Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday morning Sheba picture

It's Sheba!

Nothing new with her lately. She eats, she poops, she sleeps. Same as it ever was.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Unfinished business: Strelitzia juncea and Araucaria bidwillii, plus Something Personal-ish

Last September, I got 18 seeds from 5 Strelitzia juncea, 10 Calathea lutea, and 3 Araucaria bidwillii. Including shipping, I paid $16.80.

I knew going in that all three plants are slow and irregular germinators, but even taking that into account, I've been really disappointed. Two Strelitzia seeds came up in October and November, and those look like they're going to be reasonably healthy plants, knock wood. I also have an Araucaria seedling as of January, which appears to have survived being transplanted (did that on 10 April), and is producing new growth as you read this. But I had been expecting a lot more plants than three, and more species than two. If I want to pay $5 for a plant, there are plenty of garden centers around that would accommodate me.

The Strelitzia seedlings as of yesterday.
Also shown: Polyscias fruticosa 'Elegans' (upper right), Euphorbia leuconeura seedling (right center), unidentified Episcia (lower right).

I've purchased several other kinds of seeds from,1 and in most of those cases, I think it was my fault I didn't get any plants. Usually the problem was moisture, either too much or too little (or both). But I feel like I was doing everything right with these seeds, and I'm not getting any better results. So I'm pretty frustrated.

The Araucaria seedling, post-transplant. I was worried for a little bit, but the top third of the stem is all new since the transplant, so it's clearly fine. (Left: Tradescantia pallida; right: Ceropegia woodii.)

I gave up on the Calatheas, and the ungerminated Strelitzias, on Tuesday (20 May); the remaining Araucaria seeds are probably not going to do anything either, but they're in one of the pretzel containers and consequently require no maintenance, so they get a little while longer to try.2 This is also probably the last time I buy anything from The service was prompt, as far as I know they sent me the things I asked for, and the prices aren't outrageous, but there's little point in buying the seeds if doing so doesn't eventually result in new plants.

In other news, on Tuesday morning I woke up with what was likely the worst pain I have ever experienced, just to the left of my spine, on my upper back. Well, upper back, shoulder, and neck. That whole area. It turns out that not only is it possible to whimper involuntarily, it's possible to whimper involuntarily without even being fully aware that you're doing it. The pain became, eventually, manageable with ibuprofen. Wednesday was less awful but still pretty bad.

I was worried enough about it to see a doctor late on Wednesday. The best-case scenario I was envisioning was that she'd tell me to just eat lots of ice cream and read my new book about Anthurium breeding,3 and that that would make the pain go away completely, and it would never come back again.

And, well, not quite. The diagnosis was that it was just a pulled trapezius, albeit maybe an especially painfully pulled trapezius. Which I suppose I'm glad that it's nothing serious (The worst case scenario was a slipped/ruptured/herniated disc, which seemed plausible when I was googling on Tuesday night.), and that it will heal. On the other hand, though, if this wasn't something particularly serious, that means that it could happen again. I could wake up shrieking in pain basically any day from now until I die, and there's apparently nothing to be done about it. So, going to sleep at night has just become that much more fraught.

Though I suppose in theory, anybody could wake up in staggering amounts of pain at any time, from one thing or another. The possibility was always there; it just wasn't real to me until this week.

In any case. I did at least get a prescription out of it, because my doctor has a sense of humor. (And because I asked.)


1 Pandanus utilis, Cissus rhombifolia, Cordyline fruticosa, Haworthia pumila, Ficus religiosa, Trichocereus peruvianus (possibly Echinopsis?), an Aloe assortment, Carludovica palmata, and a Schefflera of unremembered species (probably S. actinophylla).
2 The seeds were still, in theory, capable of germinating, but the more time went by, the less optimistic I was that anything would happen. Also, the more time passed without any sprouts, the more cool things the Anthurium seedlings did, and the less exciting the prospect of having a Calathea lutea seemed when I could up-pot Anthuriums and watch them do cool things.
3 Oh! I have a new book about Anthurium breeding! (Breeding Anthuriums in Hawaii, Haruyuki Kamemoto and Adelheid R. Kuehnle, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1996, $7.81 used on Amazon and that included shipping) And if you think there are not eventually going to be blog posts about the things I am learning from the book, you are hilariously mistaken.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pretty picture: Leomesezia Lava Burst

Not the most impressive photo, I know.

I hadn't heard of Leomesezia before this; part of the reason is that it's changed names recently (used to be Howeara, which I had heard of). Leomesezia is the nothogenus1 for crosses of Rodriguezia, Oncidium, and Leochilus. (EDIT: actually I have no idea what Leomesezia is the nothogenus for. Various websites are pointing me in different directions. My best guess is now Gomesa x Leochilus x Rodriguezia. Check the comments to this post for further taxonomic excitement.)

Leomesezia Lava Burst = Leomesezia Mini-Primi x Rodriguezia lanceolata (Ref.)


1 When you cross species or hybrids within the same genus, like with Vanda Princess Mikasa, the genealogy of which breaks down as:

Vanda Princess Mikasa = Vanda Royal Sapphire x Vanda coerulea
Vanda Royal Sapphire = Vanda Waianae Blue x Vanda Yip Sum Wah
Vanda Waianae Blue = Vanda Rothschildiana x Vanda Helen Paoa
Vanda Yip Sum Wah = Vanda Pukele x Vanda curvifolia
Vanda Rothschildiana = Vanda coerulea x Vanda sanderiana
Vanda Helen Paoa = Vanda sanderiana x Vanda Emily Notley
Vanda Pukele = Vanda Betsy Sumner x Vanda sanderiana
Vanda Emily Notley = Vanda Memoria T. Iwasaki x Vanda tessellata
Vanda Betsy Sumner = Vanda Faustii x Vanda sanderiana
Vanda Memoria T. Iwasaki = Vanda dearei x Vanda tricolor
Vanda Faustii = Vanda Gilbert Triboulet x Vanda luzonica
Vanda Gilbert Triboulet = Vanda coerulea x Vanda tricolor


Vanda Princess Mikasa = (((Vanda coerulea x Vanda sanderiana) x (Vanda sanderiana x ((Vanda dearei x Vanda tricolor) x Vanda tessellata))) x (((((Vanda coerulea x Vanda tricolor) x Vanda luzonica) x Vanda sanderiana) x Vanda sanderiana) x Vanda curvifolia)) x Vanda coerulea

even if describing where your hybrid came from is very complicated and requires lots of parentheses, the resulting orchid is still a Vanda, because all the individual species that went into making it were Vandas.

However, if you make a cross between plants in multiple genera, like Miltonia flavescens and Brassia verrucosa, you can't call the resulting seedlings Miltonias because half of their genes are from Brassia, and you can't call them Brassias because half of their genes are from Miltonia, so you have to invent a genus for them to belong to or else all the other orchid breeders will laugh at you. These invented genera are called nothogenera, from the Greek nothos (pl. nothoi), meaning bastard. Which seems a little judgmental but whatever. In the Miltonia x Brassia example, the resulting seedlings are collectively designated "Bratonia Aristocrat," where Bratonia is the invented nothogenus.

In most plant families, the names of nothogenera are fairly straightforward combinations of the two original genera, like Gasteria x Aloe = Gasteraloe or Cryptanthus x Billbergia = Cryptbergia, but it looks like after a couple of straightforward early attempts (Brassolaelia = Brassia x Laelia; Neoglossum = Ascoglossum x Neofinetia), orchid breeders started running into cases where the obvious simple names for a new combination was already taken by some other, earlier combination, or where the obvious combination was already a word. (Though that didn't stop anybody from naming the cross of Gastrochilus and Doritis "Gastritis," which I find sort of delightful. Alas, there's a debate about whether Doritis is actually its own genus or just a subset of Phalaenopsis. If the latter group prevails, the orchid breeders of the world will forever be cured of their Gastritis.) So, rather than have a bunch of really similar names, they started honoring people by giving them nothogenus names, hence Alexanderara, Fernandezia, and the like.

I don't know where the name Leomesezia came from, so I don't know if it's honoring a person or not. (Google comes up empty for "Leo Mesez" but insists that I probably mean "Leo Mendez," or possibly "Leo meses." I don't mean either of those, but try convincing Google that you know what you're typing and see how far it gets you.) In any case, that's the logic behind nothogenera.