Environment06 Jan 2011 08:53 am

From Nat-Geo’s photo of the day comes this really beautiful bee shot.

I don’t normally repost photos like this, although you can find links to them on my twitter feed, but this one seemed a bit more stunning than usual.

Photograph by Dev Banerjee, Your Shot

Environment31 Dec 2010 10:36 pm

Uromastyx princeps

Environment&Photography03 Dec 2010 12:34 pm

To follow up this morning’s trolling for Mono Lake Arsenic-eating Microbe search engine traffic, I have another picture I took this summer, of the Mono Lake Lupine.

Lupinus duranii

Clearly this is a classic lupine that grows in extremely harsh conditions, helping to reclaim lost land for the plant kingdom. Mono Lake does indeed have harsh conditions, harsh enough apparently that the microbes there are adapted to eating arsenic. I wonder if this Lupine eats arsenic too? Probably not.

Environment02 Nov 2010 02:34 pm

Des Moines!

A green roof on the Des Moines public library; National Resource Conservation Service

Environment02 Nov 2010 11:33 am


Seattle’s Ballard Public Library has a green roof by American Hydrotech. // © American Hydrotech/Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Environment02 Nov 2010 09:32 am

It’s the Milwaukee Public Library, and a bunch of progress photos for you to enjoy that come from these websites.

More photos after the break… (more…)

Environment18 Aug 2010 07:02 am

There aren’t any succulents in this green wall, but it’s EDIBLE! and that’s cool too.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

The design is a fulfillment of the possibilities of CROP CIRCLES! and that’s cool too. There’s a crabapple orchard, a vegetable amphitheater, espaliered fruit trees, and more. Reach out and pick a piece.

California Native Plants&Environment16 Aug 2010 09:49 am

Pt. Reyes Lupines threatened by invasive beach grass, with the help of a cute little native mouse.

It’s a battle between an invasive plant and a native plant, but with a new twist. The two plants, European beachgrass and Tidestrom’s lupine, are not in direct competition, and yet the beachgrass is helping to drive the lupine over the cliff.

European beachgrass provides cover that allows a timid deer mouse to get close enough to the lupine to snip off stalks of lupine fruits without being nabbed by overflying birds.

How cute is that little mouse? This cute:


Environment10 Aug 2010 12:52 pm

Scientists from the University of Arkansas announced at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting the results of a study that showed genetically engineered pesticide-resistant canola growing like a weed in North Dakota. They found that up to 80 percent of wild canola in their sample from various North Dakota roadsides contained genes that conferred resistance to either glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready pesticide) or gluphosinate (from Bayer’s LibertyLink seeds).

But it gets better, er, worse. The scientists also found wild canola with both properties. And as lead scientist Cynthia Sagers observed in an accompanying news report, “these feral populations of canola have been part of the landscape for several generations” — plant generations, mind you, not human generations. Still, this is not a new phenomenon. It’s true that biotech companies do sell seeds with multiple forms of pesticide resistance, so-called “stacked trait” seeds. But these wild canola plants managed this interbreeding feat all by their lonesome.

So, these genetically engineered plants — which, when out in the wild, are considered weeds — are cross-pollinating and transferring “alien” genes that confer pesticide resistance. The next step in the chain is for the canola to interbreed with other related weeds. Suddenly, the prospect of our nation’s bread basket infested with superweeds becomes very, very real.

Environment28 Jul 2010 11:46 am

Can you plant a roof with sedums and sempervivums and other green roof succulents AND still have room for solar panel? Well, they’re doing the research in Oregon, and the picture seems to imply they’ve already reached an answer.

Heather Noddings/Portland State Vanguard
Eco-roofs: Eco-roofs are being studied at PSU through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Environment21 Jul 2010 07:54 am

If you can’t plant a green roof, it turns out, painting your roof white is a pretty good step.

via Having White Roofs Would Save the U.S. $735 Million per Year | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

Environment25 Jun 2010 04:21 pm

Lion cubs in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Environment&News14 Jun 2010 07:12 am

The harissia cactus was introduced as a pot plant over 100 years ago and has since spread throughout a lot of Queensland.

The Banana Shire Council’s rural services coordinator Gordon Twiner says they are working with landholders to try to get on top of the cactus which is spread by birds.

Foreign languages, even when in English, are odd and confusing. Did you know the cactus was a “pot plant” in the “Banana Shire” and that “landholders” want to be “on top of the cactus”? Interesting. Let me translate that for you using google translate, into german and back to english. We get this:

The harissia cactus was introduced as a potted plant over 100 years ago and has since spread a lot of Queensland.

The Banana Shire’s rural services coordinator Gordon climbing plant, it says landowners are working to try on top of the cactus, which is spread by birds receive.

That didn’t work out too well. It did translate “pot plant” into “potted plant” and “landholder” into “landowner” so that was good. Now if only we knew what this “Banana Shire” was and why the people there want to sit on the cactus?

The Harrisia cactus is a night-blooming cereus known as the Moon Cactus (Harrisia martinii). Hard to know why it would be considered a dangerous weed from that photo.

The blooms are stunning! This can’t be a problem cactus to anyone.

Here we see why it’s a problem when it has escaped into the Australian wilds. Indeed that does look like a problem. If someone wants to send me some cuttings, I’ll be happy to research the plant.

Environment01 Jun 2010 10:13 am

It’s French.

With a curvy green roof… Wave House has a double-skin polycarbonate glass facade and a vegetated surface to shield against summer heat and winter cold.

According to architect Patrick Nadeau, the plants, which include…  succulents… were selected for “both for their aesthetic qualities as well as their natural resistance and minimal need for for maintenance.”

The italics are in the original, tho’ I don’t know why. High concept architecture.

Environment09 May 2010 08:11 am

Limahuli Valley on Kauai’s North Shore, with its green-mantled spires of volcanic rock, starred as Bali Hai in the movie “South Pacific.” The Limahuli Garden, one of five units of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, occupies 17 acres of this improbably gorgeous place; an additional 985 acres preserve remnant upland forest….

Limahuli’s signature plant is the alula (Brighamia insignis), a lobelia relative that could have been a Dr. Seuss invention; it’s been described as “a cabbage on top of a bowling pin.” The alula’s natural habitat is the precipitous Na Pali cliffs, where only a few individuals remain. No one has ever seen its pollinator in action; some speculate that it may be the elusive green sphinx moth, or something even more rare, if not extinct. Botanical garden botanists have rappelled down the vertical cliffs to hand-pollinate alula plants in situ. Alula has been successfully propagated by Martin Grantham at San Francisco State University, among others – but is hard to keep alive. An attempted introduction at Kilauea Point is looking unsuccessful. It really misses its cliffs, where it’s being displaced by the likes of invasive sanseveria, the familiar houseplant “mother-in-law’s tongue.”

The SF Chron didn’t include any pictures. Here’s a picture of one of our plants:


Flower closeup after the break… (more…)

Environment28 Apr 2010 08:13 am

A simple gray bird on a towering saguaro with astonishing creamy blooms, from Living the Scientific Life.

Gilded Flicker

Image: Terry Sohl, 8 May 2008 [larger view]

Environment22 Apr 2010 11:57 am

Glue traps for mice and rats.

It started innocently enough as an attempt to get rid of some pack rats around my home – a frustrating process as many Tucsonans know well….

I purchased two large glue traps, which are coated with a scented sticky substance that attracts rats or mice, which then get stuck.

The traps worked as advertised, catching three small pack rats. But I was horrified to discover that one trap also held a Western screech owl, an adorable species about 8 inches tall, which has had its habitat hammered by development. It wildly flapped its wings, trilled and barked, in a futile effort to escape.
Now what to do? An Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum staffer told me to call Janet or Lewis Miller at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northwest Tucson. Janet told me to carefully wrap the bird in a towel and bring it in….

Lots of human activities maim birds and animals but one of the worst, according to the Millers, are glue traps, which ensnare screech and elf owls, Gila woodpeckers and cactus wrens….

Lewis first used mineral oil to dissolve the sticky substance on the screech owl’s feathers and beak; then Janet used a small dropper to feed it liquid electrolytes to replace those lost by the bird during this horrific experience. A volunteer readied a cage in a warm area. A wash with Dawn dish soap will follow and plenty of feedings over the next couple of days. As of this writing, I don’t know whether my screech owl will survive.

Environment&News19 Apr 2010 11:01 am

Even with the development crash in Nevada, the edges of Las Vegas are still growing. This time into protected cactus territory.

A state-protected cactus may become a thorny snag for a developer with plans to build a subdivision near Red Rock Canyon….

But growing on the hillside land is the Blue Diamond cholla, a stubby, big-needled cactus that is among 24 plants the state considers “critically endangered.”…

Public opposition to Rhodes’ plan is growing among those who want to protect the cactus.

Well now that is a first – a group of Nevadans trying to slow development encroaching on the desert!


Blue Diamond Cholla is Cylindropuntia multigeniculata and the picture is from Bird and Hike, plus they have a dozen more photos including bright yellow flower pictures of the Blue Diamond. Nice!

Environment08 Apr 2010 06:56 am

We feature a lot of drought tolerant plants on the cactus blog. Cactus, for instance. But it turns out there is another solution for plants – becoming a nomad; getting up and going where the water flows.


It’s a nomadic plant from Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza. (via good blog, images from plantas nomadas)

Environment04 Mar 2010 07:08 am

It’s good news in the Southern Tablelands of Australia – the amphibians are making a comeback.


“Extinct” yellow-spotted bell frog found after 30 years

OK, so if you read the article, they’re not making a comeback so much as hiding out and doing their best to avoid people.

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