May 2009

Photography25 May 2009 10:27 am


“Pink Joey”

I have one word to say about this particular plant: “Fresh.”

Boy, that was disingenuous.

Science25 May 2009 07:25 am

Sometimes we have a bit of science on this blog, sometimes even some Science! but today we have the physics of cactus, from Physics Today or some such journal.


(Left) Mammillaria elongata, or golden star cactus, displays a helical morphology. (Right) A magnetic cactus of dipole magnets on stacked bearings assumes phyllotactic spirals, similar to the biological cactus. With the magnetic cactus, physicists have investigated the dynamics of phyllotaxis. Image credit: Cristiano Nisoli, Nathaniel M. Gabor, Paul E. Lammert, J.D. Maynard, and Vincent H. Crespi. ©2009 APS.

And here’s the science bit:

In a recent study, researchers have experimentally demonstrated for the first time a celebrated model of “phyllotaxis,” the study of mathematical regularities in plants. In 1991, S.L. Levitov proposed a model of phyllotaxis suggesting that the appearance of the Fibonacci sequence and golden mean in the pattern of spines on a cactus can be replicated for cylindrically constrained, repulsive objects. Now, researchers have constructed a “magnetic cactus” with 50 outward-pointing magnets acting as spines, which are mounted on bearings and free to rotate on a vertical axis acting as the plant stem. With this setup, the researchers, from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), have verified Levitov’s model, and their study has been published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

There’s more too, if you click through. Maybe I should have borrowed a smaller quote, but it’s early and I feel like giong to get another cup of coffee instead of excerpting all morning long. Interesting concept, though.

Photography24 May 2009 11:16 am

The 3rd in our series of Echinocereus grandiflora hybrid flowers, because it’s the season for them after all.


Misc23 May 2009 12:23 pm


A successful Euphorbia repot last night in a San Francisco condo. Wine was involved.

Photography23 May 2009 10:12 am

More for Echinocereus grandiflora hybrid flower season week here at the Cactus Blog.


Environment&News22 May 2009 02:41 pm

A Lower Murray Darling Catchment Authority forum has heard that… the biggest issues facing the region are cactus and goats.

Whippets22 May 2009 11:48 am

Two! Two! Two whippets on vacation at Workshare!



Reader Photos22 May 2009 09:20 am

Matt sends along these photos from Portland, OR.

Should we try to identify them?


That looks like an Echinopsis to me, possibly even formerly a Lobivia. A very dense red color.


And this is a Mammillaria. So many flowers still to come.

I’m too lazy to ID the species, maybe you’d like to give it a try.

Quotes&Science22 May 2009 06:37 am

First the setup:

About 90 Krueger Middle School students got an early jump on the activities at this week’s BioBlitz at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The event, sponsored by National Geographic, is bringing in thousands of scientists and other volunteers to catalog as many plants and animals as possible….

Now the quote of the day:

“We even have cactus in the dunes,” Jaden Lance noted.

I like that. “We even have cactus in the dunes” would be a good title for my next book. (OK, my first book, but you get the idea.) Now how about a coda:

A seventh grader found a ladybug crawling along a blade of grass and showed it to a few classmates.


Nursery21 May 2009 12:06 pm

From the Irma García Blanco exhibit at the nursery, a couple of pots we’ve planted up.




Musical chickens!

Photography21 May 2009 09:04 am

The Echinocereus grandiflora hybrids are in bloom, and they are very colorful, indeed.


Reader Photos21 May 2009 07:33 am

Jerry sends along this photo of a Cactus Jungle brand R. narvaecense in full bloom.


And a closeup… (more…)

Misc20 May 2009 04:37 pm

It’s a cactus! cheeseboard from Alessi.


I don’t know what makes it a cactus themed cheeseboard, but I trust Alessi on this one.

Science20 May 2009 01:57 pm

Yesterday I published a photo of a Sarcocaulon crassicaule in bloom.

Today I “borrow” a botanical drawing.


via Aluka

News20 May 2009 06:55 am

From the Decorator Showcase we get this view of succulents and art, together again.


A mix of sculpture and low level plants on the roof. (Eric Luse / The Chronicle)

Misc19 May 2009 04:31 pm


Ah, yes, now I see.

Photography19 May 2009 08:53 am


Sarcocaulon crassicaule

A spiny caudiciform in the geranium family (GERANIACEAE) with shockingly ivory flowers.

Quotes19 May 2009 07:41 am

…the student-run nursery offers water-smart succulents, propagated by the kids themselves…

Shall I explain? Shall I tell you it is in Santa Rosa and the sale was last week? Shall I go further and provide a photo?

NO! I shall not.

But I will tell you how smart those kids are, propagating water-smart succulents.

News&Science18 May 2009 11:38 am

A possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder has been identified, and it’s Bayer.

From Salon, I’ve quoted the damning parts, but there is more than just this, so read the whole thing.

Beekeepers have singled out imidacloprid and its chemical cousin clothianidin, also produced by Bayer CropScience, as a cause of bee die-offs around the world for over a decade…. due to a disclosure in December 2007 by Bayer CropScience itself. Bayer scientists found imidacloprid in the nectar and pollen of flowering trees and shrubs at concentrations high enough to kill a honeybee in minutes….

Imidacloprid and clothianidin are chloronicotinoids, a synthetic compound that combines nicotine, a powerful toxin, with chlorine to attack an insect’s nervous system. The chemical is applied to the seed of a plant, added to soil, or sprayed on a crop and spreads to every corner of the plant’s tissue, killing the pests that feed on it….

Today the EPA’s own literature calls it “very highly toxic” to honeybees and other beneficial insects….

So is this what you’ve been using? It’s in Bayer Tree and Shrub products. Interestingly, they have a major research facility here in Berkeley just a few blocks from our home. What giant chemical company implicated in the die-off of bees do you have near your home?

Travel18 May 2009 10:30 am

…One more day in the 80s, but no, it’s freezing. A traditional Bay Area summer morning. Brrr.

Here, have a picture of two giant epi’s from our recent trip to Alaska.


They’re at Bell’s Nursery up on Dearmoun.

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