A Profusion of Protrusions


Tillandsia blooms. These look remarkably like the Tillandsia ionantha blooms we get at thre nursery. And T. ionantha is from the central american rain forest. So maybe, just maybe, we have identified a tillandsia species found on our recent trip to Costa Rica.

On the other hand, the rosette is probably too big to be T. ionantha. But it sure is pretty.

Do you kinow how many species of tillandsias there are? Why, there are 400. And if you include all the epiphytic bromeliads, then I believe you’d have at least some more than that, even.

Another Jungle Cactus


Epiphyllum pittieri

You can really see this giant hanging epihanging pendulously from the tree, and climbing way up to the top of the tree too. A very successful plant. Some day we hope to go back to Costa Rica when the epi’s are in bloom. Won’t that be spectacular?

Arenal Volcano


Another lovely multi-color orchid. That red is so vibrant because of all the volcanic rock it’s growing in. There’s Arenal Volcano in the background.

And if you turn around, right there, what is it? Read More…

Big Jungle Cactus

Up to this point on our trip in Costa Rica we had seen only a few scraggly cactus high up in the canopy on the trails in the jungle national parks. Here we were driving along a country road through farms and over hills, and BAM there was this tree covered with jungle cacti and lots of bright red tillandsias too.


Hylocereus costaricensis

This is quite the site to see. I wonder how long the tree can survive with that much weight on it? Strong trunk, I suppose.

Cactus in the Jungle

Jungle Cactus in Costa Rica.


I’m going with Epiphyllum costaricense, but without blooms it can be hard to know for sure.

That’s a huge amount of Epi hanging off that tree. You don’t often see true species epi’s in cultivation, since they’ve been cross-bred for the flowers so much over the years.

A closer-up picture after the break. Read More…



Today’s Costa Rican plant is an orchid. And there’s that wonderful yellow-green color that could lead one to call this orchid species by a name like viridis. But don’t even try, cause the orchid collectors will complain that you don’t know what you’re talking about. They do that you know.


I love the concept of the color Chartreuse, it’s not yellow, it’s green, but really, it’s mostly yellow.


Wikipedia calls this particular shade “Traditional Chartreuse”. Orchids come in so many colors, I think wikipedia should define their colors by the orchid blooms. That’s what I think. I’m totally serious, too.

Still, yesterday’s orchid was prettier.

Climbing, Vining, Epiphytic and Terrestrial!


Peperomia hernandiifolia

I like me some peperomias. This large leafed succulent was climbing this tree and was up over 10 ft. high. They can root in the ground or be completely epiphytic, as they vine their way into the clouds.

I like this photo for its evocative shadows.

Closeup of an Epiphytic Cactus


Rhipsalis baccifera

Same plant as yesterday, different angle. You can really see the pendulous branches in all their forking grandness.

Costa Rica


Epidendrum radicans

What is that plant in the background? It looks very familiar. Lets get a closer look, shall we?

Aha! I know what it is. Maybe I’ll share another photo of the plant in back tomorrow. Maybe.

Costa Rica

We recently got back from a botanical adventure in Costa Rica. We visited as far south as the jungles around Quepos and up into the cloud forests of Monteverde, and along the dry areas near Arenas Volcano (plus the pacific beaches near Jaco). So I’m going to be posting pictures, lots of pictures of plants we saw on the trip. I’ll try to identify species where I can, with the help of my trusty “A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica.”

We saw a lot of jungle cactus (indeed!) and orchids in bloom and tillandsias and begonias, and what do we have here? Why, it’s a Peperomia.


Peperomia rotundifolia

You can really see how these climb the trees in their native habitat. Seems a bit different than what we normally see in a hanging pot. Plus we have some bonus Tillandsias, of which I’ll have more to say later. We saw some really nice Peperomias in bloom, and I assume I’ll have some of those pictures too, if you’re nice to me.

Costa Rica Manzanita

Yes, it’s a bearberry from the volcanic midsection of Costa Rica.


Arctostaphylos arbutoides ssp. costaricensis

Also known as Comarostaphylis arbutoides ssp. costaricensis

You can pick either name you prefer, but I certainly recognize those small dark green leaves, the ripe round delicious looking berries, and the unmistakable bell shaped flowers.

The journal Brittonia has this to say about it:

Endemic to the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica… at ca. 2500-3430 m. It is an important component of the ericaceous scrub on the crater rim of Volcán Irazú and is abundant in the otherwise nearly barren areas of volcanic ash. Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.

They  distinguish the Comarostaphylis from the Arctostaphylos by the

The papillate fruit surface of  Comarostaphylis unambiguously distinguishes it from the smooth-fruited Arctostaphylos.

Now we know the difference, and we can all go out and distinguish them ourselves.

Costa Rica, Baby


In this lovely grouping of epiphytic plants, we see a cactus which is clearly a Hylocereus (probably H. costaricensis), a blooming Tillandsia (Oy they’re so bright – my eyes!), and a very happy orchid, species unknown.

I think we could all learn a lesson from these plants about living together and sharing. Here we have 3 very different species sharing a branch on a tree, slowly killing it off, together. Teamwork.

Epiphytic Bromeliad


A lovely bright red tillandsia. Looking at this picture, I feel that I must have placed this plant on that branch, for how otherwise could it have come to rest in such a picturesque fashion? Alas, it is merely the workings of the Central American rain forest in action.

Epiphytic Bromeliad Bloom Stalk


Colorful isn’t it? It’s a Tillandsia. Actually, there’s more than one, but only one is blooming. There are so many tillandsia species in Central America that it would take a tillandsia expert to be able to identify them.

Don’t you wish we could have collected some from the wild and brought them back to Berkeley and propagated them and then offered them to the public? That’s what used to happen out in the world not that long ago, but no more.

Epiphytic Bromeliads


It’s a whole outcropping of Tillandsias. I have no guess for species, but these were very common in the tropical jungles of Costa Rica on our trip.



Nice Bromeliad. And it’s epiphytic too. But really, look at all that moss crawling up that tree. Must be a rain forest. Tropical even. Hot and moist.

Hanging Cactus


It’s another Hylocereus costaricensis as seen in Carrara NP.

I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to be standing under a cactus like that.

I Fooled You

I had one more photo from Costa Rica that I was saving, and it’s a cactus, of course. I wouldn’t end this series on an orchid. That would be silly.


Hylocereus costaricensis

We found this while driving through mountainous farm country. These are a good fruiting cactus, so it seem like a good plant to plant along your horse-pen fence. They’re usually epiphytic, but this one does have a root into the ground, and lots of air roots holding it onto the fence post.

Now this is a cactus to end a series on.

Iluvia de Oro

Yay! I’ve identified a Costa Rican orchid!


Oncidium stenotis

And it even has a common name, Iluvia de Oro, or Golden Iluvia as my faithful translater, Babelfish, renders it.

Now, having made this tentative ID, I’m sure someone is going to contradict me. And that’s OK, I can take it.

In Full Bloom Spray


Peperomia palmana

In the wet mountain forests we found this blooming plant growing as a terrestrial herb and also growing along large trunks as an epiphyte.

Beautiful thick herbaceous leaves and stunning bloom spikes that if you were to look closely you would see are covered in tiny flowers.

In the Crook of a Tree


It’s the most adorable little baby Begonia. Begonia species are nearly impossible to identify, so I won’t even try. And most of the begonias we came upon in Costa Rica were in bloom, but this one was so photogenic even without the flowers that it had to be shared.

It's the Orchids


We saw a whole lot of blooming orchids on our recent trip to Costa Rica. Here we start with one up in the Cloud Forests of Monteverde. There will be more. Of course most of my orchid bloom photos did not come into focus since the flowers can be so small and the plants are way up in the trees and I didn’t have a tripod with me. And more than that, no names are provided since I haven’t a clue which of the many hundreds of native orchids this is.

Jungle Cactus

Another Epi from the Costa Rican Jungle at Manuel Antonio.


Epiphyllum pittieri
The plant is not looking it’s greenest, but then it is the dry season. Although even in the dry season we had quite a bit of afternoon rain. Even if not the prettiest specimen, it is a very productive plant, climbing up a pretty substantial part of that trunk. But we didn’t see too many of the cactus hanging around. There were way more bromeliads. But we did see more cactus nonetheless.

Jungle Cactus


Another Epiphyllum pittieri hanging off a tree. This one is very green and healthy looking, but not too big. It hasn’t yet completely overtaken the trunk.

Jungle Cactus


This is my best shot yet of the Epiphyllum pittieri in the Costa Rican rain forest. This was hanging high up in the trees, probably 40 feet up, and sometimes my camera just comes through even though I didn’t have a tripod. You can really see the way the cactus hangs off the trunk, and just hangs around, droopily. Very healthy looking; deep green color. Just imagine the blooms, because I have no pictures for you of these spectacular flowers. Something about the season. But just wait ’til I get to the orchid photos – there are always orchids blooming in the Costa Rican rain forests if you look closely enough. And we found them by the boatloads up in the cloud forest.

Jungle Cactus


Hylocereus costaricensis

Now that’s a lot of cactus hanging off that branch. Strong branch, I hope.

October 2021

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