Orchid Show

Saturday, was another cold dreary day, at the end of a cold dreary week. February seems to have extended itself into March and last Ground Hog’s Day promise of an early spring is fast becoming a bad joke. Anne had a school activity that maybe we’ll hear about? I know that she has some great graphics to share. I decided to use my free time to visit the garden and see this year’s orchid show.

The orchid show was crowded with photographers of all stripes. Madagascar was the theme for this year’s show. With the crowd, I couldn’t find my rhythm there, so I soon fled. I went next to the Mediterranean House and then the Climatron. Most of these photos are from the Climatron.

Its warm and humid environment is a welcomed respite from the cold and dreary weather that has over stayed its welcome. Unfortunately, its warmth and humidity all too easily fogs camera lenses that have been out in the cold. Fortunately, I had also brought Anne’s pocket camera and had kept it close to my chest. It was quite up to the task. What follows is some expository text, intended to add a little back story to these photographs.

The screw pine is actually not a pine, but a tropical tree. Native to the Philippines, it gets the name because of its spiral growth habit. The aerial roots act as props to stabilize the tree as it becomes top-heavy. These trees produce male and female flowers on different plants (dioecious). The tree pictured here is a male and will not produce fruit.

Commonly called the traveler’s tree or traveler’s palm, it is not a true palm. The common name may come from its similarity to palms and its ability to hold up to a quart of water at each leaf base. If you were lost and thirsty in its native Madagascar, this tree could act as a one plant oasis and provide a much-needed drink of water.

The Chenille plant, is a flowering shrub and is native to Hawaii and Oceania. This plant is also known as the Philippines Medusa, red-hot cat’s tail and fox tail. It is a fast grower and will bring months of continuous bloom.

Heliconia, derived from Greek, is a genus of flowering plants native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands west to Indonesia. Many species of Heliconia are found in rainforests or tropical wet forests of these regions. Common names for the genus include lobster-claws, wild plantains or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers.

Calliandra is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family. It contains species that are native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The flowers have numerous long slender stamens that are arranged spherically. These stamens give rise to the common names of powder-puff or fairy duster. These plants flower all year round, but the best blooming is in spring and summer.

Witch-hazel is a genus of flowering plants. North American species are occasionally called winter bloom. It blooms here in Saint Louis in late winter and is a welcomed herald of spring. The fruit is a capsule that splits explosively at maturity in the autumn about 8 months after flowering. The ejected seeds fly with sufficient force to travel up to 30 feet, thus another alternative name, snapping hazel.