Orchids!

Did I mention we saw orchids while traipsing through the rain forests of Costa Rica?

orchid5

This one shouldn’t be too hard to identify. Anyone want to try?

It's the Orchids

orchid1

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.

Radiator Plant

peperomia_rotundifolia3

Peperomia rotundifolia has a number of common names, including Yerba Linda and creeping peperomia, creeping buttons, royal velvet plant, and my favorite the Radiator Plant. So you can tell that this is a well travelled plant.

Here we see a fully blooming specimen creeping along a tree branch  in it’s original habitat high up in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica, although it’s range runs from Mexico to Brazil. My book also says it can be found in Tanzania, but that can’t be right.

Maguey

agave_angustifolia

Agave angustifolia

This Costa Rican native grows to anywhere from 3 to 6 ft. across, and is very popular in cultivation for its colorful marginated and variegated varieties. Here we see one in its native habitat – a sunny field. Let’s romp.

Jungle Cactus

hylocereus_costaricensis3

Hylocereus costaricensis

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

Costa Rica, Baby

mixed_hylocereus

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.

Pendant Cactus

pendant

We’re not sure what cactus this is that we found in the rain forests of Costa Rica, more specifically in Manuel Antonio NP, but it sure is impressive.

It is broad and flat like an epiphyllum, but long and pendulous like a selenicereus. Definitely not hylocereus. Maybe rhipsalis – they can be flat and long and pendulous, but they’re not usually that broad. If only we had gotten close enough to see any evidence of flowering. Damn jungle.

Tubers

dioscorea

Oh my god, it’s a dioscorea! I think it may be the very same Dioscorea discolor that we carry at the nursery! But then, there are 24 species of dioscorea found in Costa Rica, and it is grown around the world for its edible yam-like tubers. Did I say yam-like? I meant yams. Anyway, D. discolor is a succulent caudiciform, so what are ya’ gonna do?

A Profusion of Protrusions

tillandsia_bloom

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.

Epiphytic Bromeliad

tillandsias3

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.

Wildlife in the Jungle

People ask us, did we see any wildlife in the rain forests of Costa Rica? Sure, plants, whatever, but animals? Monkeys?

scarlet_macaws

Here’s a nesting pair of Scarlet Macaws that were flying around above our heads for a while. Finally I caught them resting on a branch long enough.

Hanging Cactus

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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.

Nightblooming Cereus

hylocereus_costaricensis

Hylocereus costaricensis

This was the first hylocereus we saw in the jungle, the cactus in the jungle being quite epiphytic, high up in the trees. The jungle cactus I’m sure were denser up higher, but yet the cactus in the jungle didn’t quite form a cactus jungle at all.

Pitaya de Tortuga

selenicereus_testudo

Selenicereus testudo

Of course we were looking for jungle cactus among the rain forests of Costa Rica on our recent trip there, and we were not disappointed. It may not have been cactus bloom season, but it was interesting to find cactus in the parks where everyone else was looking up in the trees for monkeys. We would stop and look up and I would aim the camera up, and then others nearby would wonder what kind of monkeys we had sighted. Hah! No monkey, just cactus.

Anyway, my inability to absolutely, positively identify these specimens doesn’t stop me from affixing a label anyway.

A closeup after the break. Read More…

Jungle Cactus

epiphyllum_pittieri4

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.

Sapo

ipomoea-carnea

Ipomoea carnea

It’s a woody vine with spiny morning-glory flowers. Seems to grow throughout Central Americ. Impressive large flowers.

Join us after the break for a closeup. Read More…

Piperaceae

When we were clomping through some Costa Rican jungles, we saw lots of epiphytic peperomias up high in the branches. Here’s one just starting the climb on a fallen branch with tillandsias.

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Peperomia rotundifolia

That is one nifty peperomia they have there in the jungle.

Did I mention that the name peperomia is in fact from the same name as peppers (they sound alike, they are alike!), since they’re both in the same botanic family, Piperaceae, which is in fact called “the pepper family”? No? Well, let me tell you… It’s the genus Piper that yields the famous black peppercorns that created the spice wars and the piracy and the tales of buried treasures told through the ages, by elderly grandfathers trying to scare the little ones.

180px-pfeffer-gewurz

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) corns, from left to right: Green (pickled ripe fruits), White (dried ripe seeds), Black (dried unripe fruits)

However, just to be clear, this so-called “Pepper family” that includes black peppercorns and succulent peperomias does not include bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), for those would be in the Solanum family (Solanaceae) that includes the nightshades and the tomatoes and potatoes and our favorite, the purple-leafed naranjillo (Solanum quitoense) from Colombia.

Interesting where these blog entries can get to once you start deviating from plant that started it. I like it!

Another Jungle Cactus

epiphyllum_pittieri3

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?

Please Don't Step on the Begonias

begonia2

We found these little blooming Begonias hanging onto some concrete steps along a trail in Carrara NP in Costa Rica. We like the little wild begonias, although we sell more of the large frilly begonias. Same flowers, though; very little variation in size or shape.

In the Crook of a Tree

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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.

Jungle Cactus

epiphyllum_pittieri2

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

Another Epi from the Costa Rican Jungle at Manuel Antonio.

epiphyllum_pittieri

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.

Epiphytic Bromeliads

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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.

Cactus in the Jungle

Jungle Cactus in Costa Rica.

epiphyllum_costaricense1

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…

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

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.

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