenes with hooked tips…

The next observation on the 25th made me very happy…

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Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) at 37″ tall on 10-25-21, #852-4.

I continued walking south toward the end of the area where I spotted a very suspicious looking plant… I looked it over very well and was almost getting goosebumps. OK, so it was a little chilly and the wind was blowing. I looked around and found a bigger patch with several plants… Could it actually be???

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-25-21, #852-5.

I checked the leaves, and sure enough, these plants are definitely Elephantopus carolinianus… WHAT A FIND! During the summer I don’t hardly ever get a chance to walk to the back of the farm because the grass in the hayfield gets so tall and thick it is hard to walk through. As a result, I missed these growing and flowering. Even when I did venture to the area I hadn’t walked through the spot I found them. Now that I know, there will be nothing to stop me next summer.

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-25-21, #852-6.

And we have seed… The bracts fall off rather than just the seed falling out.

I am very happy now to find a good-sized colony on my farm. This is a very interesting species for sure.

After that, I walked back to the house.

Maybe next year, maybe even this next week, I will take the mower and mow a path around the farm to areas I want to keep an eye on. That sounds like a good idea to me. 🙂

Until next time… Be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

Silly Spiranthes (Ladies Tresses)

Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Ladies Tresses) on 10-3-18, #514-26.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The strange fall, or autumn, weather continues. I’m not complaining because it is pleasant and the potted plants are still on the porches. The low Monday evening is supposed to be 39° (likely around 6 AM Tuesday morning) but then back up again.

This post is about my continuing dilemma with the Ladies Tresses on my farm. You can basically take a 25′ swath and go across the farm and find a few scattered here and there and nowhere else. It’s weird.

So, it all began on October 3 in 2018 when I found my first Ladies Tresses. I joined iNaturlist in March 2018 but I didn’t start using it to identify plants or upload observations until 2019. Basically, I was doing my initial searches looking at photos on Missouri Plants and Wildflower Search to figure out what species I found. Missouri Plants lists six species in Missouri and there are 19 on Wildflower Search. As of 10-25-21 when I wrote this post, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 39 accepted species worldwide. The genus is a member of the plant family Orchidaceae with 729 genera…

Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Ladies Tresses) on 10-4-18, #515-20.

A member suggested the first four photos were Spiranthes cernua commonly known as Nodding Ladies Tresses. I had just begun to identify the wildflowers on the farm, so I readily agreed and I think he was correct. When I clicked on “agree”, the observation said Spiranthes cernua Complex… Little did I know at the time, when it comes to nature “complex” means complicated…

One thing weird that threw me off was Ladies Tresses grow in a spiral. Well, none of the plants in the hayfield, and there were several, were growing like that. Information for Spiranthes cernua from Missouri Plants says, “Flowers appearing as though in 2 or more ranks or intertwined spirals along the flowering stems or sometimes no spirals discernable.”

Then in 2019…

Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies’ Tresses) on 9-1-19, #620-58.

I spotted a group of Ladies Tresses on September 1 in 2019 close to where I spotted them in 2018. At the time, I really didn’t notice they were somewhat different, so I uploaded four more photos from that observation and selected Spiranthes cernua Complex. This time, the same member suggested Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies’ Tresses), and another member agreed. I did some research and agreed then the observation became research grade. They were indeed different from the 2018 observation.

Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies’ Tresses) on 9-1-19, #620-60.

The flowers were much smaller for one thing… Sometimes when you are fairly new to wildflower hunting you don’t remember certain things from one year to the next.

Spiranthes lacera var. gracilis (Southern Slender Ladies’ Tresses) on 9-1-19, #620-61.

One thing you don’t have to worry about is the leaves. They completely disappear on all but one species found in Missouri at flowering time.

I didn’t take any photos of the Ladies Tresses in 2020 but I did in 2021…

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-21-21, #848-1.

I had gone back out to the SOUTH hayfield on October 21 to see if I could find the Elephantopus again. Not only could I NOT find it, I found the critter in the above photo. Well, I knew it was a Ladies Tresses but its flowers hadn’t opened. I didn’t put the observation on iNaturalist because I figured it would be a guessing game and maybe no one would even pay much attention like that. The flowers help determine the species of any plant.

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-22-21, #849-21.

I went back the next day and took a few more photos, however, all but one were blurry. I submitted it on iNaturalist as Spiranthes cernua Complex, but no one visited that observation…

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-23-21, #850-1. Notice the “sheathing bracts” on the stem?

I went back on the 23rd to take more photos, determined to take some good close-ups of these small flowers. There weren’t very many of these plants to begin with, maybe 3-4, so I had to search for them.

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-23-21, #850-2.

I had my magnifying glass with me to use on the front of the lens of my camera. It works very well, especially when you zoom in a little and get it focused. Practice makes perfect and you still have to take A LOT of photos. Especially of very small flowers.

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-23-21, #850-3.

These plants were growing in a nice spiral which I think is caused by their flowers turning upside down during their development. I read that somewhere…

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-23-21, #850-4.

They certainly looked like Spiranthes cernua to me…

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) on 10-23-21, #850-5.

You can see the frilly lower lip in the above photo.

SO, I submitted the fine photos from the 23rd on iNaturalist as Spiranthes cernua. Wouldn’t you know, the same two guys from before both DISAGREED! One suggested Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses) and the other agreed. SO, again, I did some research and there was a problem… The two upper sepals (one on each side) “should” spread more outward and sometimes curve upward a little. I put that in a comment, and one of the guys said they don’t always curve outward… SO, I did a little more research and found out he was correct. SO, I agreed and the observation became research grade.

You can’t read information from just one or two websites. You have to read everything you can find because some of what you read isn’t exactly correct or up-to-date. For example, some sites may have information on a species that is (or was) a synonym so their descriptions may be somewhat whacky. Spiranthes is a complicated genus that has been divided several times. Some species have their own varieties that act a little different than the species.

The Missouri Plants website is great and they use descriptions from Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri. However, a lot of plant names have changed since the last three volumes were published. Spiranthes magnicamporum was a synonym of S. cernua until 1973 because they are basically indistinguishable from one another. Both have yellow throats, but maybe a little bolder with S. magnicamporum. Both have frilly lower petals that curve downward. Both have relatively larger flowers than other members of the genus. S. cernua flowers from August-November, while S. magnicamporum flowers from September-November. The leaves on both species are absent at flowering, but Missouri Plants says they are reduced to scales on S. cernua white they are reduced to sheathing bracts on the other. I did notice the bracts on the stems of the S. magnicamporum… Both species have a scent, but I could smell nothing by the 24th after their flowers had started to turn a little brown…

OH, I almost forgot… S. magnicamporum is part of the Spiranthes cernua Complex which includes five species and a hybrid. Actually, two of the species are ancient hybrids as well.

I think it is interesting to have three species on my farm when there aren’t that many of them. In 2018, I remember there were quite a lot of S. cernua in one location. I also found it odd the S. magnicamporum are only in the south hayfield, while the other two were in the north hayfield. Strangely, these plants don’t grow in colonies (at least not here) but are quite a distance from one another and there is always just one stem. Since they are perennial, you would think there would be multiple plants together. But then again, there are many species that do the same thing.

Getting back to the Elephantopus I mentioned I was trying to find when I stumbled upon the S. mag. (getting tired of writing the species name)… I just happened to find a single plant, which I posted about earlier. I went back the second day and found it quite easily. I have looked for it multiple times since where I knew it was and could not find it again. There is a small oak tree (or what appears to be an oak in its photo) growing a few inches from it. They are parallel with the second utility pole in kind of a bare spot with dead grass… Both the Elephantopus and tree are MIA… It is so funny to find a single plant somewhere and needing to find it again and it is nowhere to be found. How can I find it twice and it disappears? Maybe a deer ate it and is somewhere laughing at me while I look for it. 🙂 I have waited for plants to flower before and the deer come along and eat the tops right off but there are usually plenty.

OH, on Sunday the 25th, I identified five species. Well, actually four since one is highly debatable. One is rare for this area and it is a single plant. How it got here is a very good question… They will be on the next post, but I need more photos of two of them. Hopefully, they won’t vanish. One sticks out like a sore thumb so I think I can find it again without any problem. 🙂

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

 

The Stapelia gigantea Flower…

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-22-21, #849-22.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. After it was dark on Friday evening, I turned the light on the back porch to check on the bud on the Stapelia gigantea and measure it again. The last time I measured it a few days earlier it was 5 3/4″ long. Low and behold, one of the petals had opened and another one had started.

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-22-21, #849-23.

I checked on it several times during the night and there was no change.

THEN, THE NEXT MORNING…

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-7.

Now, that is pretty exciting! Finally, after several years of buds falling off after I moved it in the house, it has bloomed!

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) at 13″ wide on 10-23-21, #850-8.

It measured 13″ wide…

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-9.

You can read about these plants and watch videos, but seeing it in person is so much better. Those red lines are raised and they kind of remind me of ripples in a pond.

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-10.

It is definitely hairy…

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-11.

How neat is that?

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-12.

SO, what does it smell like? When I first took a whiff I smelled nothing.

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, Starfish Flower) on 10-23-21, #850-13..

Then at 4:30, I went to check again. I opened the sliding door and I could smell a faint odor. Naturally, I stuck my nose right in the flower, and HOLY CRAP! It truly does smell like rotting flesh. Honestly, I won’t be doing that again. I have smelled so bad stuff in my life, but that is one I definitely won’t forget. GEEZ!!! Hopefully, the Turkey Buzzards won’t come to my back porch. 🙂

Seriously, it made me remember everything bad I have ever smelled and they now seem pale in comparison. I am VERY thankful the temperatures have been mild enough I didn’t have to bring it in the house! GEEZ! 🙂

There is STILL no chance of an “F” in the forecast.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

Wildflower Catch Up With A Few Bugs…

Hello everyone! It is an interesting time of the year to go wildflower hunting since most of them have gone to seed. There are still a few flowering, especially where the hay was cut. I also noticed there weren’t as many insects as last week but there are still a few Monarch butterflies. The weather has been nice for the most part but we are supposed to have a couple of chilly nights. After that, it will warm up a little again.

Of course, the seeds of the Desmodium paniculatum (Panicledleaf Ticktrefoil) are always trying to hitch a ride. I have done pretty well avoiding them until the last three times I went out. This time was the worse. I walked through the middle of the south hayfield to avoid them which turned out to be a good idea. Unfortunately, I had to go through them to get to where I was going. I was on a mission. 🙂 Then when was finished, I walked out of the briars and looked at my boots. GEEZ! I should start wearing my old rubber boots with the hole in them. After that, I didn’t bother trying to avoid them. When I came back to the house, I removed them off my pants then sat down on an old telephone pole to pick them off my boots.  I removed them from one boot then thought how glad I was they weren’t those other stick tights (from the Torilis japonica). I pulled off the other boot and sat my foot right down on a cluster of the other stick tights I hadn’t noticed when I sat down. GEEZ!!! My sock was LOADED! One of their common names is the Tall Sock Destroyer and they live up to their name.

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) seed pod…

I originally went out for the walk to check on the last of two milkweed seed pods for the experiment crew at the Augusta University Biology Department in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are studying the Showy and Common Milkweed and the hybrid species between the two. The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) grows in the eastern half of the United States and the Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) grows in the western half. There is an area where they overlap and hybridize in the middle. They contacted members of iNaturalist that submitted observations of these milkweeds to participate in the study. I agreed to participate so they sent envelopes for the samples. I mailed the two pods on Thursday.

Their information says, “We gave been collecting genetic, metabolomic (any small-molecule chemicals found within a tissue sample), and phenotypic (physical characteristics, such as shape of the leaves, color of flowers, etc.) data by taking leaf and seed pod samples from plants in each species zone and within the hybrid zone. Once we have finished collecting this data, we will begin to analyze the differences between the two species and their hybrid species. With this information, we hope to begin to understand why these species remain geographically separated and how genes are passed between them.” 

On the way to where the milkweed was, I stumbled on something very interesting…

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-9.

I remember seeing maroonish leaves on another plant just like this one closer to the briar patch a while back, but this one was more in the center of the hayfield. I didn’t pay much attention earlier because I thought the plant had maroonish leaves because maybe something was wrong with it. You just never know… Weird things happen in nature. Anyway, Wednesday I saw this one with flowers and I completely didn’t recognize it. Of course, I took A LOT of photos. 🙂

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-10.

The large leafy bracts should have turned a light on because I have identified only one species like it. The flowers weren’t open which is probably why I still didn’t recognize it.

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-11.

After I went through the 94 photos I had taken for the day and deleted the ones I didn’t want. I separated them by species and uploaded the observations on iNaturalist that I already knew. Then, I took the first photo for this one and uploaded it for ID. It suggested ONLY Elephantopus carolinianus. I thought it was completely whacky! I did the same to the second and it said the same thing. I took a better look at the second photo and then it hit me. HOLY CRAP! I have Elephantopus in my hayfield!

I first saw this species on September 9 in 2019 while I was herding cattle on a friend’s mother’s farm. I was in a dead run going down a wooded hillside toward the creek when I spotted them. I almost rolled the rest of the way down. Anyway, you can read about it on THIS POST.

The Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) is definitely one of the most interesting wildflowers I have ever seen. I will try and get photos of its flowers opened up, but you can click on the name above to go it its own page.

Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory), 10-12-21

There were several Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory) blooming in the south hayfield as well. I don’t have a page for this one because I just got a proper ID. 🙂

Then I walked to the southeast corner of the hayfield to go to the back pasture, through the blackberry briars…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) in the southeast corner of the back pasture on 10-12-21, #843-28.

The Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) are still blooming up a storm. They attract A LOT of pollinators and other insects that have a hard time finding food this time of the year. Normally, they probably aren’t flowering that much now, but they regrew after the hay was cut. I do not have a page for this species yet.

Danaus plexippus (Monarch) on the Vernonia missurica on 10-12-21, #843-5.

There are still a few Monarch’s flying around the ironweed but not near as many as last week. This one let me get very close.

Euthochtha galeator (Helmeted Squash Bug) on 10-12-21, #843-22.

There are many species of insects that look similar to this Helmeted Squash Bug. This one was feeding on what looked like whiteflies when I first saw it and it didn’t really like my intrusion. I asked it to pose and give me a big smile but it kept looking at its food.

Croton capitatus (Wooly Croton) on 10-12-21, #843-3.

There is a lot of Croton capitatus (Hogwort, Wooly Croton, Goatweed Etc.) flowering in the back pasture right now… There aren’t usually that many here…

Then I walked north toward the…

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-7.

The Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) tree in the back pasture is really LOADED this year.

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-8.

Besides being able to cut the milkweed seed pod and seeing the Elephantopus, being able to eat a few persimmons made the whole walk worthwhile. Then I walked to the house to pick off the mess on my boots.

That’s all I have for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant) Bud…

Stapelia gigantea buds on 10-11-12, #842-1.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The largest Stapelia gigantea buds are getting bigger!

Stapelia gigantea bud at 4 3/4″ long on 10-11-21, #842-2.

The biggest bud is now 4 3/4″ long. AWESOME! No “F” in the forecast the temps are getting cooler. The Weather Channel is forecasting a low of 39° F Saturday night, but the National Weather Service says 42°.

Until next time, take care, be safe, and always be thankful!

Stapelia gigantea Buds Getting Bigger!

Stapelia gigantea buds on 10-4-21, #840-6.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well. It is getting exciting on the back porch as the Stapelia gigantea buds are getting bigger.

Stapelia gigantea bud at 1 3/4″ long on 10-4-21, #840-7.

The biggest bud is now 1 3/4″ long. There are several buds but some are quite small… Keep your fingers crossed (and maybe your toes). 🙂

There is no “F” in the forecast, so maybe they will continue to grow at least the bigger one open before I have to move the plants inside for the winter. Even so, when we do get an “F” it warms back up again. You just never know…

Until next time, stay well, be safe, and always be thankful!

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 3 PLUS A SURPRISE!

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley)…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. October is here once again and some of the wildflowers aren’t looking their best. There are a lot of insects and butterflies feeding right now. I have taken a lot of photos the last few days and I am getting behind. 🙂 I now have 655 observations posted on iNaturalist covering 343 species.

This saga of the wild weeds (and wildflowers) and problem areas on the farm continues as I walked out of the main hayfield to the front pasture…

The above photo is the dreaded Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley). There doesn’t seem to be as much of this stuff growing as there has been in the past. That is certainly fine with me…

 

Eleusine indica (Goosegrass)…

As you can imagine, there are A LOT of different species of grass growing on the farm. Heck, pretty much every yard around the world has a lot of species of grass. I don’t know about you, but the worse grass in my yard and pastures has got to be the Eleusine indica (Goosegrass). It is the grass with very tough blades you have to mow over multiple times and even then it still looks raggy. The second worse is the crabgrass which I don’t really want to talk about…

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper)…

There are still a few fairly good-sized colonies of Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) here and there but nothing like 2019 when I identified seven species. That was definitely the year for the Smartweeds.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed)…

The Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) is also scattered among the grass in the front pasture, mainly around the two old mulberry trees. The other six species are scattered about here and there.

 

Hmmm…

I walked over to what used to be a smallish Multiflora Rose. Dad and I pulled up several rose bushes with the tractor a few years ago but left this one. It wasn’t that big and is it along the drainage area where water runs from the pond. When we pulled up the others it left a HUGE hole and I didn’t that that would be a good idea in this area. Three years ago a White Mulberry grew up in it, then last year I noticed a Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) in the mix. To the left is a small colony of Solidago (Goldenrod) and the other cluster is either Eupatorium altissimum (Tall Thoroughwort) or Eupatorium serotinum (Late Boneset/Late Thoroughwort). Those two species look a lot alike and I didn’t take a closer look…

Both of those species have seen better days throughout the farm. There are still quite a few Solidago in bloom along the main hayfield. I am not really sure which species of Solidago are growing here but likely Solidago altissima and maybe also S. gigantea. The galls on a few plants are generally found on both of those species.

 

Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur)…

I am not really sure where I took this photo of the Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur). It is growing here and there and seems to be getting carried away again. I had been “working on it” for several years and seemed to pretty much have it whipped. Well, it seems to be coming back with reinforcements! I don’t have a page for the Cocklebur…

I walked across the ditch to get photos of what I saw as I started the walk. It was this mass of pink right behind the pond in the front pasture I had somehow just noticed. Probably because I hadn’t been paying attention, but that just can’t be. Just last week, or maybe the week before, I had taken photos of a few plants near the pond and I didn’t notice it then. I am saving the photos for the end of this post so I can end it well… 🙂

After I took some photos behind the pond, I walked toward the fence along the road in the front pasture to the biggest eyesore here…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

The Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) has spread into the pasture along the fence. This is a big problem…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

I put the camera across the fence to get a photo of the mess between the fence and the street. In the first place, the fence is a little too close to the ditch, and the ditch is cut too steep to mow. Whoever did this had no concept of maintenance and it was done MANY years ago. The county used to come along several times during the summer but now we are lucky if they come once a year. At the end of the yard, there is a telephone pole between the fence and ditch making it impossible to get a mower along the fence. To mow the ditch, I would have to drive down the street to where the gate is and come up… Then, I would have to back the mower all the way back down to the gate… Since the ditch is cut like it is, and part of it has washed out a little, it is kind of unsafe. To fix this problem, the fence would have to be removed and moved back and the ditch smoothed out at a slope allowing it to be mowed safely. It is a real eyesore and I don’t like it one bit. I don’t like using chemicals, but this area needs cut and sprayed. Water from the ditch runs to the lake at the park… Perhaps I can talk to the county or the conservation department to find a solution.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because I am very thankful to be here. I have a lot to be thankful for. It seems like I have been given an opportunity and I would like to do much better but I am not quite sure how to go about it…

Getting closer to the surprise…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

One of the first plants to grow after the hay is cut is the Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed). Over the years, trying to tell the difference between Verononia baldwinii (Western or Baldwin’s Ironweed) and V. missurica has been somewhat difficult. I know the difference but couldn’t find enough of the latter to get a good confirmation to prove to myself that’s what it was. To make it worse, the two species hybridize… Earlier, all the ironweed were definitely Vernonia baldwinii.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

Now, most of the ironweed are likely most definitely (GEEZ) Vernonia missurica. The heads have more florets (30+) and the involucral bracts are appressed. With Vernonia baldwinii, they have fewer florets and the bracts are recurved. I don’t have a page for the Vernonia missurica and the page for Vernonia baldwinii is still in draft mode. They have been driving me crazy so I wanted to make sure what I was talking about. Am I sure now? Well, not really. 🙂

OH, so here we go…

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)… On 9-28-21…

Don’t laugh like I am. This is probably the first pink flowers I have gotten excited about in my life. For one, the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) is the first species in the genus I have been able to properly identify and it become research grade on iNaturalist. The flowers are 1 1/2″ wide while the others are 1/2″ (more or less) and most commonly white or a pale lavender-pink. I am sure, almost, I have identified one species as Symphyotrichum pilosum (Hairy White Oldfield Aster) but I can’t get anyone on iNaturalist to stick their neck out and agree. I have submitted a few species that are difficult with the same results… Birds are easy and every species I have submitted are research grade.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) on 9-30-21, 1 1/2″ diameter…

The Missouri Plants website lists 16 species of Symphyotrichum in Missouri and most are pink. The USDA Plants Database lists 154 accepted species (including infraspecific names)in North America. Plants of the World Online lists 95 species worldwide including 12 hybrids but not including possible varieties. To find that out, I would have had to click on 95 pages. For grins, I checked out The Plant List which hasn’t been maintained since 2013. It lists 143 species (including infraspecific names), a whopping 1,116 synonyms, and only 37 species unplaced at the time. I would count the list on the Wildflower Research website, but I am sort of exhausted…

the underside and upper leaves of the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)…

Getting back to the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae… Information online says their flowers are purplish and rarely pink. Well, these are pink fading to white. It also says they supposedly grow to around 40″ or so tall. Hmmm… There is a problem. The huge clusters of pink flowers are on stems in a circle 10-12′ in diameter.  One could mistakenly “think” the stems are 40″ or so tall. BUT, in the center of the circle, there is a cluster of bent over stems (at the base of the plant). I picked one of the stems up and it was about a foot taller than me and I am 5′ 8ish… The stems had gotten so heavy they fell over and curved upward (like sweet corn). I took more photos on the 30th, including the bent-over stems at the base of the plant. Unfortunately, the photos of the base of the plant were blurry so I will have to try AGAIN. Possibly take a tape measure (and photograph the measurement) to prove my point. That happened before with another species of Symphyotrichum growing along the fence in the front pasture. The stem was growing in the fence and it couldn’t fall over and was close to 8′ tall. I do have photos but I have never been able to identify the species…

Danaus plexippus (Monarch Butterfly) on the New England Aster…

There were a lot of small butterflies and insects were very busy. There was a single Monarch enjoying itself as well.

Jocelyn asked me to take a 20-30 minute video of the farm for her YouTube channel so, on Friday, October 2, I decided I would give it a shot. I took a video of the New England Asters and the butterflies then walked up the ditch toward the main hayfield. There was a large colony of Missouri Ironweed at the corner and there were more Monarch feeding than I ever saw before. There were several colonies of ironweeds scattered about halfway across the front of the hayfield so I continued recording. Then I walked to the back pasture where another pond is. There is a HUGE colony of ironweeds where I found HUNDREDS of Monarch feeding and it was quite a sight. There were even several Hummingbird Moths which are impossible to photograph but they came out quite well on the videos. Well, I took 17 videos normally 3 minutes or so each. A couple were 7 minutes because I got a little carried away and a few are around a minute because I had to stop recording to take photos. She will just have to splice the videos together to get 20 minutes or so. I have to upload the videos on Skype, and if I make them too long it takes forever and sometimes it won’t work at all. If I had a better way to do it I would…

Well, I better close for now. I took quite a few photos this past week and I need to do some catching up. 🙂 We have FINALLY gotten some rain…

Until next time, take care, be safe, and always be thankful!

 

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 2…

Hello again, everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are doing well. This is round two about the problem areas and wild weeds on the farm. I am sure many of you have all encountered similar issues one way or another. Even if you have a house and a regular-sized yard, you still have to deal with weeds and trees sprouting up around your house, fences, and so on. They are more of a problem if you have a garden and flower beds. However, they are more manageable.

I had to add “ETC.” to the title because not everything on this post is a weed or a problem

Well, I have around 3 acres of yard to mow and it isn’t laid out in such a way that I could cut back. The areas that are grown-up now were like that when I moved back here in 2013 except one… I attempted and partially succeeded, clearing off the area north of the chicken house. The problem with clearing and cutting down trees is what to do with the brush… If you keep after them when they are small it is much less of an issue. Now, you may be thinking I should leave the trees and just work around them. That, my friends, depends on the trees, where they are, and how close they are together.

So, the above photo is the jungle that has grown behind the barn. When I moved here in 2013, I cut the trees away from the barn and out of the fences around the corral. Back then I didn’t know about Tordon so they grew back. I’m not sure how many times I cut the trees out of the fence, but as you can see, they are way beyond being easy. The trees in the mess are Chinese Elm, some kind of soft maple, and mostly White Mulberry. They all grow very fast and can be hard to manage. There are also Multiflora Rose, Smilax, and who knows what else in the mix. I get busy in the spring, then it gets hot, then rains. I can come up with several excuses… I am 60, but that one isn’t good enough!

What I would really love to have is a BIG commercial chipper hooked on a trailer to put all the debris. That would be AMAZING. Then I could use the mulch in the flower beds. I would only cut down the scrub trees and leave the good ones.

From this area, I was thinking about going to the pasture. But again, I was met head-on…

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

This is the other side of the Ambrosia trifida Giant Ragweed the last post was closed with. To the left is a gate, the chicken house, and part of the yard. The ragweed wasn’t near this bad last year and it won’t get like this next year. I promised that to myself. There are no cows here now to keep the weeds somewhat topped so they just grow. All but the three acres where the house and yard are leased out to a friend of mine. The guy I help feed cows when he needs me, do his planters and landscape maintenance, wildflower hunt in his woods and pasture, and whatever else he needs me to do. I still have dad’s old Allis-Chalmers 170 and the mower so I will likely get it going and get these weeds cut down. BUT, this is ragweed and mowing right now wouldn’t be a good idea. Several years ago I mowed the ragweed down along the pond bank about this time. Dad always told me he couldn’t go near the stuff but I hadn’t really had any issues… Until after I mowed it down. It didn’t bother me so much at the time, but every year it seems it gets a little worse. Dust and pollen especially if it is sort of windy. I am just going to get a few of those blue COVID masks and see if that helps. Even mowing the crabgrass in the yard right now with all the dust from it being so dry stops me up a little. The goal is to keep this area, and a few others not suitable for hay, mowed next year whether I use my old tractor or Kevin’s. My mower is like maybe 6′ wide, but Kevin’s is maybe 18′ or more with wings. His tractor is also MUCH bigger.

I wanted to walk to the pasture but I decided not to walk in the ragweed like I did before. I decided to walk all the way around the pond.

Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth)

Before I forget, also behind the barn is a LARGE colony of Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth). It is definitely a weed I love to dislike A LOT (hate is what I would prefer to say). They have been an issue in this area since I was a kid and I watched my grandpa work them over several times. The soil in this area is very loose because it is where dad and I fed the cows hay. Consequently, I used the composted manure in the garden and flower beds so I have this creature coming up in those areas as well. It is a real pain in more ways than one because of its very thorny stems. They produce A LOT of seeds that are edible. Well, so are its leaves but I don’t particularly want any.

The pond is very low now for several reasons. One is the lack of rain, the other is that the cows made a ditch in the bank where they walked to the pond. During periods of heavy rain, the water washed it out even more.

 

Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed)…

I walked around to the backside of the pond and across the ditch to an area that is very difficult to maintain. When the cows were still here, the Arctium minus (Lessor Burdock) held this territory. The cows liked laying on the pond bank under an old Chinese Elm and Red Mulberry. Last spring the old elm fell over during a storm which changed the environment somewhat… Now there are several fairly large Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed) growing here. The largest of these are growing in the south hayfield. I always thought Pokeweed was a neat plant, so I let a few grow around the fence by the chicken house and one (or two) around the garden. But like I said, even wildflowers can become weeds. Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Cardinals supposedly eat the berries but there aren’t enough of them anymore. Where are all the birds anyway?!?! The plants are deadly to pets, humans, and livestock… GEEZ! Well, I guess enough is enough, or too many is not a good thing. I suppose if there aren’t that many birds around here that feed on the berries there is no point in having so many Pokeweed.

 

Hmmm… Blackberries…

GEEZ! There used to be an electric fence where these jfhgssk blackberry vines are. There was just a small group that I mowed off now and then. There may also be a Multiflora Rose in the mess that I kept cut down (anyway, it was somewhere along the fence). How this mess of vines got so big I have no clue… I don’t venture out into the hayfield that much during the summer because the grass grows so thick and tall. It is very exhausting to walk through. Once the hay was cut, I went out and saw several problem areas that weren’t there before.

I turned to the left (north) and walked around the other side of the pond…

 

Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed)…

When I moved back here, and for a few years after, the Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) and Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle) covered the pond bank on the east side. I worked several summers digging the thistles and mowing the Jimson Weed and am glad to say neither one are a problem now. There are still a few here and there but nothing like there was. Thank goodness! In 2019 there was a weed that took over that grew much taller than me. I had never seen them get that tall or in such an abundance. The funny thing is, I didn’t take any photos and I can’t even remember the name. In the few years I have been identifying wildflowers, I don’t think I have taken any of that species photos for ID. HMMM. There never was that much of it but it is very common. Dad always called it Dock or something… Well, I will just have to try to find some…

 

Chenopodium album (Lamb’s Quarters)…

OH, now I remember! Lamb’s Quarters! Chenopodium album! I don’t have a page for this species and I am not sure why. They don’t usually get as big as they were, but the pond bank was another area where hay was fed over the winter.  Lots of “the GOOD STUFF” made this area very fertile but there is a problem with the soil in this area… There are a lot of plants that refuse to grow here perhaps because of the chemicals left in the soil from the Jimson Weed. I have used it in the garden and it seemed fine. The last time I was scooping the stuff up, I noticed the surface was very fine and weird (it looked kind of like A LOT of bug poop). I put some in a flower bed and water wouldn’t even soak up.

Walking to the main hayfield, I walked to the gate…

Vitis sp. and Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)…

This post is where the electric fence hooked up to the gate that went around the hayfield. This small Multiflora Rose and grapevine have been a part of this post for YEARS. I had to give them a good trimming many times!

I walked on up into the pasture because you have to see this…

DOUBLE HMMM!!!

So, when Kevin’s nephew was finished baling the hay and the bales were moved, he asked me if I would check for armyworm damage where the bales had been sitting. I had noticed there were several patches of dead grass but I thought it was from it being cut and lack of rain. He said there were a lot of hayfields in the area that had been affected by armyworms. I couldn’t really tell because I didn’t know what to look for. What I found online wasn’t about armyworms affecting hayfields. Always when hay isn’t moved pretty quick, the grass will die where the bales are sitting. I always tried to move the hay pretty quick, and last year it was moved as soon s it was baled. This year he had a couple of other guys move it and it took them a few weeks. All I noticed under the bales were A LOT of crickets. At the time, there didn’t seem to be that much dead grass, but after a couple of weeks more, I can see it is pretty bad. There is grass sprouting, but it is very slow. Kevin will be drilling new seed when the time is right.

 

Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)…

Most of what is growing in the dead zones are Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle), Veronica missurica (Missouri Ironweed), Cyperus stringosus (Strae-Colored Flatsedge), and a few other miscellaneous clumps of grass. Mostly the Horsenettle. Well, it grows all over the farm. As soon as the hayfields are cut, the first plants to grow are milkweeds, ironweed, and horsenettle. They want to grow like mad so they can bloom like their life depends on it.

As I was working on this post, I realized I needed additional photos. I needed to confirm the Vernonia missurica, which will be on the next post because the photos I took were in a different area. Then I got this idea I needed to have a look at them in the main hayfield to make sure they were the same species. As I walked up the hayfield, I noticed…

There was a couple of White-Tailed Deer grazing just over the top of the hill. Trust me, I zoomed in quite a bit because it would have been impossible to get this close. I was very surprised they didn’t know I was there. I took several photos as the doe on the right walked closer to the other one.

 

Then she spotted me. In a second, the one on the left looked at me and in a flash, they turned and ran. In the early evening, almost every day, a doe and her two fawns walk through the back yard and either go through the fence or walk through the gate by the barn. They go to the pond to have a drink then walk up to the hayfield to graze. I have been very close to them when they are in the yard but I have not had my camera. When they see me, they just stand and look at me motionless before moving on. The last time they didn’t bother to get in a hurry and just slowly walked to the gate. Maybe they are getting used to me.

When I added the observation on iNaturalist as Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer), one member agreed making it research grade. Another member came along and suggested Odocoileus virginianus subsp. macrourus (Kansas White-tailed Deer). I didn’t agree yet because I’m not sure. According to Wikipedia, there are 26 subspecies, 17 in North America and 9 down into South America. Of course, there are disagreements about that and the Wikipedia article may be somewhat out-of-date. 

While I was at it and on the hill, I decided to take a few more shots… You know how one leads to another, then another. 🙂

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)…

The Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) grew very fast after the hay was cut They won’t be able to flower again before the “you know what” but they give it their best shot.

 

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)…

The Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed/Prairie Milkweed) on the other hand, grew, flowered, and already has fruit before I knew it.

I think I will close this post and make the next one about as I leave the main hayfield and go to the front pasture…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 1…

Hedera helix (English Ivy) on the steps of the old foundation…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Friday was very windy as the 90° F temperatures attempt to blow in for a few days. To be honest, when those cool temps start coming, I wouldn’t mind 90° 12 months a year. Maybe in the 80’s.

I was working on the plant family Araliaceae so I went outside to get a photo of the English Ivy growing in and around the old foundation. Then I noticed something growing that hadn’t been there before. The next thing I knew I was taking more photos and even found a new wildflower in the foundation. That triggered an idea for this post. There are areas and plants that need some attention. Has anyone ever asked you, “Is it a wildflower or a weed?” Well, there are plenty of both here and sometimes what was once a wildflower becomes a weed. The word invasive comes to mind… Since I moved back here in 2013 I have noticed how some species are invasive one year and the next they have all but disappeared.

The above photo is the English Ivy (Hedera helix) that has engulfed the basement steps on what used to be my grandparent’s old home. I lived in this house for six years in the early 1980’s and I don’t remember it being here. Now that there is just a foundation, it has run rampant on one wall and a few other areas. It is hard to believe the nine varieties of ivy I grew in pots in Mississippi were the same species… Battling this stuff can get rather ridiculous since it wants to get into the beds next to the foundation.

Mixed in with ivy on what used to be the back porch was a vine I hadn’t noticed before. Then I walked around to the northwest corner, looked into the basement, and found a good-sized mess of it. I first thought it was Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) like what started growing in the Multiflora Rose in the front pasture. With a closer look, I discovered is was something different…

Ampelopsis cordata (Heart Leaf Peppervine)

I took photos and uploaded them on iNaturalist and found out it is “likely” Ampelopsis cordata, the Heart Leaf Peppervine… I say “likely” because no one has had time to approve the observation. Once it gets approved the photos and observation will become research grade.

Ampelopsis cordata (Heart Leaf Peppervine)

It has likely been there for a while by the looks of it, I just haven’t noticed. Some invasive species grow very fast, though. Information says it is native to the southeastern U.S., but it has been observed in half of the United States and parts of Mexico. It is considered an invasive species outside its native range… YIKES!

 

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

I have been battling the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) in the foundation for a long time. I have it almost whipped, or so I like to think. It has also tried growing on the barn and doesn’t like to give up. It is growing on a lot of the trees north of the chicken house and in the fencerows by the hayfield.

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge/Green Poinsettia)

Then I found this plant in the basement that is “likely” Euphorbia dentata whose common name is Toothed Spurge and Green Poinsettia.

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge/Green Poinsettia)

I didn’t want to crawl down into the old basement to get good close-ups so I just zoomed in… It is said to be highly variable depending on its growing conditions (prefers damp areas). This is an annual species and it makes me wonder how it got in the basement in the first place. For sure, it is likely damp down there. 🙂

 

Guess…

I know, I know… A lot of people love the Crape Myrtle but I prefer calling it Crap Mrytle. There were 3-4 growing along the house in the 1980’s and I thought they died one spring. I planted a row of Red Barberry to replace them but the next spring the Crape Myrtle started coming back up. Dad didn’t like the Red Barberry because of its thorns, but I guess he liked the Crape Myrtle. There is only one left in this spot and it has likely been here since 1958 or so. Dad even put two on the south side of their house. GEEZ!!! I will admit, the HUGE Crape Myrtle “trees” growing at the mansion in Mississippi were OK and the one growing at a house across the creek was AWESOME with its beautiful mottled trunk. It was HUGE and AWESOME! I can’t believe I said that! The first time I saw Crape Myrtle trees was when I was living in California for a few months in 2008. I was amazed! They only grow as shrubs here and come up from the ground each spring. The squirrels love their seed pods and nearly drove me insane at the mansion. I had pots hanging in the trees and the squirrels would jump in them to get the seeds. Needless to say, I had to relocate the pots…

Anyway, I will move on from that…

Then, I looked toward the chicken house to my own mistake…

Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail)…

OK, so I should have known better. Actually, I wasn’t 100% sure what would happen, maybe 75%. Anyway, let’s go back in time for a minute so I can explain myself… I was living at the mansion in Leland, Mississippi and I got acquainted with a lady who had an impressive yard. It was so impressive it was in a magazine. I will not mention her name because I am sure she wouldn’t want to be known for this plant. Anyway, when I was at her house for the first time, she had been battling the Equisetum in her backyard and told me how bad it was. She gave me the start of several perennials, one of which I still have. However, she did not give me the start of my Equisetum. Instead, she warned me and didn’t want it at the mansion. Driving around Leland, I found this yard with  HUGE Agave protoamericana and Equisetum growing along the side of her house, in the front yard by the Agave, and even in the ditch (which she kept mowed off). Well, I stopped and got acquainted with the lady and she told me I could dig up some Horsetail… SO, I did. I was very careful with it and kept them in pots. That was in 2010… The next year I put all the plants in the same pot and they took off. I brought the pot with me when I moved back to the farm in 2013 but I still kept them in the pot (which I kept enlarging). I even brought it inside for the winter. After a couple more years I told dad I was thinking about putting it in front of the chicken house. Nothing seemed to grow well there and the moles were bad in that spot. I told him if I did, they might spread like crazy. He said it was OK and we could just keep them mowed off. It seemed to be a slow process at first, but it took over the area in front of the chicken house on the north side. It started growing in the grass, somehow got across (or under) the concrete slab in front of the door t the other side. The Equisetum is no longer just in front of the chicken house…

Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail)…

It started coming up in the grass where I mow then spread into the area that used to be the peach orchard (a LONG TIME AGO). I have ideas for this area and it doesn’t include the Equisetum…

I seriously do like Equisetum hyemale, but I learned my lesson. I will not give any of this to anyone else even though I could probably take 100 pots or more to the greenhouse. It is an amazing species that has been around since prehistoric times and I can see why.

I walked around the south side of the chicken house to get a photo of a complete nightmare…

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)…

The area behind the chicken house is impossible to mow because the roots from the Chinese Elms are sticking up above the ground. The Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed) have taken over. Until a few years ago, the pollen from ragweed didn’t bother me that much. Last fall and this fall I think it has gotten to me a little more. This stuff likes to take over areas it knows I can’t mow.

I walked around the barn into the pasture which will be part 2… I think I will venture farther and take more photos for a few more posts. That way my posts won’t be so long and take so long to get ready.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and always be thankful!

 

 

 

 

Potted Plants Update #4: Plants on the Back Porch

 

Alocasia on the back porch on 9-22-21, #833-1.

Hello everyone. I hope you are doing well. The beginning of September was cool, then back in the 90’s, now it has cooled off again. Right now, the forecast says 90° F again on the 27th! I know what October usually brings but I am trying not to think about it. The plants will have to be brought inside for the winter… It kind of makes one wonder where the summer went. No need to complain about the weather because it wouldn’t do any good. 

This update is about the plants on the back porch. I originally took photos for this post on September 18 but I had to take a few more.

The top photo is the Alocasia on the back porch. From 2013 to 2019 I always kept them around the barrel that covers the old well in the “other yard”. They were in mostly shade with a couple hours of afternoon sun. They always did great there but I had to stretch the hose 150′ to water them. In the spring of 2020 I moved the Alocasia to the back porch because they needed re-potted. I didn’t get them all finished and they remained on the porch in full sun all summer. They did amazingly well so I put them on the back porch again in 2021. Who would have thought they would do so well in full sun in the heat of the summer without their leaves burning. Alocasia like kind of moist soil, but they dried completely out many times without any issues. I think if they were in more shade they would have grown much taller like they did in the other yard. That’s just my opinion…

Cactus on the back porch on 9-22-21.

Most of the cactus are happily sitting on a table on the northeast corner of the back porch. They have all done very well and enjoy the sun and heat. The Mammillaria pringlei has been leaning most of the summer and will get a good straightening soon. I am not going to photograph and measure all of the cactus until I bring them inside for the winter in October. It would be nice if the weather would hold off so they could stay out a little longer, but normally around the second week of October they have to come inside. It isn’t that far off… GEEZ! Typically, once we have an “F”, the temps warm back up and I can put them back outside for a while longer. You just never know…

I will take photos and measurements of the cactus as I bring them inside for the winter.

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Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) at 12″ tall on 8-18-21, #827-4.

The Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) are doing great on the back porch. I put them in their own pots a couple of months ago and then left them in full sun. They have grown from 6 3/4″ tall to 12″ since I brought them home in November last year and they both have a pup.

I really like Aloe and there are MANY on my wish list. I bought this plant unlabeled so I didn’t know what it was at first, but Aloe arborescens was on the list. I have been taking more of an interest in the smaller cultivars, but these plants will definitely not be small… I probably would have brought the pot home even if it was labeled and I knew how large they could become. Well, what can I say? I like Aloe, this species was on my wish list, and I couldn’t help myself. It really doesn’t matter if they are on my list or not, if I see an Aloe I don’t have and it isn’t too expensive, it will come home with me. There are now 585 species of Aloe so I have a long way to go. Not to mention all the cultivars and hybrids!

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Cyanotis somaliensis (Pussy Ears/Furry Kittens) on 8-18-21, #827-6.

I brought this neat little Cyanotis somaliensis (Pussy Ears/Furry Kittens) home from Wagler’s Greenhouse in March and it has done pretty well. I had it on the table under the roof for most of the summer, but when temps cooled off a bit I put it in full sun. Information online says anywhere from full sun to part shade so I thought I would give full sun a try. Well, even though the temps did drop at the beginning of September, they went back up in the 90’s again. I wouldn’t say this plant was too crazy about that…

This pot had no label, but when I saw it I thought it looked like a species of Tradescantia. It turned out to be a plant I hadn’t heard of before although it is in the plant family Commelinaceae with Tradescantia. There are 50 species in the genus and Cyanotis somaliensis is from Somalia… Who would have guessed that? I can hardly wait until it blooms because it will have very weird flowers.

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Delosperma echinatum (Pickle Plant) on 8-18-21, #827-7.

Go ahead and laugh if you want, but this Delosperma echinatum (Pickle Plant) isn’t going to join you. Let’s start from the beginning… I was at Wagler’s Greenhouse on June 18 when I saw this strange critter. Well, you know I had to pick it up. I saw it had been started from a stem cutting by the way it was growing and it needed to be tidied up a bit. It had no label but Mrs. Wagler told me it was a Pickle Plant. There was another much better-looking and bushier plant in the greenhouse but a lady had it in her hand…

I brought several plants home that day but I was in the middle of working on a friend’s planters and landscaping. Once I came back home, I put the Pickle Plant on the back porch, and a couple of others, while the rest went to the front porch. I didn’t get their photos taken until the 24th, and I still just have a draft page for the Delosperma echinatum… So, clicking on the name will get you nowhere at the moment.

SO, on August 20, I decided it was time I had better do something about the Pickle Plant… I had already horrified it enough every time I watered it… I kept telling it I was going to give it a new pot and give it a good trimming. It just kept growing as if it thought it needed to do better to avoid getting a trimming.

Delosperma echinatum (Pickle Plant) on 8-20-21, #828-3.

I’m not sure what this stuff is growers are using for potting soil this year. This plant was evidently one of “those” that Mrs. Wagler’s son brought from the auction. All of them I brought home and repotted have been in this spongy feeling mixture. It really soaks up water just like a sponge.

Delosperma echinatum (Pickle Plant) on 8-20-21, #828-5.

Once I cut the stem and took leaf cuttings, I cleaned freed the plant’s roots from that weird stuff and placed them all around in the pot. I didn’t even let them scab over for a few days like I normally would have. They seem fine even after 28 days. GEEZ! Time flies!

I guess I should say something about the Delosperma echinatum… It was first named Mesembryanthemum echinatum in 1788 and renamed Delosperma echinatum in 1927. There are a few other synonyms it has accumulated over the years…

This species hails from the Eastern Cape in South Africa. They produce greenish-yellow Mesembryanthemum-like flowers and their leaves and stems have these odd spiny water vesicles… Well, that’s what LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) call them… It is definitely a neat plant…

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The white-flowered Epiphyllum oxypetalum on 8-18-21, #827-10.

So, if you want to talk about strange plants, the Epiphyllum oxypetalum fits the bill. I am thankful to Tony Tomeo for sending these plants to me last December. They have done quite well despite a little neglect. Information online says they need consistently moist soil and to water them when the surface is dry. Well, there have been times when they were VERY dry and they just kept growing. Since they are epiphytic and lithophytic tropical/subtropical plants, in their native habitat they grow in trees and on rocks and get a lot of their moisture from the air. I suppose all the humidity we have during the summer kept them going.

I haven’t written a page for these plants yet because I have no idea where to start. Tony sent one huge mass of the white-flowered variety which I left intact when I put them in a pot. It has grown like crazy and is just simply weird… Farther down you will see a photo of two other white-flowered plants and one that will have fink and white bi-color flowers. The red-flowered plant slowly fizzled out. The bigger pot is on a table on the back porch (under the roof) with the Stapelia gigantea and Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri. They get plenty of morning sun and light shade the remainder of the day.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum flattened stems on 8-18-21, #827-11.

The strangest thing about the Epiphyllum oxypetalum is its multitude of weird stem shapes. What appear to be leaves are flattened stems. They are leafless plants.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum square stems on 8-18-21, #827-12.

Then there are these square stems…

Epiphyllum oxypetalum on 8-18-21, #827-13.

The plant to the left is a Stapelia gigantea… These 4-angled stems with hair are on the Epiphyllum oxypetalum. There are also five-angled stems that become four-angled closer to the tip.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum round stems on 8-18-21, #827-14.

Then there are the round stems… Some are quite hairy and they are very long.

The base of the Epiphyllum oxypetalum on 8-18-21, #827-15.

It has been very interesting watching this plant grow. Hopefully, it will bloom at some point…

Epiphyllum oxypetalum (white flowered) (right)) and pink and white (left) on 8-18-21, #827-16.

I take the plant shelf from the bedroom in the spring and use it for pots during the summer. It has also made a great place for the pink and white bi-colored and smaller white plants. The one on the left doesn’t have a strong root system and tries to fall out of the pot.

Smaller Epiphyllum oxypetalum (white-flowered) on 8-18-21, #827-17.

I don’t remember for sure, but I think the fatter stem had fallen off the bigger clump when I unwrapped the plants. It didn’t have any roots so I put it in a small pot by itself and over the summer it has grown offsets. What is strange is that this pot has been in full sun all summer and has dried out multiple times. It has not gotten sunburned or shriveled up from lack of moisture. I was very impressed when it started growing offsets when the original stem hasn’t grown a lick. This pot will be interesting to watch grow and I will no doubt learn a lot from it since it started out so small.

The Epiphyllum oxypetalum has several common names including Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus, Lady of the Night, Princess of the Night, Night-Blooming Cereus, Orchid Cactus, Night Queen, and Jungle Cactus. It shares a few of those names with other species in other genera. Of course, they are night bloomers… There are 14 synonyms from three genera and they are members of the plant family Cactaceae.

They are Mexican natives but have naturalized down into South America, parts of the United States, and MANY other subtropical and tropical parts of the world. They are very easy to grow and are popular throughout the world which has allowed them to escape captivity.

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Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) on 9-18-21, #831-1.

The Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) has been steadily growing all summer, but it really jumped in September. This is a really neat plant and a Kalanchoe that is really worth giving a shot.

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) at 12″ tall x 22″ wide on 9-18-21, #831-2.

It has grown to 12″ tall x 22″ wide but it may be that tall since it is leaning toward the sun. I rotated it again to lean in the other direction. I have put it in the full sun a few times which it doesn’t seem to mind. I have a tendency to keep my plants in a little shade when some of them would do just fine in more sun.

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) offset at 4″ wide on 9-18-21, #831-3.

The largest “plantlet” is now 4″ wide. If you have one of these it may be a good idea to set the pot on something to raise the plant a little to keep its leaves from touching the table. Putting them in a hanging pot would also be a good idea.

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Mesembryanthemum cordifolia ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant) on 9-19-21, #832-5.

I first started using the Mesembryanthemum cordifolia ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant) in 2019 in a friend’s planters and they did GREAT. I used them again this year and hopefully, they will be available for years to come. I decided I would bring home several from the greenhouse for my own planter this year. They branch out and fill in a planter very well and trail over the sides. If you have a bare spot all you have to do is break (or cut) a piece off and stick it in the soil and it will take right off. The red flowers really stand out but they close early in the afternoon. The flowers look bright red, but in the photos they are more of a pinkish-red… The flowers open in the morning and seem to be almost closed by noon even though the pot is in full sun all day. Even now that the day length is shorter, is still in the sun until a little after 5 PM. I prefer to take photos of plants when they aren’t in the sun…

This species was named Mesembryanthemum cordifolium by Carl Linnaeus the Younger (Carl Linnaeus’s son) in 1872. It was moved to the Aptenia genus (est. 1925) and renamed Aptenia cordifolia in 1927. It was returned to the Mesembryanthemum genus in 2007, but in 2009 several botanists suggested the move be reversed. I have to re-read my notes because I see where the Wikipedia article says it was moved back in 1997 when the whole Aptenia genus was reduced to synonymy… Now, where did I get 2007? Ahhh… The paper published about the change was written in 2007, so where did the author of the Wikipedia article get 1997? Oh well, he is still using The Plant List as a reference which has been out of date since 2013.

You know I get somewhat frustrated when a cultivar name is used instead of an infraspecific name (like subspecies, variety, or form). In this case, I have no clue where the variegated leaves even came from. The wild species has green leaves… Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) lists the scientific name for it as Mesembryanthemum cordifolium f. variegata hort. (“hort.” stands for “horticulture(al) use”). The trend is to use ‘Variegata’ to distinguish it from the species but where it originated I have no clue. I already said that. SO, I have to change my ways and stop calling it Mesembryanthemum cordifolium f. variegata. I had a discussion (through email) with a knowledgeable man (retired professor and trained at Kew) about the use of cultivar names as opposed to infraspecific names. The discussion was basically due to my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to intraspecific names being reduced to synonyms. 🙂 As far as this plant is concerned, I can somewhat agree it is likely a cultivar.

I have not seen any of these plants with labels in their pots but Mrs. Wagler just said they were Ice Plants. So, let me see. How many species are called Ice Plants in the plant family Aizoaceae?

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Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant) on 9-22-21, #833-3.

I put the Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, ETC.) on the back deck in the spring of 2021 where it received morning sun and light shade the rest of the day. The back deck is in full sun except for 4′ or so that has a roof. The goal is to sneak it inside when an “F” is in the forecast in October and put it on a table just inside the sliding door. That way it will be in about the same light as it is outside and maybe the buds won’t fall off.

Stapelia gigantea on 9-22-21, #833-4.

The Stapelia gigantea is one of the only species I have bought specifically for its flowers. Even so, its stems are pretty neat. The stems are velvety-green, spineless, and have four ribs. The stems have tubercles that are laterally flattened and vertically joined. Each tubercle has a small rudimentary leaf which is short-lived and leaves a scar at the tip of the tubercle. The stems are considered determinate as they only grow to around 8- 12” tall (20-30 cm). Plants can spread 2-3’ wide if given a chance in pots or in the ground. If grown in pots, they will branch out and hang over the sides.

Stapelia gigantea buds on 9-22-21, #833-5.

When I took these photos on 9-22-21 I noticed a few buds. Keep your fingers crossed!

I think that is all for this post. It took a while to get finished because I was doing this and that. I needed to take more photos but it seemed to get too dark before I had time. I like the longer daylengths during the summer and I’m sure you do as well.

Now I will have to find something else to write about. I spend several hours a day working on the pages, but posting can sometimes be a challenge. I applaud all you folks that can write a post every day or every few days. Maybe I should give writing about other topics a shot. Hmmm…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive and well, and always be thankful!

 

 

 

Potted Plants Update #3: The Front Porch Part 3

Hyla versicolor (Gray Tree Frog) on the Ledebouria socialis (var. paucifolia) (Silver Squill) on 8-17-21, #826-29).

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well. This is the final update for the plants on the front porch. Cooler temps came in with September and we had a chance of rain Tuesday evening but we didn’t get a drop. We did get 1 1/2″ Saturday which helped. Today, Wednesday is supposed to get up to 82° F, 81 on Thursday, 88 on Friday, then back up to 91 Saturday and Sunday. GEEZ!

The top photo is of a small Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) that was snoozing in the Ledebouria socialis (var. pauciflora) when I was taking photos. There are A LOT of tree frogs here of all sizes and I have photographed them in some of the strangest places

Previously, I had posted photos of the Gray Treefrog on iNaturalist and a member said, “Hyla versicolor cannot be distinguished from Hyla chrysoscelis using photographic evidence.” Somehow I knew it wouldn’t be that easy… Apparently, Hyla versicolor has twice as many chromosomes as Hyla chrysoscelis and to find that out you would have to do a karyotype. Hyla versicolor is a tetraploid with 48 chromosomes, while Hyla chrysoscelis is a diploid with 24. Another way is to count the cells on their toe pads with a magnifying glass as H. versicolor has slightly larger cells. Well, maybe after looking at hundreds of both species you could figure it out. However, the easiest way is to listen to their calls. The trill of H. chrysoscelis is much faster with shorter intervals between the syllables. Ummm… We are talking about trill rates of 25-65 pulses per second… They used a spectrogram to tell the difference. Apparently, H. chrysoscelis is not supposed to be present in Pettis County but are in Henry County (which is 100 feet away). A tree frog that climbed up the side of the house next to my bedroom window for two summers was a Hyla versicolor (according to its trill rate). One night a few weeks ago, I went across the street to get a recording of the tree frogs because they were louder there. Oddly enough, the recording reveals Hyla chrysoscelis in the mix… Ummm… Henry County is across the street. At any rate, the treefrogs I submitted are listed as “Complex Hyla versicolor (Gray Treefrog Complex)” as members of the genus Hyla (Holarctic Treefrogs). Well, I listed them as Hyla versicolor and other members tweaked it a bit. 🙂

As before, the plant names are clickable and the link will take you to their own page. Their own pages have more photos, plant information, and some rambling about my experience with them. 🙂

HERE WE GO…

Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) on the left at 22″ wide, and L. socialis (var. paucifolia) at 17″ wide on the right on 8-14-21, #826-34.

I don’ know what to say first about the Ledebouria socialis. For one, they are great plants and so easy to grow. Just give them a little water and they do great. Especially “that one” on the left… They prefer filtered light, light shade, or possibly part shade and do great on my front porch. Too much shade and their leaves will be longer (etiolate). They are natives of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa where they grow in evergreen woodlands and scrub forests. There are links at the bottom of these plants page, but I particularly enjoyed the PlantzAfrica.com write-up. The Pacific Bulb Society also has a lot of good information.

Several Scilla species were moved to the Ledebouria genus in 1970 based on their bulbs growing out of the ground, erect inflorescences, and small flowers with reflexed petals (tepals). There were several species that were determined to be the same as Ledebouria (Scilla) socialis even though the coloration of their leaves were somewhat different. Don’t worry, I am not going into a lot of taxonomic details. I already deleted two paragraphs then started over the third time trying not to blab so much. ANYWAY, the pot on the left is what I call Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) even though it isn’t taxonomically correct. The one on the right is Ledebouria socialis (var. paucifolia). They are the same species but different… The Pacific Bulb Society prefers calling them cultivars (Ledebouria socialis ‘Paucifolia’ and L. socialis ‘Violacea’) which is perfectly fine. Due to the definition of cultivar vs. variety, I prefer saying they are varieties rather than cultivars. Since this is my site, I can call them what I want. 🙂 I just put the variety name in parenthesis and I am good to go. ANYWAY, you can go to their page (they are both on the same one) if you want to read more and see more photos.

Both of these pots of plants are the same age (October 2019). I have to use it in a plural sense because both the pots are FULL of bulbs and plants now. ‘Violacea’ has grown so much faster it is ridiculous which is normal for the variety/cultivar.

Fruit on the Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) on 8-17-21, #826-35.

While taking photos on August 17, I noticed what appeared to be fruit… They fell off but it was interesting because I had never seen that before.

Violacea ledebouria (var. violacea), or ‘Violacea’ is the most popular and make great houseplants. You can grow them as an evergreen plant or stop watering them during the winter so they will go dormant. The latter is the best so they will grow better leaves and flower the next summer. Actually, I have never let them go completely dormant because their bulbs shrivel so much it looks like they will die. 🙂 Mine only produce a few flowers, but it is the leaves and the plant in general that I really like. If you haven’t tried Ledebouria, it is high tie you did. There are 64 species and several “cultivars” of L. socialis. Get one or more of something different than mine so we can trade bulbs…

Let’s move on…

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Mammillaria compressa (var. bernalensis) at 2″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-36.

The Mammillaria compressa (var. bernalensis) is another controversial species I am not naming correctly. Maybe someday it will be correct without the parenthesis. 🙂 There are 42 synonyms and the species is highly variable. Actually, Mammillaria compressa f. bernalensis was attempted by the guy who named it Mammillaria bernalensis but was somehow invalidly published… I am calling it Mammillaria compressa (var. bernalensis) because descriptions of M. compressa do not match this plant. Mammillaria bernalensis, which is a synonym, matches perfectly. I am not sure why Mr. Reppenhagen called it a “form” instead of a “variety”. Well, I suppose there is very little difference.

I brought this pot of three plants home from Wal-Mart in December 2020 with a label that simply said “CACTUS”. Who would have thought they were a cactus? I’m not sure how long it took me to figure out the name and it wasn’t as simple as adding photos on Succulent Infatuation or the CactiGuide forum for a member to suggest an ID. It didn’t work… I think it took several weeks off and on to figure it out. Well, again, I will get carried away writing about what I already did on its page. You can just click on the name if you want to know.

ANYWAY, when I brought this pot of three home in December 2020, they all pretty much measured 1 1/4″ tall x 1 1/2″ wide. Now, the largest plant measures 2″ tall x 1 3/4″ wide (without the spines). The pot is on the front porch because information online says they sunburn easily if exposed to direct sunlight for too long. At some point, I need to put all three in their own pots. One of my favorite sites says this species is “not a quick grower” in one paragraph and that it is a “rapid growing species” in the next. This species is a clumper…

If you see a cactus online or in a store labeled Mammillaria tlayecac (in one way or another), it is absolutely incorrect. I thought I would throw that in for good measure. 🙂 It is quite interesting how that name came about…

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Mammillaria senilis on 8-17-21, #826-37.

I have some strange and interesting cactus in my collection but the Mammillaria senilis wins the prize. For one, although it has 9 synonyms, It has managed to keep the same name since 1850. While we are on the subject of names… The full scientific name is Mammillaris senilis Lodd. ex Salm-Dyck… That means it was described by Joseph Franz Maria Anton Herbert Ignatz Fürst und zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck in Cactaceae in Horto Dyckensi Cultae in 1850. Mr. “what’s his name” gave credit to Conrad Loddiges for first naming and describing the species. I wanted you to see the author’s full name. 🙂 

Getting back to this cactus… Being a Mammillaria it does have tubercles that are arranged in a spiral pattern. Areoles on top of the tubercles produce 30-40 very thin radial spines that are, um, 20 mm in length… That’s around 3/4”. My cactus was only 1” tall x 1 1/2” wide when it arrived from a seller on Ebay. It looked very very odd to have such long, thin, hair-like spines. It also has 4-6 white central spines with yellowish tips. The upper and lower central spines have tiny hooks that, in case you are wondering, stick in your fingers. The axils between the tubercles also have wool and bristles, but who can tell? There are other species of Mammillaria with hooked spines.

Several times I have noticed it sticking out of the potting soil, roots and all, just sitting on top. With other cactus, even though I may have to use gloves, all I would have to do is pick it up, dig a hole and stick it back in the potting soil. This one isn’t so easy because its hooked spines stick to everything. When I try to let go of it, it won’t let go. Forget about trying to get in the center of the pot. I didn’t measure it on August 17, but I really do need to do that and stick it back in the soil AGAIN… I am sure it is still alive because it does look a little bigger and it hasn’t shriveled up. 🙂

Mammillaria senilis grows “on” moss-covered boulders in pine forests at 7800-9000 feet (2400-2800 meters) above sea level in Chihuahua, Jalisco, and Sinaloa, and southern Zacatecas in Mexico. It does not appear to have a common name, but the species name, senilis, means “of an old man”…

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Mammillaria spinosissima ‘Un Pico’ at 3″ tall x 1 7/8″ wide on 8-18-21, #827-22.

I brought this Mammillaria spinosissima ‘Un Pico’ home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on April 3 when it was just 1 1/2″ tall. It has grown to 3″ already in just 4 months! Mammillaria spinosissima is a HIGHLY variable species with 107 synonyms. ‘Un Pico’ is a stable genetic mutation that only produces one central spine per areola but some spineless areoles are also present… Well, that’s what information online suggests. Photos online show plants with VERY long spines, but that isn’t the case with mine. While there are areoles with no spines, most have two recurved central spines. Hmmm… It may be back to the drawing board with this one although the photo on the label does look similar… With longer spines… Time will tell.

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Opuntia monacantha var. variegata (Joseph’s Coat) at 8 1/2″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-38.

The Opuntia monacantha var. variegata (Joseph’s Coat) has done remarkably well and is now 8 1/4″ tall. It has grown 3 1/2″ since I brought it home in March 2020. The top pad fell off earlier this summer but it grew another one to replace it. I’m normally not an Opuntia fan unless they are growing outside in the ground and I don’t have to do anything with them but avoid their spines. I remember one my brother had when I was a kid that had tiny glochids that I used to get in my fingers. You know how kids are? We have to touch everything and learn. Well, I guess I am still like that to a “point’… Get it? Point (cactus)? Hmmm… Well, I was trying to make a joke…

I really like this cactus because it is neatly variegated and kind of colorful. It is hard to get good photos of this one, especially close-ups. OH, it is a monstrous form which also makes it a neat plant to have in a collection. I really like cacti that have mutated and grow weird. 

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The green Oxalis triangularis on 8-18-21, #827-27.

The green Oxalis triangularis (False Shamrock/Wood Sorrel) I brought home in March has done very well over the summer. That is if I don’t let its soil dry out too much. When the Oxalis start drooping I know it is time to water the plants on the front porch. The Oxalis triangularis (subsp. papilionacea) is doing great except for one thing… Nathan started using the mosquito repellant and I told him to spray it in the house. I told him it would make the leaves on the plants turn brown and may even kill them. Well…The next thing I knew the Oxalis triangularis purple leaves started turning brown. Now how do I take a photo like that? The Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) has done fair because it had an, um, watering issue. I also think it needs more sun. I put a pot of one of those in one of a friend’s planters and it has done GREAT! He waters his planters daily…

I really like the Oxalis in my collection but some people have issues with them becoming invasive. When I re-potted the Oxalis and put the Amorphophallus in their own pots, I dumped the old potting soil in the corner next to the back porch. I had combed through the old potting soil and thought I had found all the rhizomes. Within a week or so there were Oxalis triangularis in the flower bed. Not only that, somehow a stray Amorphophallus came up in the big pot of Oxalis. Hmmm… Sneaky… 🙂

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Polaskia chichipe (Chichipe). The largest plant in the pot measured 3″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-39.

The pot of three Polaskia chichipe (Chichipe, ETC.) have done very well over the summer on the front porch (even though they may have been fine on the back porch). The tallest plant now measures 3″, so it has grown 1/2″ since last October when I brought them home from Lowe’s. Information on Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says they are a slow-growing columnar species with many curved branches. It says they have short trunks and branch out freely at the top… They have a greenish, powdery-gray appearance, almost appearing variegated with a pattern similar to the Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost) on the back porch. The Polaskia chichipe is supposed to have only a short winter rest period which could be tricky… I’ll figure it out and I am sure we will get along fine.

There are only two species in this genus from Central Mexico.

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Rebutia fabrisii still at 1 1/2″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-40.

I really like this little cluster of plants with its soft spines! The Rebutia fabrisii is another species without a common name. This one has A LOT of rules but I think it will be fine. I brought this plant home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on March 29 (with a label) when the cluster was just 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. Ummm… It is still 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. Information on LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says this species lives at a high altitude in Argentina where it does best in cool, dry conditions. It can go dormant in hot summers but resume growth when cool temps return in August. Hmmm… We had a fairly hot August but September has been nice. I noticed a few days ago it looks like this cluster is having a growth spurt. Its soft spines come from very small tubercles that look like little bumps.

This species supposedly has deep tap roots which protect it from fires that are set in its native habitat to promote grass growth. This is usually done before the rainy season when the plants are dormant and buried in the ground. Even so, the species has a very limited range of approximately 60 square miles (100 km2)… Hmmm… 60 square miles equals 38,400 acres.

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Sedum adolphi on 8-17-21, #826-42.

The Sedum adolphi (Golden Sedum) has grown more over the summer. I think “someone” has been knocking off its leaves as they walk by… I was planning on re-growing it this summer but I got busy with the garden and avoiding the heat and time just flew by. Now it is September and next month the plants will be moved inside. It will be fine over the winter as usual so I will wait until next spring.

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Sedum adolphi ‘Firestorm’ on 8-17-21, #826-41.

And, of course, the Sedum adolphi ‘Firestorm’ has been doing its thing over the summer as well. GROWING! It is a sprawler like the other Sedum adolphi and I also intended to re-grow it over the summer… They will both be clipped next spring. This one flowers over the winter where the other one never has.

Both of the Sedum adolphi are great plants and even a beginner can grow them. This is the only Sedum I have been able to grow inside and have not tried them in the ground. I do believe their leaves would be too tempting for grasshoppers and crickets… When I re-grow them in the spring I am going to keep a pot of each in full sun on the back porch. Hmmm… I said that last year.

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Sempervivum arachnoideum (left) and ‘Oddity’ on 8-17-21, #826-43.

OK, so I have grown several Sempervivum over the past 8 years… Not a lot, just 5 or 6 different species/cultivars. I have brought home a Sempervivum arachnoideum probably four times (2 cultivars and at least 2 unlabeled). I need to work on that page to include them all. I have had a Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ more times than that. Actually, I had one of those, and its kids, for several years before it went kaput. I had an amazing pot of S. tectorum for over a year and then I had to let it go… The Sempervivum ‘Killer’ did AWESOME outside in a planter for three years until it flowered. Since then its offspring have barely hung on. SO, this spring, I brought home the two in the above photo. They are still in the pots I brought them home in and they have done great. They usually have issues when I transplant them, so if they do better cramped up then so be it. 🙂 One time I had a beautiful Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ until I put it in a larger pot. It had A LOT of offsets that grew even longer stems in the new pot. The mother was so frantic her kids were leaving that she died… Then the kids died as well! OH, YES! There was also the Sempervivum heuffelii Hybrid… It was NICE but a bit strange. It had been a Jovibarba heuffelii until botanists decided it was a Sempervivum AGAIN. It was decided it WASN’T a Sempervivum because it reproduced by dividing. There were only three species of Jovibarba but they “had” different characteristics than Sempervivum. The other two Jovibarba species produced offsets known as “rollers”. 🙂 I bought that plant in 2014 and it was supposed to be hardy down to USDA Zone 3 so I put it in a planter… It didn’t return in 2015 and I haven’t seen it available since…

There are 52 species of Sempervivum and I don’t know how many are cold hardy here. Probably Sempervivum tectorum and its cultivars/hybrids are the most reliably cold hardy. Heck, my brother had them growing outside in St. Paul, Minnesota. I will figure them out. They DO NOT do well inside the house over the winter, although they have survived well in the basement. There is no “good thing” that should be given up on. Of course, I could just grow them as annuals and not worry about it…

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Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus (Paper Spine Cactus) on 8-17-21, #826-44.

Last but not least by any means is the Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus (Paper Spine Cactus). I have had it as a companion since February 2016 and it is one of the most interesting cactus in my small collection. It has never had any issues of any kind. Sometimes one of the segments will fall off but I just stick it in the pot and it grows. One fell off a while back and I put it in the pot with the Kalanchoe marmorata temporarily. This cactus does need a larger diameter pot but not a deeper pot. Pots like that are hard to find unless I go buy one. I have such a large collection of pots but none fit its needs… A few of the “stems” have managed to get taller without the segments falling off. The only problem with transplanting this cactus is that it has those darn tiny glochids…

Believe it or not, I am finished with this post and the plants on the front porch. Of course, there are other plants on the front porch… Like at least 10 or so but who’s counting? I guess I need to take photos of the Geraniums, Tradescantia, Callisia fragrans (Grapdpa’s Pipe), Begonias, Bilbergera nutans (Queen’s Tears)… I think that’s all. Some are doing OK but some not so much. Working in the garden and trying to avoid the heat takes a lot of time and some plants need more attention (and water) over the summer. Cactus and succulents just keep doing their thing despite a little neglect. Even tropical plants can go without water to a point as long as it is humid… The Alocasia on the back porch in full sun are a great example.

The next post will probably be about the plants on the back porch.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments!

 

Potted Plants Update #2: The Front Porch Part 2

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Last week was definitely a hot one starting out at 97° F for a couple of days then just 91-93 for the remainder of the week. A few degrees doesn’t make much difference but it is very hard to want to go outside until after 6 PM. The heat and humidity seem so draining and not very motivational. A few times I walked to the shed and then went back to the house. The crabgrass has taken over the yard but who wants to mow? I didn’t get refrigerant added to the AC again because I get along OK with the ceiling fans. Sometimes it is cooler outside than it is in the house, though.

I have been working on this post since I finished the last one and there is still one more about the plants on the front porch. I was going to put the rest on this post but that might take another week to finish. I haven’t been working on the post as much this week because I seem to have gotten stuck re-watching Warehouse 13 as I am eating dinner. One episode led to another even though I watched them before. Now, it seems what I am watching I didn’t see before. Hmmm…

Anyway, as before, most of the photos on this post were taken on August 17. The Huernia schneideriana photos were taken on the 18th because I ran out of time on the 17th. The last photo was taken on the 28th after I whacked the taller Kalanchoe marmorata in half. As before, the plant’s names are clickable and will take you to their own page.

x Gasteraloe ‘Flow’ at 5″ tall x 9 3/4″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-23.

The x Gasteria ‘Flow’ has done very well over the summer even though we had a slight round of mealybugs late last winter. The mealybugs didn’t really affect this plant, they were just on it. It was sprayed a few times, given a bath, then monitored. It, along with a few other plants, was on an isolation table the last half of the winter. The weird thing was that this plant turned orange but its color came back after I moved the plants back outside for the summer. THANK GOODNESS!

The x Gasteraloe ‘Flow’ is a great plant and one of my favorites. I really like its dark color and very rough leaves. I have had no problems with it for the most part and it would make a great plant for a beginner. I brought it home on October 17 in 2017 and it now measures 5″ tall x 9 3/4″ wide.

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Gasteria ‘Little Warty’ at 6″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-24.

AHHH, YES! The Gasteria ‘Little Warty’ continues to do well and has really fascinated me. I brought this plant home from Wildwood Greenhouse on May 8 in 2019 when it was only2″ tall x 2 13/16 wide. It has grown to 6″ tall x 53/4″ wide. Gasteria ‘Little Warty’ is a cross between Gasteria batesiana x Gasteria ‘Old Man Silver’ from Australian hybridizer David Cumming. Its leaves feel like VERY worn-out coarse sandpaper and are a combination of dark and light green. It is AWESOME! If you like Gasteria, you would love this plant.

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Gasteria sp./hybrid ? at 5 1/2″ tall on 5-17-21.

The Gasteria sp./hybrid ? is continuing to do very well. The largest plant was 6″ tall when I measured it on August 17. It is still 6 3/4″ wide and there were 9 offsets in the pot. This is a GREAT plant that wasn’t bothered by mealybugs at all over the winter. Its leaves are far too hard.

I brought this plant home from Wal-Mart, unlabeled, in March 2018, when it was just 2 3/4″ tall. It still hasn’t flowered so I am no closer to finding out whether it is a species or hybrid. It is likely a hybrid involving Gasteria obliqua (syn. G. bicolor) or its cultivars. Possibly with a little G. pillansii thrown in… An expert (one of the world’s foremost hybridizers) told me, “I don’t see it as a species but it does look a little bicolorish. (I assume by saying “bicolorish” he meant Gasteria bicolor, which is a synonym of G. obliqua). We found pillansii in the wild with this milky leaf color. I would suggest it is a hybrid but certainly, without a flower, it is difficult to determine provenance or even narrow it down. Many growers sell both species and hybrids. It very could well be from our nursery as we supply plants for Wal-Mart and HD and Lowe’s.”

I suppose it really doesn’t matter what it is, parentage-wise, but it would be nice to know. It seems such a great plant deserves a better name than ‘?’. All I really know is that it is a neat plant with very hard, smooth leaves whose edges feel like a closed zipper.

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x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ on 8-17-21.

Well, what can I say? The x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ is certainly doing well. A good friend and fellow plant collector from Mississippi, Walley Morse, send me several cuttings in 2019, including this x Graptosedum cultivar. Well, he didn’t say what it was but I put photos on a Facebook group and x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ was the suggestion. I checked out photos online and decided that’s what I would assume it was. There are several x Graptosedum cultivars… It needs to be in more sun than it is getting on the front porch for its color to stand out. Maybe in more sun it wouldn’t get so “leggy” either. I am always somewhat reluctant to do that for some reason. My intention “was” to take cuttings and put a pot with a few in it on the back porch. Well, I can still do that…

I don’t have a page for this plant…

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Haworthiopsis attenuata ‘Super White’ at 3 3/4″ tall x 5 1/2″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-27.

The Haworthiopsis attenuata ‘Super White’ (Zebra Plant) is still alive and well. It is one of three plants from Succulent Market that were hiding in my bedroom over the winter. The other two plants from them bit the dust as a result of the little critters. This Haworthiopsis is one of 19 species of Haworthia that were transferred to the newly formed Haworthiopsis genus in 2013. The species is often confused with Haworthiopsis fasciata, but that species lacks tubercles on the upper surface of its leaves. Cultivars of H. attenuata are more readily available. Several online sources have this species listed as H. fasciata instead of H. attenuata because their sources have them incorrectly labeled… Oh, well. What can I say. I am just a little blogger and I kind of like it that way. 🙂

I had not grown any Haworthia species since 2009 (which I easily killed being a newbie at the time). When Nico Britsch of Succulent Market offered me a few plants if I mentioned his online store, I selected ‘Super White’ to give it a shot. This cultivar was developed by his grandfather to be more “white” and is said to tolerate lower light levels. Since last August when it arrived with five other plants, it has done very well and hasn’t had a single issue. It has grown to 3 3/4″ tall, which is an increase of 1/4″, and is still 5 1/2″ wide. The white tubercles are definitely a great feature of the species. They look like thick paint globbed on the green leaves. It has been difficult for me to get really good close-ups…

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Haworthiopsis limifolia (Fairy Washboard) at 4 1/2″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-28.

I’m not sure how many times I have used the word AWESOME, but this Haworthiopsis limifolia (Fairy Washboard) is AWESOME! It is also known as the File-Leaved Haworthia and Fairies Washboard. It measured 2 3/8″ tall x 3″ wide when I brought it home from Wildwood Greenhouse in 2019 and the clump has now grown to 4 1/4″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide. You can’t measure just a single plant when a species is a clumper. 🙂

I really like this plant’s hard-as-a-rock glossy dark green leaves and raised tubercles. The tubercles are also green and the shininess of the plant makes them appear somewhat a lighter shade.

I think it is best to keep the offsets with the parent plant when repotting smaller “Aloe-types”. They just do much better in my opinion. I have had small offsets of some of them fall off so I put them in their own pots and they grow VERY, VERY slowly and don’t do well. It is best to be careful and leave the offsets in the pot (at least until they get fairly large) They are “clumpers” so I guess they like a close-knit family.

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Huernia schneideriana (Red Dragon Flower) on 8-18-21, #827-18.

The Huernia schneideriana (Red Dragon) continues to do well and has been blooming all summer. It is carefree and happy and just keeps growing and blooming…

Huernia schneideriana (Red Dragon ) flowers on 8-18-21, #327-19.

I re-potted it in 2018 and it still seems OK. It might need a bigger pot next year and new potting soil is always appreciated. It isn’t easy to re-pot…

This Tanzanian native has some of the smallest and least colorful flowers of the species in the genus. I am absolutely not complaining because that’s how I made the proper ID once it flowered. I think they are great plants and if I had the funds I would buy more species… I would also buy species of the other genera of Carrion Plants which is what Huernia are. Although their flowers have an odor only appreciated by certain pollinating bugs, I have never noticed any smell at all. I have even taken a good whiff and smelled nothing… The Stapelia gigantea, on the other hand, might be a different story…

One might be tempted to mistake this plant for a hernia, but it is pronounced hew-ERN-ee-uh… Well, I am sure most people wouldn’t pronounce it wrong, but I have a tendency to call it her-NEE-uh…

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Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ (Stalactite Plant) at 6″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-30.

The Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ (Stalactite Plant) has grown 3/4″ since I took its last photo on July 21. Now it measures 6″ tall. ‘Fang” grows differently than the “other” Kalanchoe beharensis and isn’t so stiff. It is very interesting with its tubercles on the undersides of its leaves.

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Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Elephant Ear) at 5 1/2″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-31.

The Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Elephant Ear, Maltese Cross) is such a neat plant. It was 4″ tall on July 21 now it is 5 1/2″… It grew 1 1/2″! I really like this native of Madagascar… My thanks to Sandy Fitzgerald for sending it!

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Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands) at 18″ and 15″ tall on 8-17-21.

I have said it before but I will say it again… A well-grown Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands) is an AWESOME plant. I brought my first plant home from Wagler’s in 2014 and it did great. Then, after giving most of my plants up in 2014, I brought home the second one in 2015. It did great until it started growing weird. By 2017, it was a disaster… The main stem died but a few of the plantlets took off like mad. One of them grew much better than the others and grew into an impressive plant. Once it grew taller, I cut the stem (maybe half) and re-rooted it. It was like, “Ahhhh… That’s the way you do it.” 🙂 I had done that before with other plants but not the Kalanchoe. After I cut the stem and stuck it in the pot, it continued growing like nothing had happened. Then the plant bloomed and produced these two offsets. Being monocarpic, the main plant died.

You can start plants from the plantlets, but the offsets grow much better and faster. “Normally” they don’t produce offsets until after they flower which may take YEARS. It can take A LONG TIME to get them to look good from the plantlets and you may just want to throw them out the door. Once a good plant grows “so” tall, cutting the stems in half (more or less) is something you might have to do. Once they get taller and the lower leaves have fallen off, the plants look weird, they may start growing weirder, and the pot becomes top-heavy. The only thing holding it up now is the bricks around the pot. The plantlets can definitely be a pain in the neck and will fall off and attempt to grow in any nearby pot. I normally remove the plantlets on occasion to eliminate that problem. They just grow more…

One day “soon” I will put all four plants in their own pots and at least the taller one should be cut in half. Likely, there will be a post about it.

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Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) on 8-17-21, #826-32.

The Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) continues to do quite well on the front porch. When I wrote a previous post in July, there were 5 pots with a total of 16 plants (including offsets). To say they have grown over the summer would be an understatement. I have no idea what they will look like when I pick their pots up to bring them inside for the winter. They really like to sprawl to give the offsets an opportunity to grow. 🙂

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Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant), the smaller one, on 8-17-21, #836-33.

You know, sometimes we try plants that just have issues. Photos of Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) look great so when I saw a member on a Facebook group selling them in 2018 I had to have one. After all, it is a Kalanchoe and they do pretty well. It looked great when it arrived in April but went downhill fairly quickly. Come to think of it, I also bought a Sedum spathulifolium subsp. pruinosum ‘Cape Blanco’ from the same member and it did the same thing and eventually bit the dust. It was in April so they may have gotten too cold during shipping. GEEZ! ANYWAY, this Kalanchoe didn’t die, and hasn’t yet, but it has been a difficult species for me and used to drive me batty. It gew and offset then I had two of them to deal with. They grow a few leaves and the lower ones fall off and then they look weird. I cut their stems in half as needed and regrow them. They look like they might be doing better for a while then they look weird again. I am not a man who likes drama, so I told it as long as it lived I would keep trying to figure it out. It has been three years and I still haven’t figured it out…

Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant), the taller plant, on 8-28-21, #830-1.

Normally the taller plant, which is the original plant (I think) looks the best while the offset struggles. This summer, it was the reverse. The smaller one looks better while the taller one looked plain weird. It grew to 10″ tall and just had a few smaller leaves on the top… 7″ of stem between the soil and lower leaves! SO, on the 28th I cut the stem in half. Once the stem scabs over I will stick it in a pot up to its lower leaves. The smaller one is now 5 1/2″ tall…

OH… The Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons) grew so tall I finally took cuttings. I didn’t throw away the stem which is still alive and has sprouted a new branch. Out of four cuttings, two survived and have taken root. At least they seem firm in their pots. One of those cuttings had no difficulty, but the stem of the other one rotted at first. I had to cut it off again and it finally rooted. They have been on the back porch in FULL sun over the summer which was also an experiment… They will be on a future post since they are on the back porch.

I will close this post and move on to part 3 of the plants on the front porch.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and get dirty if you can.

 

Potted Plants Update #1: The Front Porch Part 1

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I started this post on Tuesday the 17th  and it has taken until the 22nd to get it finished. Actually, I just stopped because I really wasn’t finished. Taking photos led to taking measurements which I normally don’t do until October when I move the plants inside for the winter. There are times when a measurement or two (or more) are necessary in-between if a plant has had a growth spurt and needs to be complimented… Apparently, there have been several of “those” on the front porch. 

On Wednesday I decided to take a few photos of the plant groups on the back porch as a prelude to the next post (or one of the next posts), which led to more photos…

OH, we finally did get a good shower Friday night. We were teased several times over the week but all the drops missed the rain gauge. A friend that lives close to Green Ridge got over 2″ in an hour on Tuesday. Well, at midnight on Friday the wind started blowing and it poured! I went to the back porch and took videos for a possible YouTube post. If she wants to use them, they will be uploaded on the channel called JoyInUs!!!!!. Jocelyn is still working in Kuwait and she has just started her YouTube channel. She is getting off to a good start because she read ALL the directions. 🙂 She has to have a certain amount of followers and views before she can start earning. Anyway, after the initial storm, it continued to sprinkle all night. When I check the rain gauge there was 1 1/2″.

Here we go… Most of the photos were taken on Tuesday (the 17th) until it became too dark… The retakes that were taken on the 18 are thrown in, so the photos are kind of in alphabetical order but not necessarily from the same day… So, the photo numbers aren’t exactly in order. 🙂 If you click on the highlighted plant’s name you will be redirected to the plant’s own page. There are a few plants that don’t have a page yet…

Adromischus cristatus (Key Lime Pie) on 8-17-21, #826-1.

Hmmm… Well, it is weird how the Adromischus cristatus (Key Lime Pie) seems to always be first when in alphabetical order. I guess it is strange to me because one of the plants that hasn’t done so great for me winds up at the top of the list. We have had our ups and downs for the past four years but it refuses to die… It certainly has the will to live. 🙂 It seems to have done better than usual over the summer which may be a good sign.

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Agave (Syn. x Mangave) ‘Pineapple Express’ at 11 1/2″ tall x 20″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-2.

The Agave ‘Pineapple Express’ has done well and has grown to 11 1/2″ tall x 20″ wide. This is a great plant in every way… I am not sure how many offsets are in the pot now. At some point, maybe when I re-pot next time, I will have to put them in their own pots…

Agave (Syn. x Mangave) ‘Pineapple Express’ from the top on 8-17-21, #826-3.

I really like the dark green leaves with maroon spots! It is patented as x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ by Walter’s Gardens but x Mangave is now a synonym of Agave… That is because its ancestry includes Agave and ManfredaManfreda became a synonym of Agave… Hmmm… Maybe I should have checked to make sure it hasn’t switched back again.

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Agave univittata (var. lophantha) (Center Stripe Agave) at 17 1/2″ tall x 25″ or so wide on 8-17-21, #826-4.

The Agave univittata (var. lophantha) (Center Stripe Agave) has grown to 17 1/2″ tall x 25″ or so. When I added the measurement to my journal I noticed it was 27 1/2″ wide in 2020. I went back to recheck and noticed I had neglected to consider the oldest leaf on the bottom hanging downward. I kept it on the front porch in 2020 and this summer because it didn’t seem to like the intense sun on the back porch in 2019 summer. Well, it liked it but it seemed to have some sunburn issues. I think she wants the three lower leaves removed because of the brown on them. I am not sure because she doesn’t speak English. All I know is she isn’t happy about something and if I get too close she pokes me.

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Alocasia gageana (Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear) on 8-17-21, #826-5.

Even though not near as large as the other Alocasia, the Alocasia gageana (Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear) is a great species. They don’t require as much space as the larger species and this one multiplies QUICKLY! If you remove the offsets, the next thing you know they are all hurrying to fill their own pots. I keep these two pots on the front porch because they like it there. 🙂

Alocasia gageana (Dwarf Upright Elephant Ear) leaves on 8-17-21, #826-6.

The leaves are quite a bit smaller than the other Alocasia in my collection, but they are very nice. I have had this species since 2012 after I removed these weird plants coming up in a HUGE pot of the Philodendron bipinnatifidum I was keeping for friends of mine in Mississippi. Alocasia gageana has been used in the creation of many hybrid Alocasia

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Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ at 3 3/4″ tall x 7″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-7.

The Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ has done very well over the summer and has grown to 3 3/4″ tall x 7″ wide. It has grown 3/4″ taller and 1/4″ wider since October 6 last year. This is one of the plants sent to me by Nico Britsch of Succulent Market. I believe it is a John Bleck hybrid.

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Aloe x ‘Doran Black’ with a 13″ flower stem on 8-17-21, #826-8.

The Aloe x ‘Doran Black’, also from Succulent Market, has done very well over the summer and one of the plants has another 13″ flower stem. It has bloomed several times.

Aloe ‘Doran Black’ at 3″ tall x 6″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-9.

The two larger plants are 3″ tall and the two together are 6″ wide now. One of the larger plants in the pot died, but the smaller one is still going strong. So, there are still three plants in the pot. They have grown 1/2″ taller and wider since October 6, 2019.

Aloe x ‘Doran Black’ was hybridized by Dick Wright and named for the late nurseryman Doran Black.

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Aloe x ‘Lizard Lips at 5″ tall x 12″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-10.

WHEW! I thought the Aloe x ‘Lizard Lips’ was a goner! Several Aloe came down with a case of mealybugs over the winter and the next thing I knew they were on ‘Lizard Lips’. (I know where they came from…) I sprayed it and put it on the front porch when temperatures permitted and kept it isolated in the living room. After a while, there was not a single green leaf and I thought it was dead. Fortunately, it came back to life and is actually looking better than it has for a few years. It’s a miracle! We have had our ups and downs and I don’t think this is a good hybrid for a beginner. There are 43 photos on its page…

Aloe x ‘Lizard Lps’ was the first Aloe I bought in 2009 when living in Mississippi and I brought it with me when I moved back here in 2013. I took an offset to Mrs. Wagler (Wagler’s Greenhouse) in maybe 2014 which was a good thing. I gave up most of my plants later in 2014 and then started collecting again in 2015. I made a dash to Wagler’s and brought this plant back home. 🙂 So, we have history and it would have been tragic if it had have died.

ANYWAY, I may talk more about bug issues later on… I don’t have bug issues and really never have until last winter. I am 99% positive where they came from and I learned a valuable lesson from the battle.

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Aloe juvenna (Tiger Tooth Aloe) on 8-18-21, #827-5.

Well, the Aloe juvenna (Tiger Tooth Aloe) is definitely looking much better than last October when I took its photo. Its leaves were brownish looking last summer and most of the winter while inside. It really perked up over the summer and has done quite well. Its longest stem is around 16″ long and the tallest plant in the pot is 5 1/2″ tall. I need to remove the dead leaves on its longer stems… What do you think? Maybe the dead leaves on the longer stems are kind of like getting gray hair for humans.

Aloe juvenna was one of the first Aloe I brought home from Wal-Mart in 2009 when I was living in Mississippi. I was at Wal-Mart in Greenville and saw a broken stem laying on the shelf. Well, I stuck it in my pocket and looked around for another one to see what the name was. I found a pot labeled Aloe squarrosa then later found out it was an Aloe juvenna. It is an interesting story you can read if you click on its page. I have had this particular Aloe juvenna since 2017 and it has grown A LOT!

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I really like Aloe and Aloe hybrids. According to Plants of the World Online, there are now 585 species in the Aloe genus.

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Aloe maculata on 8-17-21, #826-11.

GEEZ! I STILL haven’t removed the Aloe maculata offsets from this pot and put them in their own pots. Last spring (2019) before I put the plants outside, I took the HUGE plant in this pot loaded with offsets on the back porch to give it a good soaking. The temperature was fine and we were having sunny days. One night I left it outside because the temperature didn’t seem too cold. The next afternoon I could tell I had screwed up and the mother plant died. It looked like it had been boiled… It was 19″ tall x 42″ wide. I have another plant in a smaller pot with a few offsets (already) that also needs to be put in a bigger pot. Aloe maculata needs a big pot because they can get quite large. My first Aloe was their ancestor given to me by Kyle Hall’s grandmother, Brenda Jeter, in 2009 in Leland, Mississippi. I had hundreds by the time I left in 2013… SERIOUSLY. Go to this plants page and you will see.

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x Alworthia ‘Black Gem’ at 5 1/2″ tall x 11 1/2″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-12.

The x Alworthia ‘Black Gem’ has been a great plant since I brought it home in 2019 from Wildwood Greenhouse. The owner moved his family to another Amish community and started a greenhouse there. I sure miss that guy because he had some great succulents! Anyway, this plant measured 5 1/2″ tall x 11 1/2″ wide on the 17th despite our issue with mealybugs… A lot of its lower leaves had already died (which was normal) but I had to remove them to make sure no bugs were hiding in them. The mealybugs didn’t seem to bother this plant, but they would get down next to the stem and were somewhat difficult to remove. I finally got the bugs under control after cleaning, spraying, and repotting. After that, a weekly spraying and inspection seemed to do the trick.

I really like this plant because of its nice dark green leaves…

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Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Eve’s Needle) at 6″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-13.

The Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Eve’s Needle) is an odd but neat plant. I just realized I don’t have a page for it yet, probably since it was a very small, single-stemmed plant when I brought it home from Wagler’s in November 2019. The plant in the middle is the original plant and its offset on the right is now just a hair taller. Hmmm… I don’t even remember it being in the pot when I moved the plants outside in the spring now it has another one coming on. Anyway, this plant (s) now measures 6″ tall which is about double what it was when I brought it home. I need to re-pot this one to get it back in the center. It seems to have moved over. Maybe she is trying to push her kid out of the nest. 🙂

I used to have a monstrose form of this plant that was AWESOME and it grew very large. I overwatered it during the winter of 2013 and it rotted… I have not found one since.

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Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ at 9 3/4″ tall x 9 1/2″ wide on 8-17-21.

The Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is doing very well and has grown to 9 3/4″ tall x 9 1/2″ wide. We have had some brown scale issues, especially last winter, but it seems to be doing great now. It is 1 1/4″ taller than last October and the same width.

Crassula ovata are great plants but you have to watch for brown scale. You can pick them off with your fingernail and an occasional spraying with GardenSafe Fungicide 3 (fungicide, insecticide, and miticide) may be a good idea. It is OMRI listed and I rarely have issues using it on most succulents. There are exceptions with some cactus, however… Some people recommend using alcohol, but that isn’t safe for all plants either. I killed a Crassula arborescens ssp. undulatifolia ‘Jitters” using a product that smelled of alcohol… It is best if you check your plants regularly and keep on top of brown scale. The plant I killed was infested when I brought it home although the brown scale was completely unnoticeable. When I started noticing the problem, I went to the nursery (when I lived in Mississippi) I brought it home from and her plants were MUCH worse than mine. Her daughter had been watering the plants and she had no clue. She ultimately had to discard all of them.

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Crassula perfoliata var. falcata (Propeller Plant) at 5″ tall x 5 7/8″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-15.

The Crassula perfoliata var. falcata (Propeller Plant) has done very well so far and has grown to 5″ tall. The end of the longer lower leaf on the bottom turned brown so I snipped the brown part off. That’s why it is 1/8″ narrower than when I brought it home on March 29. But, it grew an inch taller in about five months.

This is a neat plant but it can be a bit of a leaner. I used this glass ball to prop it up but now it is trying to lean in the opposite direction… 🙂

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Dracaena hanningtonii (Syn. Sansevieria ehrenbergii) ‘Samurai’/’Samurai Dwarf’ at 3 3/4″ tall x 6 1/8″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-16.

The Dracaena hanningtonii ‘Samurai’ has done GREAT and is now 3 3/4″ tall 6 1/8″ wide. It didn’t grow a lick the first 10 months after I brought it home in January 2020 until I measured again in October. It is great to see it has grown 3/4″ taller and 1/8″ wider. Its leaves are so stiff and hard I was beginning to wonder if it was artificial. Since it grew I am convinced it is real now. 🙂

It is still hard not to call it a Sansevieria since species in that genus were moved to Dracaena. It must be final…

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Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ ? at at 2″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide on 8-18-21, #827-8.

The so labeled Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’ has grown to 2″ tall x 4 1/4″ wide even though we got off to a rough start. I brought it home from Wagler’s on March 29 after debating with myself about it. Mrs. Wagler’s son, who actually owns the greenhouse, had bought a lot of succulents (and a few cactus) from the local auction. We have a big auction north of town where people sell produce and plants. I have never been to the auction myself, but I guess it is a pretty big deal. Anyway, I think I went to Wagler’s on March 20 primarily to check on the progress of the Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter Cactus) and noticed the new succulents. I brought home a few, of course, including the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri. It wasn’t until a few more visits I decided to bring home this Echeveria labeled ‘Ebony’. I had issues growing Echeveria here in the past because they need brighter light over the winter than what I could provide. I decided since I had the plant shelf in the back bedroom in a south-facing window I would give it another shot.

Well, once temperatures warmed up enough I moved the plants to the front and back porch. I keep an eye on the forecast in case nighttime temperatures were going to get too cold and I needed to bring the plants back inside. At any rate, after a few days, I noticed this plant’s leaves had burned, or perhaps it was because it was too cold. It looked as if the leaves had been wet and the sun scalded them. Well, that was virtually impossible because the temps were still fairly cool and plants on the front porch only get a little direct sun in the afternoon. Besides, in May, the sun is still not directly over the plants like it is later in the summer. At any rate, this plant was NOT very photogenic for a while. It started growing new leaves so I knew it would be OK and eventually the burned leaves would be at the bottom of the plant.

This is a photo of the label that is in the pot with the plant. It is a generic label that shows how the leaves are supposed to look if “well-grown”… I figured if I had it in enough light the leaves would darken if this plant was indeed an Echeveria ‘Ebony’. There were two reasons I had my doubts in the first place. One was that this plant was in a greenhouse getting plenty of light and its leaves should have already been darker. The second reason was that online sources of ‘Ebony’, and on Ebay, had them priced from $25-$150… I paid $1.50. I just checked and well-grown ‘Ebony’ are still similarly priced, including one listing for $150 (it looks AWESOME!). Plants without good color on Ebay from Succulent Depot are from $9-18 depending on the size of the pot. Maybe there are “fake” Echeveria ‘Ebony’…

Wonder what would happen if I put it on the back porch? Hmmm… I think not…

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Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria) at 5 1/2″ tall on 8-17-21.

The Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria) is still doing GREAT and has grown to 5 1/2″ tall. There are 197 species of Echeveria and MANY, MANY cultivars and hybrids. It is a very diverse genus and species can grow in rosettes or not. Leaves can be smooth, thin, thick, fat, or fuzzy depending on the species.

Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria) from the top on 8-17-21. #826-18.

I had one of these in 2017, I think, but I screwed up and put it in the ground (pot and all) in the bed behind the old foundation. I became very busy over the summer and the Marigold ‘Brocade’, also in the bed, completely took over. By the time I remembered it, the plant was a disaster and the crickets had pretty much eaten it up. I had a plan but it didn’t work out and nature took its course.

I really like this plant’s color and hope all goes well with it this winter when it is inside. We shall see… It will definitely be on the shelf in front of the south-facing window in the back bedroom.

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Euphorbia mammillaris (Indian Corn Cob) at 11 3/4″ tall on 8-17-21, #826-19.

The Euphorbia mammillaris (Indian Corn Cob) has grown from 8″ tall to 11 3/4″ tall since last October 17. It is 6″ taller since October 2019. I will admit it looks weird the way the stem is wide, then thin, then wide again. The cutting I brought home in 2019 was basically a branch with four side branches which is why it looks lop-sided. I am wondering if I should make five cuttings out of the whole deal and see what happens. It needs to be a stem that branches out and maybe if I snip the stems above where the brown is they will look better. Hmmm… What do you think?

Euphorbia mammillaris (Indian Corn Cob) on 8-17-21, #826-20.

Even though it is somewhat weird, it is still a neat plant. I really like the combination of thorns and leaves. The leaves fall off over the winter when the plant is “somewhat” dormant. At some point, this plant will produce flowers AGAIN. It had the remains of wilted flowers when I brought the cutting home and I have been patiently waiting…

Euphorbia species that live in desert climates have adapted to conserve and store moisture like cactus. The genus and family are one of the most diverse and are found in almost every country. They contain toxic latex, as with all in this family of Spurges. The name “spurge” comes from “purge” because the latex has been used as a purgative… Hmmm… The latex has been used for a lot of things including on poison arrows and making criminals talk…………

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Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra) (African Milk Tree) at 10 3/4″ tall (not including the leaves) on 8-17-21, #826-21.

This is the Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra) (African Milk Tree) I brought home from Mast’s Greenhouse on June 18. I don’t go to Mast’s that often, maybe once a year, but I needed to go there to see what plants they may have left. I was working on a friend’s planters and I needed plants… Of course, I usually find something to bring home. Anyway, I noticed several flats with a few cactus and succulents sitting in water. It appeared they had been in the water for QUITE some time because there was algae in the water and you could tell from the sides of the pot where the water had evaporated… The first time around I passed them by because I thought their roots must be rotting. Well, I had seen this plant and it stuck in my mind. It was like it was speaking to me… “I need a home and you don’t have one of me…” Well, that sounds just too weird. It was more like I was thinking the plant is kind of neat and I never had one like it. Despite the fact it was soaked, and likely had been soaking for no telling how long, I walked back around and picked it up. I think it was the only plant I brought home from Mast’s that day

I am still working on this plant’s own page…

Euphorbia trigona (African Milk Tree) on 8-17-21, #826-22.

I repotted it as soon as I brought it home, and the soil was indeed dripping wet but there didn’t appear to be any sign of rotting. It measured 6 1/4′ tall (not including the leaves) when I brought it home and it is now 10 3/4″ tall. Succulent Euphorbias typically have a VERY small root system, so keep their soil wet for a prolonged period is a NO-NO.

The plant was unlabeled but I pretty well knew it was a Euphorbia of some sort because it looked like a cactus with leaves. To make figuring out the species easier, I posted a couple of photos of it on Succulent Infatuation on Facebook. One member suggested the scientific name was Euphorbia trigona rubra… There are a few other similar species but I think Euphorbia trigona is correct. The “rubra” part was a different story. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) has a page for Euphorbia trigona with a very good write-up but there are no photos. A variety called “rubra” is not listed, but there is a link to a cultivar called ‘Royal Red’ which is what this plant could very well be… Llifle says this species does not flower, but someone made a comment that it does. Online, you will see this particular “variety” as var. rubra, ‘Rubra, and ‘Royal Red’. SO, what do I call it since it was unlabeled? How about Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra). Well, that isn’t an official scientific name, so I put the var. rubra in parenthesis. At least it is identifying this plant as being a shade of red. 🙂

Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra) (African Milk Tree) on 8-22-21, #829-1.

GEEZ! I am getting a little carried away with this plant. I had to take more photos. Just wait until part 3 where I talk about the Epiphyllum oxypetalum Tony Tomeo sent me.

When I took more photos I noticed how the leaves were all facing the same direction. Euphorbia trigona has three ribs, so the leaves on one of the ribs were facing inward… When I put the plant back on the table, I rotated it in the opposite direction to see if the leaves would change direction.

Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra) (African Milk Tree) on 8-22-21, #829-2.

So, Plants of the World Online lists 1,995 species in the Euphorbia genus. I read somewhere that less than half are considered succulent plants. The sides of this plant are very slick and shiny like glass and almost feel like plastic. I know it is real because it does have roots and has grown 4 1/2″ in just two months…

Euphorbia trigona (var. rubra) (African Milk Tree) on 8-22-21, #829-3.

Even though some Euphorbia species resemble cactus, there are differences… One is that cactus spines are modified leaves used for photosynthesis… Spines on Euphorbia are simply thorns. The thorns on this Euphorbia species are produced in pairs along the ridges and there are NO areoles like with cactus. The leaves emerge between the pair of thorns.

Probably all Euphorbia species produce leaves, but some don’t last that long and they vary considerably in size and shape.

I better stop talking about this plant or I will have to take more photos… I don’t very often use the word “cool”, but this plant is definitely chilly. 🙂

Well, I think I will end this post for now and start on part 2. There are 25 (or more) plants to go for the front porch… Part 3 will be about the back porch.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting And Moving Forward…

Sweet corn and green beans on 8-12-21 at 3:24 PM…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am sitting at the desk in front of my computer a little after 2 PM scratching my bald head on occasion trying to think of what to say. It is 93° F outside and the wind has been blowing consistently for several days. Well, it is supposedly blowing in a storm. The different weather websites seem to have mixed opinions. The first time I checked the weather forecast in the drop-down menu on the top right of my screen the Weather Channel said there was a 40% chance this evening. Then I checked again about 1:30 and it said 20%. I checked the National Weather Service and it said it was on its way but I didn’t check the radar. I went to the garden about 3:30 to take photos for this post and there wasn’t hardly a cloud in the sky. Like I mentioned, it was 93° F.

OH, the doe has not been back in the garden since I redid the electric fence and added another wire around the top.

Sweet Corn ‘Ambrosia’ on 8-12-21 at 3:31 PM.

A few days ago when the wind started blowing, the ‘Ambrosia’ Sweet Corn started falling over. Luckily, I had already picked all that was ready and it may be finished. This is the first year I haven’t had to stand the corn back up before it was ready to harvest.

19 bags of ‘Top Crop’ Green Beans in the freezer so far.

I started picking green beans last week and started picking corn on the 8th. I was going to take a photo of the five-gallon bucket of green beans from the first picking but I forgot about it… In total, I have picked 12-13 gallons. Of course, I have already been eating some. I doubt I will can any because I don’t have time to watch the pressure canner. That was dad’s job. 🙂 Well, I suppose I have time, but I just don’t want to do it. I think frozen beans taste fresher anyway. I just cut off the ends and freeze them whole. It is quite simple… Once I get the beans ready, I bring water in a couple of large stock pots to a boil, add the beans and blanch for three minutes, then drain and put them in ice water for three minutes. Then I scatter the beans out on sheet cake pans and put them in the freezer for three hours. You have to scatter the beans out thinly so when you pick them up they won’t be stuck together so bad. Since I like them whole, if they are stuck together they can break more easily when I get them to come apart to put them in bags. Doing it makes more sense than trying to explain it… Maybe I should have done a video or taken photos of the process. It’s an afterthought thing… 🙂 I use quart bags so I can bring a couple from the freezer in the basement as I need them.

231 ears of corn in the freezer as of 8-12-21.

The sweet corn did pretty well, but not as well as I hoped for. It isn’t quite finished and a good rain would help immensely. I picked the ‘Ambrosia’ first (the bi-color counterpart to Bodacious) and so far have frozen 98 ears of it. A few stalks had no “pickable” ears and some had none at all. The same was with the Bodacious, which I was able to freeze 133 ears from so far. I would say 70% of the stalks had one good ear so far. It wasn’t a pollination issue because there was plenty of it. 🙂 I also noticed the good ears were on top, while the lower ears were barely even filled out. You might think the pollen fell on the top ear, but the lower ears are on the opposite side of the stalk… The pollen landed on the silk just fine. Likely, it is a moisture issue and soaker hoses or T-tape would have been great. I don’t have either one and the sprinklers would have been useless with the corn being so tall… Much taller than me at this point. I hope to invest in a T-tape system at some point, but funds are extremely limited…

Sweet corn from the second for of ‘Bodacious’ on 8-11-21.

The second row of Bodacious was AMAZING with 54 beautiful ears. Some were quite large. If all four rows were like that… Most of the ears were filled out from one end to the other. I have seen very few worms this year compared to last year. I have only seen two large caterpillars and four tiny green ones that hadn’t made it inside to the cob. There have been a few of those tiny black bugs… Hmmm… I identified them last summer but have forgotten what they are called and didn’t want to back and look. 🙂 OH, with the bi-color corn in the other section, some of the ‘Bodacious’ at the beginning of the rows have a few white kernels… That is perfectly fine and wonderful… All the corn I planted is SE (Sugar Enhanced).

Mind you, not all the sweet corn has made it to the freezer. About a week before I “officially” started picking the corn, I picked six ears of ‘Ambrosia’ and put them in a pot. They weren’t “quite” ready but I had to give it a shot. It’s funny how you can barely see the white kernels…

Yesterday, after I was finished with the ‘Bodacious’, I picked seven ears of ‘Incredible’ from the first planting. The biggest ear, before it was shucked, turned out to be a dud… Four out of the seven made it to the pan and they were indeed “incredible”.

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ on 8-12-21 at 3:26 PM…

SO, I have been eye-balling the ‘Incredible’… Although ‘Incredible’ can prove frustrating in the beginning, it will come around. I proved to myself this variety is very picky when it comes to soil temperature. Once you plant and replant and it gets going, it will live up to its name.

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’…

Until 2013 when I came back here, I hadn’t grown sweet corn since the early 1980s. For the life of me, I can’t remember ever having any issues with it coming up or blowing over. I remember the first year, 1981 after my grandfather passed away in April, I moved to the farm. I planted 14 rows of sweet corn and only ate a few ears. Grandpa had quite a clientele of elderly ladies that bought his produce and they bought everything I could grow. One man bought all my green beans… 110 pounds!

Hmmm…

I have been pulling up what I “thought” were Morning Glories in the green beans and sweet corn. There is one climbing all over the Asparagus and a few days ago I noticed it had a lot of buds. I thought, “HMMM… That is NOT a Morning Glory.”

Cynanchum laeve (Honey-vine Climbing Milkweed)…

DOUBLE HMMM… I took photos, as you can see, and uploaded them on iNaturalist. Low and behold it is a Milkweed! Well, certainly not in the way we think of as Milkweeds. The scientific name is Cynancum laeve, commonly known as Honey-Vine Climbing Milkweed… I took photos of another vine that has bigger flowers in the briar patch along the south hayfield that turned out to be a Hedge Bindweed. It had bigger flowers like Morning Glories… How many species of these things are there anyway? What happened to the regular old Morning Glories?

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’…

Where was I? I am just going down the grid of photos as I took them… Oh yeah, the sweet corn. Yesterday I found a stalk with five good-sized ears but I didn’t have the camera and today I couldn’t find it. I was walking through the corn without a long-sleeved shirt on and my arms were beginning to get itchy…

Smut…

There is only one stalk of corn with smut this year. I had to leave it because I wanted to get a photo. Smut is very interesting in a weird kind of way. Last summer I wrote a little about it and how it is actually edible. Well, I am certainly not going to fry any up and give it a shot. It looks way too weird…

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’..

The last planting of ‘Incredible’ has a ways to go yet but it is looking very well… At least at 3:31 PM when this photo was taken…

One of the ‘Celebrity’ tomato vines…

The tomatoes are SLOW this season because I was late getting them in the ground.

Tomato ‘Celebrity’…

I have picked one already and one is almost ready…

Tomato ‘Brandywine’…

The ‘Brandywine’ tomato vines have grown like crazy!

Tomato ‘Brandywine’…

I have only found two tobacco worms and NO armyworms this year (yet). Hopefully, there won’t be anymore.

Moving along from the garden…

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ on 8-12-21…

The clump Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ is normally at least 2′ tall and over 50″ wide… Thanks to the doe it has not been able to grow… Normally, the deer nibble on the ‘Potomac Pride’ just a little when the Hosta first start to leaf out in the spring then don’t bother any of them the rest of the year.

Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ on 8-12-21…

The Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ has met a similar fate. Sadly, the ‘Krossa Regal’ are basically non-existent… I am certainly not happy with the doe… I know it has to be the same one, because I have seen her occasionally in the pasture behind the house all by herself. There is plenty to eat for her in the pasture/hayfield. Oh well, even though the Hosta are shot this summer, hopefully, the doe will relocate and I can find a solution to keep her out of them by next spring. I can’t very well relocate the shade bed and I don’t intend to put up an electric fence around such a small area…

 

When I was mowing last week, I noticed the right front wheel was getting a little wobbly… Earlier this spring, I had to replace the entire steering rod… Since dad and I brought this mower home it has had its issues. It’s a John Deere LT120… It mows weird, but I think I have that issue figured out… It was all about changing the way I mowed from a 36″ deck to a 48″deck… The Gator blades I started using last summer are still working fine.

Instead of using bearings in the wheel, there are only two bushings… They wear out quite often, as I have just found out. I hadn’t paid much attention until I noticed the wheel wobbling when I was turning. I thought the steering rod gizmo was about to have another issue. I drove the mower into the garage, jacked it up, and had a look… Then I went to the internet and found out people are replacing the bushings with bearings. I did NOT even call John Deere for a price on the conversion kit because they can be bought on Ebay (or Amazon) for at least half the price. The kits on Ebay run from $19.95 on up and include new washers and hubcaps for both wheels… I decided since all I needed were the bearings I would buy four for $9.95 and use the same washers I already have. If I need new washers, I can get them at the hardware store for a few cents… You would think the wheels would have had bearings in the first place. The spindles (axle) are kind of worn because of the bushings cutting into them, but I will have to replace them at a later date…

I went back inside at about 4 PM and decided to have a nap and finish the post later on. Maybe after dinner… There was not a cloud in the sky… The next thing I knew, it seemed to be getting dark and the wind was blowing like crazy. I got up and looked outside and the clouds had arrived…

Looking toward the garden from the front porch at 6:04 PM…

At 6 PM it started POURING like crazy. I went to the front porch and took a shot… The wind had completely changed directions and now was blowing out of the north.

The garden at 6:44 PM…

After the rain stopped, I went to the garden to have a look… The temperature has really dropped! Looking back at the first photo taken at 3:24 PM, you can see the ‘Ambrosia’ had blown to the north since the wind had been blowing out of the south for several days. At 6:44 PM is more leaning toward the south because the wind switched directions…

 

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ at 6:45 PM…

The ‘Incredible’ blew over a little. It could have been much worse…

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ at 6:45 PM…

From the north side… It doesn’t appear any of the stalks have been broken…

Sweet Corn ‘Bodacious’…

Not to bad… I have seen it MUCH, MUCH worse. Then again, we have more rain and wind in the forecast through Saturday evening.

View of the sweet corn from the northwest corner at 6:45 PM…

I knew we couldn’t get through a season without the corn blowing over but I was kind of hopeful. We certainly did need the rain so I am not going to complain. I have learned to accept the weather no matter what it does. I had to come back inside because it was starting to rain again.

I checked the rain gauge and it said 7/10″. The temperature dropped from 93 F to 70. That’s a 23° drop! Well, it sure cooled things off a bit and I am sure thankful for the rain. I guess the wind blowing the corn around a bit helped to get the moisture to the roots.

There is more rain, and wind, coming so I won’t bother standing the corn back up until it is finished… Well, we will see about that. It depends. The ‘Ambrosia’ and Bodacious’ were just about finished, but the rain may help what is still not ready. It will certainly help the ‘Incredible’, so I will definitely stand it back up…

Well, now it is 8:54 PM. Time to cook something for dinner. Hmmm… Grammarly says I have four errors but I want to eat dinner. SO, if you read this post before I edit it, you may find some mistakes…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

July 26, 2021 Garden Update…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The above photo looks MUCH different from the last photo of the garden. I was almost in panic mode for a while… I was late planting the garden because of the weird weather and then it started raining AGAIN…

 

The last post about the garden was a month ago on 6-28-21. It had been raining for several days and I was having to wait to till the soil (above photo). FINALLY, after it stopped raining and the soil was dry enough I got in and worked it over. Once the corn and beans were tall enough I hilled all the rows up. With all the moisture, everything was looking a bit yellow. With no cows, there hadn’t been any of the “good stuff” to put on the garden for several years before planting. I know corn needs nitrogen, so I had to make a decision. SO… breaking my organic rules (which I really had very few of) I bought a bag of 12-12-12 from the hardware store for the sweet corn. I checked with the Farmer’s Co-op first and they were completely out because many other people were having the same issues with their sweet corn.

It may sound funny, but I watched videos on YouTube to see how to fertilize the corn… In all the years as a gardener, I have never bought fertilizer for the garden. Giving the green beans 12-12-12 would be an absolute NO but the corn needed some ZIP. I also bought some fertilizer spikes for the tomatoes. Sometime between now and next spring, I plan on cleaning out the chicken house to put on the garden. I usually pile up their old stuff in an open area next to the chicken house, but it just kind of disappears…

 

Like I mentioned in the last post about the garden, Nathan planted four rows of Ambrosia (bicolor) and I planted four rows of Bodacious along the west side of the garden On June 3. On the 4th, I planted four rows of Incredible next to the Bodacious. The Ambrosia and Bodacious, which I had not tried before, came up pretty good but the Incredible did not come up well at all. Once I was able, I replanted it and it came up MUCH better. But, as you can see in the above photo, the Incredible is just now looking good. It didn’t get fertilized and hilled until a few days ago because it wasn’t ready…

 

HMMM… Jade saw me go toward the garden, so she had to come as well. She likes being with me in the garden and walking around to see if she can find anything to chase. She seems to enjoy the butterflies…

 

Last week, I think (or maybe the week before) I noticed the Ambrosia and Bodacious had started tasseling… It was only like 4′ or so tall! I thought, “GEEZ! That is weird…” I am so used to corn being much taller and it seemed too soon. It is 75-day corn so it should be ready around August 17 (or thereabouts). The past week the corn shot up like magic. I am not saying it was because of the fertilizer because the earlier Incredible that did come up did the same thing without being fertilized. Incredible is also a 75-day corn, but it had not started tasseling.

 

The Ambrosia and Bodacious have ears on the lower half of the stalk, making it easier for raccoons to get to if they have a chance. Since I have the electric fence around the garden with five wires raccoons seldom get in the garden. Kernal row numbers are determined during the 5th and 6th stage.

 

Not all the stalks are progressing at the same rate, even though the seed germinated at the same time. Some are just beginning to silk while the silk on others are beginning to show more color.

 

I had wondered about pollination, but there is certainly no need to worry about that. Depending on the sweet corn variety, pollination occurs 45-50 days after emergence. Normally, the last branch of the tassel is visible 2-3 days before silk appears. I may need to hand pollinate the Incredible that came up first…

I had not done any research about the different stages of sweet corn growth until now. Normally, I just get the garden ready to plant and then plant it. Dad always used the seeder and planted the green beans and sweet corn in double rows. While he was still alive, I did it like he wanted, even though at times I may not agree. Last summer I continued planting in double rows with the seeder but I paid closer attention and I learned a few things. The holes in the seeder are big enough for 2-4 seeds to get planted in the same spot a certain many inches apart. Watching the seeder, I noticed that sometimes the seed would fall out and not get planted, especially if too many tried to get in the cup on the seeder disc. Angling the seeder a little helped somewhat. The two problems with the seeder were 1) sometimes it didn’t plant the seed, and 2) the seed was planted too close together. To me, having to thin out that many plants was such a waste of seed.

SO, this year I decided I would plant single rows instead of double and do t by hand instead of using the seeder. I showed Nathan how to plant corn, so he started with the Ambrosia at one end of the garden, and I started planting the Bodacious about 30 or so feet away (25′ row, a five foot space, then another 25′ row). I put a stick where I wanted him to stop and I had a tape measure laid out so “we” could plant one seed every 8 inches. When Nathan was finished with his 25′ row, he kept going and I didn’t notice at first. The next thing I know he had passed the stick and was planting Ambrosia where I already planted Boadacous. GEEZ! Somehow he was faster than I was. (I was thinking, “GEEZ! That kid screwed up somewhere.”). Anyway, after I finished my row, we measured 3′ over, put the stakes in the ground with the string to mark our rows, moved the tape measure over, and started again. This time, I told Nathan we would plant 3-4 seeds every 8 inches. We repeated the process until we had both planted 4 rows.

There are a couple of reasons I planted single rows instead of double… One is because the spacing is somewhat more tricky. To get the spacing right, you have to plant the second row 8″ from the first one. I guess that isn’t so tricky when I think about it, but the other reason makes more sense. Hilling one row is much easier than hilling two together. Not only that, standing a double row of corn back up after the wind has blown it over is a REAL pain in the neck… I figure it will be much easier with a single row. Now all I need is some wind to find out. Wait a minute… I don’t really want that much wind, I am just saying I am prepared.

Before, I noticed there were a lot of stalks that had no ears which is a sign they were too close together. This year, I can assure you that all the corn that emerged at the same time, being 8″ apart, have ears. The majority have four ears, some have three, and I have even noticed several stalks with five. This would be a GREAT time for rain… Using T-tape would be great because corn produces best with consistent moisture. But you know, the soil is still not that dry. If most of the ears fill out well, and they should with all the pollen, I may pass last year’s crop of 373 ears. That will be with less than half as many stalks…

I still don’t understand why some of the seeds didn’t emerge. You would think planting 3-4 seeds per “hill” or “hole” (whatever you call it) at least one would make it. But, that is not the case. I dug down in the soil where the corn didn’t emerge only to find all the seed had sprouted but died before emerging. SO, all the Incredible that didn’t come up simply rotted that was planted a day later in the same conditions. I did find out Incredible has a poor germination rate at cooler temps than Bodacious. Even though the temperature was warm enough when I planted, it started raining and the temps dropped for several days. That was likely the problem… I wouldn’t mind planting four more rows of Incredible, but that would put the harvest date to mid-October. Hmmm… That would be a gamble with the first “F” happening around then… But I have this HUGE 14′ x 53′ bare spot!

I read a very good article about the stages of sweet corn by Seminis which was very helpful. I didn’t realize there were so many stages of growth… I also watched several videos where experiment stations had experimented with spacing on field corn.

 

The dark spot a little above the center of the photo is where Jade is laying down. She is about 4 feet into the section where the Bodacious is planted. I knew when I got ready to leave she would not come when I called her. She constantly reminds me she is a cat, not a dog.

 

The ‘Top Crop’ Green Beans are coming along very well and blooming up a storm. I don’t bother them too much because in the heat I think the flowers fall off more easily.

 

I think I will get my first picking in a couple of days so they are right on schedule. I didn’t take any photos of the tomatoes but they are doing pretty good and growing well. Not too many tomatoes, but the vines look great. Hmmm…

 

As I suspected, I was ready to leave the garden and Jade didn’t come when I called. I went back where she was before and she was still there. Even when I squatted down at the end of the row she still refused to come. I threw a small clod of dirt at her when she wasn’t looking which made her jump up. At least I got her attention then she followed me out of the garden… 🙂

 

The Barn Cat was taking it easy on the back porch…

 

And so was Simba…

 

Most of the cactus are on the back porch enjoying the heat and sun of the summer.

 

The Alocasia are also looking GREAT!

Well, that’s about all have today for now. I will take a few photos of the plants on the front porch. They seem to be all in pretty good shape enjoying the summer outside. We won’t talk about the flower beds or the Hosta. The deer have been busy in the shade bed, which usually never happens. They have ruined a few of the Hosta… GEEZ!

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. As always, GET DIRTY!

 

 

AH HA! Finally Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed) Flowers, ETC.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-25.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I went back to the blackberry briar wilderness along the south hayfield on Saturday (the 17th) to check on the progress of the Pale Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium) but their flowers still hadn’t opened. I took about 200 photos of 18 species, most of the plants I already photographed before. Even though I have already identified most species, I either need better photos, more photos, or I just have an itchy trigger finger. Once the mosquitos start coming, I’ll shoot just about anything. 🙂 But, amazingly, they weren’t so bad on Saturday. Walking through all the blackberry briars is bad enough and the taller they get the harder they are to walk through. I feel like hooking up the mower to the tractor and making a path, but I keep finding plants I need photos of. What if I run over something I don’t know is there? GEEZ! I could just take a machete but then I would be fighting the thorny stems I just cut… I will probably wait until after the first “F” and then mow down the whole mess from one end to the other. If I don’t, I won’t even be able to get in and walk around next year.

One example is what I just found on Saturday… (Yeah, I know it is Friday already). I was walking through the thorns and saw a plant I hadn’t seen before, flowers, fruit, and seed… I thoroughly photographed the plant from one end to the other so I could get a positive ID and upload the photos on iNaturalist and write a new page.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-30.

I was like, “OH, what is this?” Flowering stems growing in all directions and fruit!

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-31.

Well, it was just downright neat and growing right in the blackberry jungle… I thought finding this plant made it worth fighting all the thorns.

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-32.

It isn’t often you find flowers, fruit, and seed at the same time all on the same stem…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-33.

The flowers are fairly small…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-28.

The leaves are kind of thick and leathery…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC.) on 7-17-21, #813-29.

Stems are kind of hairy… I took a lot of photos and weeded out some. I just added a few on this post and saved the rest for the plant’s page which isn’t finished yet…

As it turned out, it was a species I found north of the chicken house in 2020 that had not flowered. You know, one of those that grow a rosette of leaves the first year and flower the next… I couldn’t properly identify it for sure until it flowered… When in flower, it looks absolutely nothing like the rosette from the previous year. Hackelia virginiana, also known as Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, Virginia Stickseed, ETC. Yeah, another sticktight with barbed bristles. 🙂 Another plant with “virginiana” as the species name…

Hackelia virginiana (Beggar’s Lice, Stickseed, ETC) on 7-19-21, #815-2.

On Monday, I was in the trees (and vines) north of the chicken house photographing leaves of the wild grapes (long story) and there the darn plants were, flowering up a storm. There were three… SO, the main species I photographed in the briar patch jungle on Saturday were flowering much closer. They weren’t flowering north of the chicken house the last time I was there, otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken 30 photos (more or less) of them on Saturday.

Honestly, finding out the species I found in the briar patch on Saturday didn’t seem as exciting after I found out what it was. Especially since they are right in the backyard… 🙂 Now, I am laughing about the whole ordeal. 🙂

Well, I do really need to go back to the briar patch jungle to check on the Pale Indian Plantain flowers. It has been a week! I am tempted to walk up the trail next to the farm, walk through the trees, and climb over the fence to get there instead of walking through the tall grass. It is quite a distance and I feel like I have walked up 500 steps by the time I get there. Then I have to fight the briars and walk back. I keep thinking the hay will be cut, but it still hasn’t happened… There is no real threat of rain in the forecast, but temps are definitely on the rise… The forecast says 95° F by next Wednesday!

Well, that’s it for this post. I did find a couple of interesting caterpillars on the walk on the 17th. I got one shot of one of them and it completely jumped off of the leaf. Nothing like it on iNaturalist and I can see why…

OK, I better close this post. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and be thankful. Get dirty if you can, but maybe wait until later in the afternoon…

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri Has It’s First Kid

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) on 7-19-21, #815-4.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Monday afternoon I noticed the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) needed to be rotated. It is sitting on a table on the back porch under the covered part. It gets plenty of morning sun but is protected from full sun. Not that full sun would hurt it as long as it isn’t really hot. When I rotated the pot, I noticed something… I moved it to the propagating table to have a better look.

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) on 7-19-21, #815-5.

It has its first kid… Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri is “one of those” Kalanchoe that produces plantlets from its leaves, phylloclades, or whatever you choose to call them. The scientific community calls their leaves phylloclades, which are modified “branches” used for photosynthesis… To the rest of us, they are just odd leaves. 🙂

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) on 7-19-21, #815-6.

I found it quite weird the roots of the plantlets are pink… I guess it’s a girl. I wonder if boys have blue roots? Please don’t take that seriously. I doubt the pink has anything to do with gender.

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) on 7-19-21, #815-7.

The lower leaf on the opposite side of the plant is also pregnant. It appears another one is starting next to it. I will be keeping an eye on it…

The other Kalanchoe are doing fine except for the Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons). It grew so tall, and I really liked the plant. It had a few branches so I decided I would cut the main stem and the branches off and start new plants. Well… The old main stem is growing a new plant but only one of the other cuttings has survived and it is iffy. Live and learn…

Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Elephant Ear) on 6-24-21, #803-11.

I finally have another Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Elephant Ear) thanks to a lady who read its page on March 14. In a comment, she said she could send a leaf which I readily accepted. She not only sent a leaf but also an entire rooted cutting which arrived on April 23… That was great because the leaf didn’t make it. The plant is doing great and is 4″ tall now. I was so glad when it arrived!

Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ at 5 3/4″ tall on 7-20-21, #816-2.

I decided to bring home another Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ from Wagler’s on April 3. She always had several to choose from but I had just not brought one home until then. She could have gotten her original start from me, but I am not sure. You can always tell ‘Fang’ from the other Kalanachoe beharensis because of the weird protuberances on the undersides of their leaves, which are also much smaller. When I took the photo on July 20 it was 5 3/4″ tall.

Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands) on 7-20-21, #816-3.

Of course, the Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands) is doing great. There are two plants in the pot that are offsets from the mother plant that flowered in January 2020. I had previously thought these baby factories were Kalanchoe daigremontiana but discovered I was mistaken. The leaves of that species have purple markings on their leaves while Kalanchoe x laetivirens just have green leaves. There are a lot of photos online of plants with mistaken identities… I need to get the two plants in this pot separated and may have to regrow them. They are getting quite tall and will start looking very weird soon if they aren’t regrown. These plants look AWESOME when they are grown well.

Kalanchoe luciae (Flapjacks) on 7-20-21, #816-4.

I really like the Kalanchoe luciae (Flapjacks, ETC.). They are easy to grow and undemanding except they like some space so they can sprawl a bit. I like their thick, leathery leaves and the white bloom on their stems (and leaves). I have had this species since I brought a plant home from Wal-Mart in 2016 so we have history. There are 5 pots with 16 plants (including offsets)… GEEZ!

Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) on 7-20-21, #816-5.

The Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) is still hanging in there waiting for me to figure them out. I ordered a plant from a Facebook member and it looked so great when it arrived in April 2018. It just went downhill from there and we have definitely had our ups and downs. Even though the plant had issues, it sent out an offset. The plant’s page is supposed to be a journal and if you read it will see the issues we have had. We made an agreement in 2019 that if it didn’t die I would continue doing the best I can. Well, both plants are still alive and now the smaller one (the original offset) is looking better than the taller one. The taller one looks weird AGAIN and the stem needs cut off and regrown. Hopefully, I will eventually figure out the Kalanchoe marmorata. I can’t help but think there is something it needs I am not doing… It’s a Kalanchoe, for crying out loud!

That’s all for this post! Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY!

 

 

Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) Identified

Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) on 7-11-21, #8-10-21.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. While I was taking photos and looking at the fruit/seeds of the Hedge Parsley by the shed on July 11, I noticed this butterfly on the wall. Its wings were closed at first so I didn’t think much about it. Then it opened its wings and I saw it was a butterfly I hadn’t seen before… I took several photos then went to get Nathan. Its wings were closed again when Nathan arrived. I told him not to get close or it would fly off… Strangely, it just stayed for several minutes with him just maybe 2 feet away.

Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) on 7-11-21, #810-22.

I posted photos on iNaturalist and it turned out to be a Vanessa atalanta also known as the Red Admiral. Although I hadn’t seen one before, there are several observations posted from Missouri.

Map of observations of Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) from iNaturalist members worldwide. The iNaturalist website is published on the internet at https//www.inaturalist.org. The iNaturalist website is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society. This map was retrieved and shared on this site with permission on July 15, 2021.

The above map of observations for Vanessa atalanta is from iNaturalist. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as new observations are submitted by its members. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.

Information online says the Red Admiral is known to be somewhat calm allowing people to get close without flying off. It says they even fly on people and rest for a while.

Information also says the males are very territorial and females ONLY choose males to mate with that have an established territory.

The primary food source for the larvae is Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle) and they can also be found on Boehmeria cylindrica (False Nettle). I have seen False Nettle here in the back of the farm but I haven’t noticed any closer to the house. I haven’t seen any Stinging Nettle recently but there could be plants by the old Mulberry tree. Well, a few years ago there was this huge colony of plants I suspected was Stinging Nettle but I never took photos for a positive ID…  Adult butterflies also feed on nectar and overripe fruit.

You never know, maybe someday I will see another Red Admiral.

The garden looking great, so I’ll have to take a few photos. I went back to the briar patch along the south hayfield on the 20th to check on the Pale Indian Plantain and took A LOT more photos. The Pale Indian Plantain’s buds still hadn’t opened so I will have to make another trip soon. GEEZ! I will get a post together because I made a new discovery. I FINALLY found a plant I had previously been watching north of the chicken house. It was in the wooly mess of blackberry briars. Then, on the 19th, while I was taking photos of the leaves on the grapevines north of the chicken house, I spotted a few more. Previously, I was observing rosettes from first-year plants with no flowers, so when I spotted it blooming in the briar patch I had no idea what it was. I uploaded photos on iNaturalist and when I saw the name I was surprised… Completely different! Then, on the 19th, when I was in the jungle north of the chicken house taking photos of the leaves on the grapevines, I saw several. Yeah, photos of the leaves on the grapevines. I will tell you why in a future post…

My next post will be about what the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) did. 🙂

OK, it is after 2 AM so I better close and go to bed. Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY!