Tag Archives: Calathea

Trip Report: Plants along the streets of Jakarta

Yesterday I went for a walk.  Along the way I took a lot of pictures of plants growing along the sidewalk.  Jakarta is not a particularly pretty place, but there are some neat tropical plants growing wherever they can take hold.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll be showing you those pictures.

Polyathia longifolia
Polyathia longifolia in front of a nice house in Jakarta

One of the more common trees here in Jakarta is the Polyathia longifolia, which is usually growing tall and skinny like an Italian cypress tree. It has long shiny leaves with undulate margins (wavy edges).

Leaves of Polyathia longifolia
Leaves of Polyathia longifolia

Some of my favorite plants (Aglaonema, Dieffenbachia, and Calathea) are growing everywhere here.

Calathea
Calathea
Calathea
Calathea
A pot full of Dieffenbachia
A pot full of Dieffenbachia
Really large Dieffenbachia
Really large Dieffenbachia
Aglaonema
Aglaonema, maybe

There are also lots of colorful flowering plants around: Bougainvillea, Plumeria, Heliconia, Canna and things I have never seen before.

Some sort of Acanthaceae, possibly Crossandra
Some sort of Acanthaceae, possibly Crossandra
Solanum
Solandra
Heliconia
Heliconia
Do you know what this is?
Do you know what this is? (Update: mr_subjunctive and peaches identified this as Clerodendron thomsoniae)

There were some other nice Aroids (besides the Dieffenbachia and Aglaonema) growing here and there…

An aroid climbing a tree.  Perhaps Epipremnum or Rhaphidophora.
An aroid climbing a tree. Perhaps Epipremnum or Rhaphidophora.
Homalomena
Homalomena

There are Sansevieria growing everywhere. I noticed one in particular that was in bloom.

Sansevieria in bloom
Sansevieria in bloom

When I finished my leisurely walk, I came back to the hotel, where is some more formal landscaping out front.

Agave in front of the hotel
Agave in front of the hotel
Garden at hotel entrance
Adenium (foreground) and Cycad (back right) in garden at hotel entrance

My walk took me to a park about a mile away from the hotel.  I’ll post pictures from there in a separate post.  Stay tuned!

Trip Report: The Audubon House

While in Key West last month, we visited “The Audubon House.”  You would think with a name like this that the house would have once been under the ownership of someone with the name of Audubon.  It turns out the connection is a little less direct.  John James Audubon, the well known historical figure for his art depicting American birds, traveled to the Florida Keys in 1831 in order to paint the native birds of Florida.  While he was in the Keys, he stayed at the house next door to this house.

The Audubon House
The Audubon House
John James Audubon's travels through Florida
John James Audubon's trip to the Florida Keys

The house has been preserved and connected with Audubon because he admired the gardens while he was in the area and supposedly painted some of the trees and plants into his portraits of various Florida birds.  The gardens have been kept in great condition as a tribute.

Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon
Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon - my favorite from the Florida collection.
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House

The house is now a shrine to his work and has a very nice garden outside.  We toured the house and gardens outside, enjoying the beautiful setting.  I think Christie and I could settle into this house just fine.  The trees outside are covered in orchids, and many of them were in bloom for our visit.

Brassavola orchid
Brassavola orchid
Crinum lily bloom
Crinum lily bloom

Other interesting plants filled the flowerbeds, including a couple of large Crinum lilies, some yellow Walking Iris (Neomarica longifolia), and a nice Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida).

The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida

There were lots of Calatheas scattered throughout the gardens, and concentrated here and there.  I have seen these growing in many botanic gardens, but not very often in an outdoor setting.

Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)
Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)

The gardens also contain some Florida native plants, which would have been important to Audubon, as he preferred to paint his birds sitting on authentic trees and plants to the area where he would find them in nature.  One of the natives I really liked was this cycad, Zamia floridana.

Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Philodendron stenolobum
Philodendron stenolobum

There were also some nice aroids, including this large Philodendron stenolobum (above) and Alocasia portei (below). I loved the pendant Anthurium vittariifolium, with its pink berries showing (two below) and now have a small seedling plant from a recent plant trade. I hope my plant is this attractive some day.

A large Alocasia portei
A large Alocasia portei (in the center of the image)
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Chamaedorea metallica
Chamaedorea metallica

My second favorite palm in the entire family is Chamaedorea metallica, which is called the Miniature Fishtail Palm, or Metallic Palm.  It has silver-blue leaves and striking orange flowers and berries.  It is small for a palm, with a maximum size of only 5 or 6 feet tall, and it is therefore usually growing as an understory tree.

Bed of Sansevierias
Bed of Sansevierias - probably Sansevieria metallica.

You probably already know that I like Stapelias. Am I crazy or do the buds of the Stapelia below look just as cool as the open bloom? Yes, I did bend down and stick my nose into the flower to smell the pungency. And yes, I did request Christie do the same. She grudgingly did so – after a third or fourth request.

Stapelia leendertziae
Stapelia leendertziae in bloom.

The Audubon House sits on a lot large enough to have several wandering paths through the gardens and 2 separate set-aside gardens: a water garden and an herb garden. The water garden was very tastefully designed, with some heron statues in the pond. I’m sure JJ Audubon would have liked to sit and stare at these nice statues.  The setting of this garden is similar to what I have talked about doing with a portion of our backyard, with the ground paved in either bricks or rock and a shallow pond or other small water feature.  Just a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden
The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden.

Meeting plant friends in person

Being a person with a relatively uncommon passion, I have friends that are spread far and wide.  Very few of my plant friends live near me, with the exception of people in the Oklahoma Orchid Society.  My friends that have a passion for aroids live in different corners of the country, and also outside of the US.

At the IAS show last week, I got the opportunity to see some of my aroid friends that I had previously only corresponded with through email.  Not only did I get to see these people in person, but we got to wander around in the IAS show and look at all of the amazing plants together, siphon through the pots and decide what we were going to buy, walk through the amazing Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens and point out everything we saw with people who were genuinely as interested as we were.

Derek, me and Taylor at the IAS banquet
Derek, me and Taylor at the IAS banquet

Taylor Holzer and I have traded plants and emails for a couple of years now and we have a lot of passions in common: aroids (Philodendrons, Anthuriums and many more), prayer plants (Calathea, Maranta, Ctenanthe, etc.), orchids, aquarium fish (especially cichlids), aquatic plants.  Taylor is a great guy and it was really cool to chat plants with him in person.  I’m glad that we both made it to the show this year.  Taylor attended the show last year, but this was my first time.

Derek Powazek is a new friend to me.  We have traded plants and emails for the past 6 months or so.  He is a fellow blogger and lover of a wide variety of plants, including aroids and orchids.  He is also a really great photographer.  He lives in San Francisco and made the very long trek (flight) to Miami for the show this year – also his first IAS show.

Banta, me, Derek and Ron Weeks
Banta, me, Derek and Ron Weeks

John Banta (known simply as Banta, to aroid folks) is a legend in the IAS.  He and I spent a short time chatting about our shared love of Calatheas and we took a walk through the gardens to find Calathea pavonii, which he has graciously offered to share with me, from his own collection of Marantaceae.  John led one of the talks on Saturday afternoon, which dealt with a project that Banta is leading a new project to collect data on the viability of aroid pollen with age.  If we collect pollen from our plants for use in pollinating other plants, how long can we store it before it is no longer any good?

Calathea pavonii that Banta showed me
Calathea pavonii that Banta showed me
Albert among the Anthuriums
Albert among the Anthuriums

Albert Huntington is the current Vice President of the IAS and does a ton of the legwork of the society.  He is in charge of the website and does a really great job.  Albert is always the first person I go to when I have questions about the IAS and, in this instance, when and where to be and all that good stuff for the IAS show this year.  During the show he was running around taking pictures, helping at the cash register, recording the auction sales and doing who knows what the whole time, making sure everything went off without a hitch.  We got to have dinner with Albert and discuss all sorts of fun things.

There were many others that I have emailed and finally got a chance to talk with at the meeting.  It was a great time and I am so glad I got to go this year.

 

New Calatheas

One of my favorite plant families is the “Prayer plants” from the botanical family Marantaceae.  These include the genera Calathea, Ctenanthe, Stromanthe, and Maranta.  I don’t have a lot of plants from this family, but I added two new Calatheas recently through plant trades.  I was able to share my Ctenanthes with two friends and they each shared a Calathea with me.  Plant trading is so much fun because the only money spent or exchanged is to pay for shipping and you get “free” plants in the mail.

Calathea concinna
Calathea concinna

The leaves of Calathea concinna are marked much like those of Ctenanthe burle-marxii, but there are some distinct differences.  Ctenanthe burle-marxii has rectangular leaves with a point at the end, while Calathea concinna has ovate leaves.

Calathea musaica
Calathea musaica

The foliage is of Calathea musaica is unlike any of my other Calatheas.  In fact, it is unlike any other Calathea in existence – quite unique!

Trip Report: Conservatory highlights from the IAS meeting in Fort Worth

I could probably write dozens of posts about our meeting this last Saturday at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.  Instead, I think I’ll write two or three posts, focusing on a couple of topics.  This post, is just some picture highlights from the conservatory.

Plant swap table beginning to fill up
Plant swap table beginning to fill up

After a morning full of talks and a nice lunch from Jason’s Deli, we held a plant swap among those who attended. There were so many plants that they overflowed the table and were spread out on the floor.  Philodendron, Monstera, Rhaphidophora, Anthurium, Amorphophallus, and even some Begonia and Orchids were available for trade.  It was a gigantic free-for-all and everyone benefited.

Urospatha in bloom
Urospatha in bloom

Out in the hallway by the entrance to our meeting room, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens had on display a beautiful and tall (approximately 7 foot) Urospatha in bloom.   This was an incredible plant with uniquely marked stems and an amazing bloom, whose spathe curved away like in an elegant arc.

Great group of plant friends beginning a tour of the FWBG conservatory
Great group of plant friends beginning a tour of the FWBG conservatory

There were about 15 people in attendance and everyone really enjoyed themselves.  Some of us knew each other from previous meetings and email discussions and others were meeting for the first time.  There was even one long-time IAS member who has been a well-known figure in Aroids for 30 years or more.

Crepuscular rays shining into the conservatory
Crepuscular rays shining into the conservatory. It felt like the Garden of Eden.

The conservatory at the FWBG is very well kempt.  The plants are in great condition and there is a nice collection of Aroids, as well as several other families of plants that I like to grow (like Marantaceae).

Our hands-on tour guide, John Langevin, showing off a plant
Our hands-on tour guide, John Langevin, showing off a plant

We were given a guided tour by John Langevin, who was generous enough to offer several of us cuttings or small plants from different parts of the collection, contributing lots of plants to our plant swap.  He was very knowledgeable about the collection and made the tour enjoyable.

Fruit and seeds from Theobroma cacao (Chocolate tree)
Fruit and seeds from Theobroma cacao (Chocolate tree)

John removed one of the fruits from the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) and cut it open so that we could taste the pulp which surrounds the seeds.  I thought I smelled something resembling chocolate when he opened the fruit, but what I tasted was very different.  The pulp had more of a mild citrus taste with the texture of a slimy banana.   I brought two seeds home with me and will see if I can get them to germinate.

Calathea ecuadoriana
Calathea ecuadoriana

I knew from my previous visit that the conservatory has a really nice collection of Marantaceae, but I was surprised to see a species of Calathea that I hadn’t seen before.  Calathea ecuadoriana looks very similar to Calathea zebrina and Calathea warscewiczii, which are already hard enough to separate!  They all have rich, deeply-colored, velvety leaves of green and purple.

Beautiful pendant Anthurium
Beautiful pendant Anthurium

There were a number of nice Anthuriums growing in the conservatory.  One of my favorites was the simple pendant Anthurium pictured above.  I like the long, slender leaves of the pendant Anthuriums.

The rare inflorescence of Scindapsus pictus
The rare inflorescence of Scindapsus pictus

Many people grow the Scindapsus pictus, sometimes called Satin Pothos vine, in their homes.  I have one on my desk at work and one in our dining room at home.  In most cases, these plants are grown in hanging baskets, or just in regular pots.  Rarely are they grown in a situation where they can scale a wall, as they like to do in nature.  This “shingling” habit is their preferred growth type.  Even in locations where they are grown shingling on a rock wall, they rarely bloom outside of their natural habitat.  However, the plants growing in the FWBG conservatory have bloomed regularly.  We got to see one of these early-stage inflorescences on Saturday.  What impressed me was the shape of the inflorescence, almost spherical in comparison to most other Aroid blooms.  It is also interesting that the plant blooms on pieces of the vine which have detached themselves from the wall where the rest of the plant is shingling.

Calathea loeseneri bloom
Calathea loeseneri bloom

Calatheas are not known for their blooms, but for their foliage. However, there are a couple of Calatheas that have very nice blooms (and much less interesting foliage).  One of these is Calathea loeseneri, which was in bloom this Saturday on our visit.  I was lucky enough to get to take home one stem of this plant.

Metallic fishtail palm
Metallic fishtail palm (Chamaedorea metallica)

The so-called Fishtail palms are given the common name designation because of the shape of their leaves.  Usually these palms are smaller than the more typical palm specimens which reach towering heights of 70-100 feet.  John told me that this particular palm (Chamaedorea metallica) stays smaller and has colorful fronds, making it a good specimen for a houseplant.  I really liked the silvery coloring of the leaves, no doubt the reason for it’s species name of metallica.

Screwpine Palm (Pandanus)
Screwpine Palm (Pandanus)

The Screwpine Palm (Pandanus sp.) is interesting because of the gigantic roots which are sent out in all directions to support the large tree.  The Screwpine growing in the FWBG conservatory was right next to the water and the roots which landed in water burst into thousands of smaller roots (below).  I imagine the roots which burrow into the ground do something similar.

Screwpine palm (Pandanus) roots in water
Screwpine Palm (Pandanus) roots in water

One Alocasia caught many people’s eyes as we passed on our tour.  Unfortunately, this plant did not have an ID tag anywhere in sight.   Maybe I’ll be able to get an ID online.

Unidentified Alocasia
Unidentified Alocasia with unique coloration - Update: Caladium picturatum