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.

Mistletoe Cactus

rhipsalis_baccifera1

Rhipsalis baccifera

This is the most common rhipsalis in all of Central America. We only found a couple specimens in Costa Rica. It’s a pendulous epiphyte with cylindrical forking branches. I should copyright that sentence. It’s known as the mistletoe cactus because it gets covered in little white fruits. It likes moist lowland forests, not too moist.

They’re very successful grown in hanging baskets on your front porch, preferably getting an hour or two of morning sun.

Naranjilla

Back in Costa Rica, we were trundling along looking up in the trees for more jungle cacti, maybe an Epiphyllum or two, some lovely orchids in bloom and all, and then boom, what did we see?

solanum_quitoense

Solanum quitoense

I can’t be sure of the ID, but this fruiting plant in the nightshade family with broad fuzzy purple leaves is one of our favorites at the nursery. Technically it’s no succulent, of course, but it is drought tolerant and we’ve planted it alongside our turtle pond too.

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.

Orange and Yellow Orchid Blooms

We knew we would see lots of orchids up in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, epiphytic orchids of all types, and many of them in bloom. We didn’t know there would be so many ground orchids in the hotter and drier areas.

epidendrum_radicans

Epidendrum radicans is a fairly common orchid through Central America. This was near Arenal Volcano. Everyone visits the volcano. This is also extremely similar to the Epidendrum ibaguense, a hardy terrestrial orchid we are carrying at the nursery.

Orchid

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The photos from Costa Rica keep coming, and it turns out I shot a lot of orchids. Maybe I’ll stop doing these posts from our trip every day. Maybe only once a week? They’ll last all year if I do that. Fair warning.

Anyway, this cone of flowers was about a foot tall and I counted the tiny blooms and there were 3,026.

Orchids!

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

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

Pendant Cactus

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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.

Pink Orchid

Same type as yesterday, same volcanic area, different color. This one is pink with white ruffles, but then you knew that since you peeked at the photo before reading this text.

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They’re growing in very recent volcanic scree beds.

Just like they’ve got up in Alaska right now.  i wonder if that means they’ll be growing ground orchids this summer?

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.

peperomia_rotundifolia2

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.

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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!

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…

Please Don't Step on the Begonias

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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.

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.

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…

Saturday Morning Costa Rica Orchid Blogging

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We saw a lot of blooming orchids in Costa Rica last month. I have a few thousand more photos to share. Well, maybe not quite that many.

We’re still in the cloud forests of  Monteverde.

Sky

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Peperomia hernandiifolia in bloom, at dusk.

Swimming in a Tank

Did I mention that we like succulent peperomias?

peperomia_palmana2

Peperomia palmana

This small clumping peperomia has a wonderful crown of blooms, and is nicely nestled in a verdant moss pod on a jungle branch.

If you look really closely, those tiny blooms are white.

We found this specimen in a moist mountain forest, just like it likes it. They range from Costa Rica only as far as Panama.

Terrestrial Bloom

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It’s a Costa Rican Ground Orchid. It’s only like a 1/2″ across, so please don’t step on it, okay?

The Last Photo

It’s my last photo from Costa Rica.

That’s a good 3 months worth of photos from one short trip into the jungles and coastal regions and cloud forests and volcanic plateaus of one small Central American country.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. We saw a dozen cactus species, about 2 dozen orchids, a lot of peperomias and begonias, and more! Always more! Until today. No more.

Well, this is one last pretty orchid for us to enjoy.

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Trailside

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This is a really large terrestrial bromeliad we came upon in the Costa Rican jungle. About 10ft. across. I think this was near the Arenal volcano when we took a side trail to find a bombax that we never found. I wonder how long that outcropping will last.

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?

White Flowers High Up

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This orchid was way high up in the trees. I tried my best to use my superzoom lens, but without a tripod this is the best I was able to get. Not bad. But then the other shots were all way out of focus, so this was the only one that even came close.

Plus we were running from a pack of cotamundis at the same time.

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White Orchid

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These are scattered around the Arenal Volcano area, and they come in many colors.

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.

Wow! That's a Nice Orchid!

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Wow! That’s a nice orchid! So nice I had to say it twice.

I wish I knew enough about orchids to identify them. Oh well, maybe next year.

Yet Another Orchid

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Growing in volcanic scree at the base of Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

This one, as you can see, is pink. Not white, not red, not white and pink striped, but pink. I think we can definitely state that we saw a lot of variety of this orchid growing in the volcanic rock.

Do you think they’re different species? Different subspecies? Or just natural variation of flower color within the same species?

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