Leaves might appear to be simple, but the closer you look, the more you realize that distinctions must be made in order to avoid confusing one plant with another. Many plants have parts so similar that, without specialized terms to distinguish them, a poisonous plant can be mistaken for a harmless or edible one. Taxonomists, or those who work on the classification and identification of plants, depend upon these distinctions to identify plants precisely. In this article, you will learn more of the terms to help you see how similar plants can really be quite different. . .
While flowers and fruits are essential to the future survival of plant species, leaves are vital for the sustenance and growth of plants in the present. Even parasitic, leafless plants depend upon the leaves of their host for survival. Here I'll introduce you to the terminology used to describe these familiar plant parts . . .
While most of us eat fruit to enjoy the taste of it as well as the health benefits, the Miracle Fruit is one that you taste not for the sake of the fruit itself, but because of what happens afterwards. You see, while this fruit has little real taste, the effect it has on sour or acid fruits and foods you taste afterwards will leave you incredulous. . .
After fruits, we are often very interested in obtaining seeds. Sometimes they will come from our own plants, from fellow gardeners, or from mail-order or retail store sources. Here I will introduce you to the botanical terminology associated with seeds and the three main groups or types of seeds. . .
In years of germinating many seeds, I've had the opportunity to see the occasional surprise. I'm not talking about some other type of seed mixed in with what is supposed to be "pure seed", but rather a plant like the ones I expected, yet with important differences. You, too, may have seen unusual plants spring up in your seed trays. Read on to see how this can happen . . .
As gardeners, we all know that flowers are not all the same. In fact, the diversity in bloom structures is mind-boggling at best. Just about any possible permutation of the basic flower structure either exists, or has existed, in the plant kingdom. Here I'll provide a little more detail about different kinds of flowers and inflorescences . . .
In my work, I'm always in search of plants with new, interesting and promising characteristics. One I found in 2008 is Alocasia hypnosa, a plant I had known of previously, but had thought difficult to grow and to find. Not only is this plant much easier to grow than I had thought, but it had several very intriguing characteristics. So intriguing, in fact, that I began to wonder where this plant really came from . . .
Flowers are something about plants that we all know and love, so why not know a little more about what a flower consists of? Here in this first of a group of articles, I will help you understand the various parts of the flowers you see and what the botanical terminology referring to them means. . .
You'll be hard pressed to find a group of plants as strange as some of those found in the aroid genus Amorphophallus. Among these can be found the largest inflorescence and single leaves that look like trees. The most commonly grown species go dormant in winter, making them ideal for the northern tropical garden. But you haven't had the full experience of these plants until you've smelled the inflorescences . . .
Some plants "speak" louder than others, but the language is the same. Once you become familiar with plant morphology as it relates to fitness for particular environmental conditions, you are well on the way to providing what your plants need.
While the genus Alocasia holds some of the largest Big Ear type aroids, several other genera are also known by many as "elephant ears". Here I'll showcase Colocasia and Xanthosoma and help dispel some of the confusion generated by naming plants from three completely different genera as "elephant ears". . .
"This will grow in full sun", is a phrase most gardeners have heard. What you may not have heard is that your "full sun" may not be the same as my "full sun". In fact, the difference may be so great as to cause you to lose your plant altogether, or have more success with it than I have! The same applies to how moist or dry a plant likes to be. Read on to find out why. . .
This is, perhaps, the most diverse group of "Big Ears". Most EE fanciers are familiar with at least one of these, and may have one or more in their collections or gardens. Alocasia 'Borneo Giant', a notable member of the group, is among the largest of the large Alocasia species. Read on for a real "Earful". . .
When the winds stop howling and you can venture outside, what will you see? Will your trees and plants still be there, a bit tattered but none the worse for wear, or will you find utter chaos and unrecognizable twisted remains? Here I'll share about landscape choices you can make so when you go outside after the storm, most of what you clean up will be from other people's landscapes, not yours!
The archetypal Alocasia odora is among the hardiest of the Big Ears. Of course, when discussing tropical greenery, "hardy" is a relative term. Here I mean that a frost or light freeze will not kill the plant, and that this species can survive in subtropical climates without extraordinary protection. It is in working with this group, though, that I've learned that the lines between species can be blurrier than one might imagine. . .
Have you ever considered how your plants and trees can actually protect your home from damage in severe storms? Rather than being a danger to your home, your landscaping can help protect your home, taking the brunt of the storm on your behalf. Read on to see how. . .
Some plants are like icons in gardens, and when crafting a tropical garden, one of the most important icons is the group of big leaved plants known by some as "Elephant Ears", or "EEs". Among these, the large terrestrial Alocasias hold the position of prominence - read on for an introduction to these behemoths of tropical splendor . . .
Trees grown in standard nursery pots often have root systems that are a disaster waiting to happen. Why? Because in a standard nursery pot, the tree roots have no option but to follow the pot wall, around and around. Unlike the arms of an octopus, these roots cannot unwrap or unfurl once the tree is planted in the ground.
Here I'll explore the nature of greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect, and some of the possibilities that can result from small changes. The Earth's weather systems have characteristics that can be modeled in chaos theory. I describe such systems as fractalic, or like a fractal. Changing a parameter in a fractalic equation results in unpredictable outcomes . . .
While most of the Jewels featured here so far have been truly regal, this one is a little closer to the "common folk" in that although it looks metallic, the metal is not a noble metal or gem. Nonetheless, it is quite special, yet a bit easier to grow than most of the others I've discussed. Read on to learn more . . .
If you thought that the Little Queen or her royal relatives were finicky, you haven't experienced this plant. Alocasia villeneuvii has been in collections longer than many of the others, but rarely do you see an adult specimen. Read on to find out why. . .
This hot little number is sure to add some smoulder to your Jewel collection. Different in some ways from the other Jewel Alocasias I've discussed here, this one still requires some focused attention to keep it thriving. Read on . . .
The colors on the leaves of this Blue Jewel are said to be the reverse of those on plants we've been looking at recently. Wait a minute, what does "reverse" mean here? The reverse of what? Let's explore this Jewel, and this dilemma, together - read on. . .
As important as recycling is to the sustainability of life on this planet, one form of recycling may be the least recognized, and yet the most critically important, of all. Here I'll share about what could very well be the fundamental and primary recycling activity we can engage in for our gardens and farms. . .
This jewel is actually two jewels, at least in my view, because the two types are different enough to enjoy separately or together in your collection. Which one you find depends upon where your nursery is obtaining their young plants. . .
We all know that the default color for plant leaves is green, whether it is a blue-green or a lime green, or any other shade of green. That's why we are so taken by leaves of other colors, such as fall foliage, or garden plants with white-splotched, yellow-splotched, orange, pink or red colors on the leaves. Here is the explanation for why we see colors such as these on some of our plants . . .
Of all the Jewel Alocasias, this one has the award for the thickest leaf, as well as the most heavily textured leaf. If you didn't know this was a real plant, you'd have good reason to believe this plant was made from plastic. It is real, though, and you, too, can try growing it. That is, if you know how to care for Jewels. . .
Natural soil is a veritable cornucopia of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other small organisms, all living together in a delicate balance. Any disruption of that balance can result in one or more of the microbes gaining an upper hand over the others. In some cases, the ones proliferating are pathogenic, or damaging to your plants. Now, imagine a soilless media, practically devoid of any microflora, becoming inoculated with a pathogen. Without competition, the surprise is that any plant growing in such a medium survives! Fortunately, the means to restore a population of beneficial microbes to your soilless medium is available. Read on . . .
Of all the smaller Jewels, Alocasia reginula 'Black Velvet' is one of the most familiar and recognizable. The dark, almost black leaves, adorned with brilliant silvery-white veins and velvety look make for an unmistakably beautiful sight. You just want to hug and baby this wonderful little plant, but in so doing you may kill her with kindness. Read on. . .
The Caladium community is being turned on its ear by the newest varieties coming out of Thailand. There's no telling what they are doing over there, but one thing is for sure, they have developed some stunning plants that are now available in the U. S. A. Before you plunk down your cash, however, let me tell you my experience with these entrancing beauties . . .
Each year at this time of year, we begin seeing Caladiums show up for Spring planting. Most of the varieties seem the same, or similar, from year to year. Does that mean that new varieties are pretty much a thing of the past? Well, even though Caladiums have been hybridized for over 100 years, you can still come up with some that are your own unique creations. Read on and I'll show you how . . .
In my imaginings about Aroidia the idea of technological advancement had not occurred to me. After all, Aroidia was a place of all plants, and even though two intelligent races were present, neither of them displayed any indication of technological or scientific development. Or had I just missed what was so obvious that it was totally hidden until now?
Of all the plants I've imagined, this particular one has the most beautiful inflorescence. It represents the most advanced version of the "three becoming one" growth habit shown most often by plants in the Aroidian genus Triklados. . .
On Earth, genera and species of vining aroids abound. Some of them ascend to the heights of canopy trees in the rainforest, while others creep up rockfaces with leaves closely appressed to the rock. On Aroidia, one of the few vining plants is the Chain Vine, a plant with some of the most unusual leaves of any on the planet. However, the "Butterfly Palm" gives the Chain Vine significant competition in the unusual leaf department. . .
Not all plants on Aroidia are strange or unfamiliar, as my imagination soon revealed to me. A number of plants were very reminiscent of real aroids on Earth. In fact, some of these plants are ones that may be the end results of my current hybrid research work. My journey of imagination continues with selected examples of these familiar, yet different, flora and the environments they thrive in.
The way plants grow is often affected by the climatic conditions under which they grow. For example, trees growing very high up on mountains will grow much smaller than the same species growing in the valleys. This turns out to be true on Aroidia as well, as certain species found in the northern latitudes can grow in forms different than those found nearer the equator. This knowledge helped to explain the double-decker branching structures I encountered in some extreme northern latitude species of Triklados. . .
Delving into the depths of the vast Aroidian ocean is an adventure that would test even the mettle of Jacques Cousteau! Fortunately for me, voyaging in my imagination provided me all the safety I required. From giant swaying seaweed-like ribbon forests to the object of my adventure, the aquatic sentient aroids, this search was bound to turn up something interesting. And it did . . .