Final Exam of 2012?

Actually, just a pop quiz.

Continuing the "flowers that look like Christmas ornaments" bit as started on our Facebook page…here’s another, as seen a couple of days ago in our visit to the conservatory at the Biltmore Estate, Ashevegas, N.C.

You can probably guess the family by the leaf shape

Nice dangly peduncle, no?

Let’s have some guesses, temperate-zone readers! This had me stumped, and I’m not unfamiliar with tropicals. And yes, I want one.

(Zone 9-10 west-coasters: please sit on your hands for a bit, then you can tell us how common it is and "I pull this weedy thing out of my garden by the handful." Ha!!!)

Answer to Friday quiz

Lots of good feedback on this one!  Full marks, however, to our retired copyeditor Carolyn who nailed it cold. Maybe you should consider coming out of retirement and helping at the Seattle Times 😉 

Thanks to everyone for contributing!  If you see EPEs in your local newspaper (that’s egregious plant errors), feel free to send them along for inclusion in a Friday posting!

A Friday treat for taxonomy buffs

I can’t match Holly’s post for cuteness, so I’ll have to settle for constructive criticism.  Below are photos that appeared in the Seattle Times earlier this week.



Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the errors in nomenclature within each caption.  (This may seem insignificantly picky, but scientific names need to be uniformly constructed to avoid confusion.)

Anyway, have fun!  Answers on Monday.

Quiz answer – difference between spores and pollen

You got it!  Horsetails don’t produce pollen, and those airborne particles are spores.  Primitive plants such as mosses, ferns, and horsetails don’t have the same reproductive structures as flowering plants and conifers. Instead of producing seeds, they form tiny, windborne spores that can be mistaken for pollen.

(To its credit, the Seattle Times corrected this error the next day.)

Terry E. for the win!!!

Ray E. was heading in the right direction because he picked up on some family characteristics.

Terry E. got it…

"Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora).
As per Ray’s offering above, this species is in the same family, Commelinaceae, as the spiderworts, dayflowers, etc."

To any plant i.d. students that may accidentally read this:  family identification is important and helpful. The characteristic triangular flower shape (three petals) and six stamens is a dead giveaway (I get some guff for making them learn families).

Plant photos taken at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo.  Lush and gorgeous!

We grow it as a tropical here, but it certainly doesn’t reach 6′ tall as in Hawaii. Easy enough to dig up and overwinter (and share with your friends – we got our clump from local plant goddess Elissa Steeves). 

Quiz (a day early)

Well, I was swamped on my usual posting day, and now I certainly can’t top Jeff”s post – I laughed so hard it took away my initiative.  "Throw and Go" indeed. 

I think we should start our own line of Garden Professors Soil Amendments – "Dr. Holly for Hollies," "Dr. Linda’s Flingable Compost (Not For Tea Dammit)",  and "Dr. Bert’s Conifer Special".  Dr. Jeff would have his own line of slug repellants and traps – available in six-packs. 

Back to my post… you get a quiz!  I’ve rooted through my stockpile o’ photos and found one that just may fool a few of you.  Or not.

 Guess away!

Tom Fischer for the WIN!

The answer to last Friday’s plant i.d. quiz is Angelia gigas. Tom guessed it; confirmed (seconded?) by Johannes.

Fairly easy biennial from seed.  Bees and butterflies love it. This one’s a bit spindly due to too much shade (it had reseeded from another spot).  And that most certainly is not a dandelion in the background.

I love the buds – before opening, the flower is encased in bract with and disguised (?) with a wee leaf-like structure at the end.