Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Red Hot Double-petaled Hibiscus

Double-petaled Hibiscus has all the beauty of the single-petaled ones but double the charm. It's the tropics version of roses minus the nasty thorns and of course the fragrance.
This double-petaled variety can measured up to six inches in diameter.

A Carpenter bee perched on a bud to soak in the sun, flying off and then returning. They can do this for the entire day. From my observation they do not gather from Hibiscus.

A damselfly emulates the carpenter bee in this bud-hugging activity.
The flower bud of a double petal Hibiscus.

The bud develops while a clueless ant scrambled over it being too early for the party.

The maturing bloom, just before it unfurl its petals.

In double-petaled Hibiscus, the stigma and anthers are at the same level while part of the seminal tube is fused to the petals.

Staminal tube of single-petaled Hibiscus
In single-petaled Hibiscus, the stamens and the style share the same staminal tube with the stigma held aloft. This way the chances of reducing self-pollination is better. The pollen grains are ready for harvesting by unsuspecting insects looking for nectar. An unidentified insect huddled up.

This is older variety of double-petaled Hibiscus is often refered to as the 'kampung' type which means village in Malay.

The flowers are smaller, measuring about two-three inches wide.

At this early stage, the flower petals are firm and rosette-like.

When in full bloom, the petals appear papery.

 The flowers are small and globular and look almost like pom-poms.

The next day the blooms are suspended by a thin thread which are the seminal tubes.

 Unfortunately, they can be prone to infestation by aphids and mealy bugs.

Hibiscus on old silver trinket box from Java, Indonesia.
(From my sister's antique silver collection)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cuphea hyssopifolia - Mexican Heather

Cuphea hyssopifolia (Mexican Heather, False Heather) is a densely branched shrub.  It produces small, trumpet-shaped flowers with six spreading lavender petals extruding from green calyx tubes. 

Leaves are elliptical, bright green and glossy.  The dainty trumpet-shaped fowers appear in the leaf axils along the many fine stems.

 Flowers are lavender or pink-purple and blooms profusely. 

This is a hardy shrub. It self-seeds easily and can become rather invasive.
Flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees. In fact bees absolutely love them.

Flowers are attractive butterflies and bees. In fact bees absolutely love them.

The bee's head is completely submerged in the flowers.

Butterflies find this false heather irresistible too. 
 Peablue butterfly (Lampides boeticus) with the wings open displaying the blues on the upper surface of the wings.


It is a field day, out in the sunshine siping nectar.

This tiny butterfly is spoilt for choice in nectar paradise.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dendrobium Orchids and the Carpenter Bee

Much to my delight, a Dendrobium orchid attached to the Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm Tree) suddenly put forth a short spay of only six flowers

This happen without any effort from me. I do not spray any of the tree-bound orchids with fertilizer or even water them as I treat them as parasite of the palm tree.
This Carpenter bee was methodical in its visit to the flowers.

It first buzzed its way to topmost left flower (No 1).

It then retreated and 

visited flower No. 2 which is the immediate flower to the right and so on.

Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm Tree) is a very slow growing palm. This clump is about 20 years old.

At the base of the mature stems, numerous new stems have sprouted. These can then be successfully propagated. They can also be grown from seeds, but this method takes a long time.

Volunteer ferns (corsage fern) on base of palms


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