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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Resuming Blog soon

Sorry for the not posting anything for a while. I moved twice in the last few months from Samoa to Belgium and now I am in the United Kingdom. On top of that my laptop crashed although fortunately I had backed up most of my photos. I did lose some photos and data but not that much. Then I had to get used to the new programmes since I could not get all I had installed on the new pc.
Another factor is that as I am studying full time so that reduces the time I can spend on this and the other blogs.
However, do not despair because I still have a backlog of photos from Samoa and Belgium to post along with the various series like Plant Families, Propagation of various plants and other 'special' topics. It will be interesting to introduce to you the various plants that while native to certain regions have relatives in other regions.
Also some plants that we assume only grow in certain regions actually do quite well in other regions. It will also be an opportunity to cover propagation and how to grow plants in different regions. This is one issue I have found frustrating in the past when looking for information on some plant I wanted to grow when I was in Samoa as most of the books and websites tend to be written for North American readers and it is hard to find information for the tropics although if you can track down Australian, New Zealand or better yet Hawaiian sources then you can find relevant information to tropical climates.
As I will be in the United Kingdom for a while I hope to be able to find the time to visit some places such as the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and the plethora of stunning and beautiful public and private gardens that you can find throughout the United Kingdom. At the very least I also hope to be able to add some variety to the critters section although while I have seen a number of squirrels and a young fox they always appear when I am without my camera.
So here is looking to some new posts and new material. Thanks for visiting Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters as well as my other blogs. I hope that you have found them a feast for the eyes, mind and soul.

Vincent

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Family Malvaceae - PART 1

The Plant Family Malvaceae also known as the Mallow family contains a number of plants that are no doubt familiar to many who live in the Pacific Region as well as those who have been in the region. The most common or popular being the ever present and colourful hibiscus which comes in an astonishing variety of colours, shapes and sizes.


However, among the members of this family are some which hold a few surprises either in that people do not realise that they are closely related to the hibiscus such as the Beach Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) which to most appears to treelike to be belong to the same genus.
Beach Hibiscus,  Hibiscus tiliaceus

Binomial Name: Hibiscus tiliaceus
Common names: Beach Hibiscus, Sea Hibiscus, Coastal Hibiscus, Coast Hibiscus, Cottonwood, Green Cottonwood, Native Hibiscus, Native Rosella, Cottonwood Hibiscus, Kurrajong, Sea Rosemallow, Norfolk Hibiscus  (English); Fau (Samoan); Hau (Hawaiian); Purau (Tahitian)
Taxonomy: Unranked: Angiosperms – Unranked:  Eudicots –  Unranked: Rosids –   Order: Malavales– Family: Malvaceae – Genus: Hibiscus – Species: H. tiliaceus

Then there is the Sleeping Hibiscus, Malvaviscus pendiflorus which although it belongs to the same family is actually from a different genus altogether.
Sleeping Hibiscus, Malvaviscuc penduliflorus


Binomial Name: Malvaviscuc penduliflorus  
Common names: turk’s cap, Turk’s Cap Mallow, Sleeping Hibiscus, Ladies Teardrop, Wax mallow and Mazapan  (English) Aute(Samoan)
Taxonomy: Unranked: Angiosperms – Unranked:  Eudicots –  Unranked: Rosids – Order:  Malvales – Family: Malvaceae – Subfamily: Malvoideae – Tribe: Hibisceae –Genus –Malvaviscus - Species: Malvaviscus penduliflorus  
Other species: Malvaviscus arboreu,. Malvaviscus palmanus
NOTE: Plant this if you want to attract hummingbirds or other honeyeaters to your garden.


Then there is the Common Hollyhock,Alcea rosea  which closely resembles the common hibiscus in the structure and appearance of its flowers although its seed pods and the whole plant structure as well as the way in which the flowers are presented is distinctly different.

Common Hollyhock, Alcea rosea

Common Hollyhock, Alcea rosea
Binomial Name: Alcea rosea
Common names: Common Hollyhock  (English) ?(Samoan)
Taxonomy: Unranked: Angiosperms – Unranked:  Eudicots –  Unranked: Rosids – Order:  Malvales – Family: Malvaceae –Genus –Alcea - Species: Alcea rosea
Other species: Alcea biennis (Biennial Hollyhock)

Another strange character in the Malvaceae family is the Rose Mallow, Hibiscus syriacus  or Rose of Sharon (an name it shares with another plant  Jerusalem star, Hypericum calycinum)
Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus

Binomial Name: Hibiscus syriacus
Taxonomy: Phylum: Angiosperms– Class: Eudicots –  Unranked: Rosids   Order: Malavales– Family: Malvaceae – Genus: Hibiscus – Species: H. Syriacus
Common names: Rose of Sharon, Rose Mallow, St Jospeh’s rod (English); Hibiscus syriacus (French); Rosa de Siria (Spanish); Ibisco cinese (Italian) Tuinhibiscus (Dutch); Straucheibisch, Scharonrose, Syrischer Eibisch, Garteneibisch, Festblume(German)



Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Summer in Belgium - PART 7

I have said this before and will say it again. A weed is simply a plant that is growing where someone does not want it to grow. Lots of plants that are considered weeds are also plants that people do not consider useful, commercially exploitable or "beautiful" enough to grow simply for the aesthetic value.
 
And yet all plants have their own beauty if you only take the time too look at them since many seemingly uninteresting or "boring" plants are actually quite beautiful in their own right. They just happen to be too small or only bloom and reveal their uniqueness if allowed to flourish and flower.

 No this is not a some deep metaphysical metaphor for anything about people although I guess it could be taken that way.
 But look at this "weed garden" full of some sort of dandelions. These are quite different than the dandelions I think most of us are familiar with not only in terms of the size of the plants but the size and structure of the seed heads. They look like balls of cotton fluff.







Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs                            

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Gardens of the van Buuren Musem - PART 5

Right next to the Rose Garden but separated from it by another retaining wall is the Garden of Hearts which is hidden by tall well clipped topiary which forces you to make your way between tall block-like pillars of greenery in order to enter the cobble stone garden with its heart shaped topiary.
The white gravel pathway between the Rose garden's lower retaining wall (right) and the Garden of Hearts (left)

 The last time I visited the centres of the hearts were field with blood red ....
 
View of the Garden of Hearts from between two Green Pillars that surround it.
 This year however, the Gardens have hosted an exhibition by artist ... and one of the "pieces" was a series of bright orange artificial "flowers" whose petals were made out of garden trowels.

View of the Garden of Hearts. In the foreground is one of the artificial flowers which was part of an exhibition being held in the Gardens.

View of the House/Museum from one of the lawns. The steps leading to the Rose Garden can be seen between two of the Green Pillars. To the left are box garden beds leading to the Garden of Hearts. The Greenery you can see below the house is from the vine covered terraces that flank the rose garden.
 




Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs                            

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Family Acanthaceae (or Acanthus family) - PART 1

The Family Acanthaceae (or Acanthus family).

Asystasia gangetica - Chinese Violet


Asystasia gangetica - Chinese Violet


Asystasia gangetica - Chinese Violet


Asystasia gangetica - Chinese Violet
Odontenema cuspidatum - Firespike


Odontenema cuspidatum - Firespike


Odontenema cuspidatum - Firespike
 Ruellia tuberosa - Popping Pod

Ruellia tuberosa - Popping Pod

Thunbergia alata - Black-eyes Susan vine

Thunbergia alata - Black-eyes Susan vine


Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

Monday, 19 August 2013

Intriguing Plants: Popping Pod, Ruellia tuberosa

Ruellia tuberosa also known by the common or vernacular names of Popping Pod, Cracker plantr, Duppy gun, Minnie Root, Fever Root, Snapdraggon Root and Sheep potato is a plant that might be familiar to many children in the Pacific Island region. As children a common pass time for some was to pick the dried pods then lick them and throw them on an unsuspecting victim. The moisture would cause the dried seed pod to pop, startling the victim and scattering seeds and pod halves in their hair or where ever the pod had been thrown.


Ruellia tuerosa
In the course of looking up some other plants in Whistler's "Wayside Plants of the Islands. A Guide to the Lowland Flora of the Pacific Islands including Hawai’i Samoa Tonga Tahiti Fiji Guam Belau", I came across a photo of Ruellia tuerosa and was surprised to discover after a bit of on-line research that it actually had some uses beyond being the instrument of childish pranks. Unfortunately as it is generally considered a weed I had trouble finding one to photograph.
Ruellia tuerosa
I did see one specimen growing at Tanunamanono along the Cross Island Road/Vailima Road but when I went back armed with my camera I discovered to my dismay that someone had decided that the road verge had to be cleared and it had been caught up in the process.
Ruellia tuerosa
 Fortunately while driving along the Maninoa - Lefaga road a few weeks later, I caught sight of a perfect specimen and was able to take some pictures. In the process though, I discovered that dogs too like to have their photos taken as this chap stopped and then casually posed for a photo.
Ruellia tuerosa

Ruellia tuerosa





Taxonomy

Order: Lamiales - Family: Acanthaceae - Genus: Ruellia - Species: R. tuberosa


Medical Use:

Scientific studies have been done examining its antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties.

It has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, anti-diabetic, antipyretic, antihypertensive, gastroprotective and to treat gonorreah.
Other Uses:

It is also used as a natural dye



Glossary:
Ayurvedic medicine: Traditional medicine of the Indian sub continent
Antinociceptive:
Anti-inflammatory: anything that prevents or reduces  inflammations
Diuretic: a diuretic is anything that promotes the production of urine
Analgesic:
Anti-diabetic: anything that works against diabetes either to reduce the effects
Anti-pyretic: are drugs or herbs that reduce fever. The etymology of the word is Greek anti (against) and pyreticus (pertaining to fever).
Antihypertensive:
Gastroprotective: anything that protects the gastrointestinal tract



Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/


Family Gesneriaceae

The Plant Family Gesneriaceae includes a number of familiar plants.

Flame Violets (Episcia)  belong to the Genus Episcia. I have two varieties (below) although there are many more including Episcia with blue and yellow flowers.
Flame Violet, Episcia (unknown species)
 They also have different types of leaf colours ranging from silver or green to burgundy leaves.
Flame Violet, Episcia (unknown species)
The depth, intensity and combination of colours on the leaves can also differ slightly depending on how much sunlight the plant gets.



Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

The Gardens of the van Burren Museum - PART 4






Some flowers have the ability to look exotic at all stages of their existence. Take this blue wonder.


 
Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.
My other blogs
· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/
· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/
· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

Summer in Belgium - PART 6

During Summer in Belgium it is often quite astonishing the number of bees you see around especially in some cities and towns. But then where you find lots of flowers you are bound to find bees especially when the flowers are the kind that bees like to visit to collect pollen. The interesting thing that I have noticed is that most of the yellow flowers have a rather strong "honey" smell.






Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.

My other blogs

· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/

· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/

· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/

Summer in Brussels - PART 5




 
 

 
Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters Blog by Vincent Albert Vermeulen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.be/.
My other blogs
· Flora and Fauna - Plants and Critters (on plants, animals as well as gardening, conservation and environmental matters): http://plantsandcritters.blogspot.com/
· The Blood of Souls (language, translation and etymology) : http://thebloodofsouls.blogspot.com/
· Whiskers on Kittens (Life with Kittens and Cats in general) : http://whiskersonkittens-vincent.blogspot.com/