Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dendrobium Fulum, an "antilope" Dendrobium hybrid

I photographed this plant in the garden of Edna Hamilton of St. Croix.  The plant is remarkable, not only for the beauty of its flowers but also for its floriferousness, the two inflorescences come from a single cane.  I plan to acquire one of this orchid.  Hopefully I will as successful as Edna in getting this plant to produce lots of flowers.

Anolis evermanni Stejneger 1904, in the forest of Rio Abajo

Today I was cleaning the patio and decided to remove an accumulation of sticks and leaves that had developed under a clump of palm stems.  When I did this, I broke several tunnels that termites had made into the leaf litter mass.  As a result worker termites were exposed, as well as a few warriors.  This is not an unusual event so I continued cleaning.  Then I noticed that an Anolis evermanni was eating the worker termites.  Anolis evermanni are normally an even green color.  This one had an overlay of darer green bands.  I attribute this to the excitement caused by the presence of an abundance of prey.  Anolis evermanni has shown a breathtaking amount of behavioral flexibility in the laboratory.  From what I saw while taking the photos, this particular lizard regarded me as an annoyance, but also as essentially harmless.  That's why I could get so close to it.  These lizard see me daily as I do garden chores or just walk around.  This might explain the boldness of this one, or maybe it was very, very hungry.  Anolis only eat the workers, the warriors have dark pointy heads full of a distasteful toxic glue that the lizards seem to loathe.

Eria spicata [D.Don]Hand.-Mazz. 1836, bought for $5 at a Moca garden shop

I visited a garden shop in the town of Moca to see what bromeliads they had.  The owner, after hearing I liked orchids, showed me this plant.  At the time it didn't had any flowers so I was not sold on the idea of buying this plant.  But then he say he would sell it for 5 dollars.  The price was too cheap not to indulge in a bit of speculative buying.  This plant has been easy to culture under the envvironmental conditions of my garden, although it has not bloomed as abundantly as I would have expected given the many pseudobulbs it has produced since I brought it.  Still, this plant has been with me for only a year, maybe in the future it will be more generous with its flowers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A baby puertorican boa startles and delights

This baby Puertorican boa surprised, startled and delighted the personnel of the Puertorican Parrot project by spending the day wrapped around the rails of one of the paths in the aviary.  It was quite festy and would try to bite if someone got too close.  It provided me with a rare occasion to use my 100mm macro lens on an animal.  After I took a number of photos gently but firmly, I coaxed the snake to leave the rail and to move to the vegetation.  The little snake eventually slithered down the rail and moved away.  I did this at night fall so that it would not fall prey to daytime predators.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dendrobium pulchellum Roxb. 1832, a Dendrobium with a white beard

The lip of this Dendrobium is unique among my Dendrobium.  The front edge of the lip is covered in short white hair in a way that resembles a beard.  This the flowers are pink and the lip has two large purple spots near the base.

Anolis cristatellus, displaying its dewlap

Compared to most other lizards I see locally, this male Anolis cristatellus has been surprisingly bold.  Instead of running away up the tree or hiding on the opposite side of the trunk, this lizard has held its ground calmly but alertly.  It had allowed me to get very close to him.  On ocassion it has showed its dewlap, this is a territorial display in this species.  Today I was able to get images of the lizard showing its dewlap.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Anolis cristatellus cristatellus Duméril and Bibron, 1837, that just had been involved in a territorial fight

This adult male cristatellus was just involved in a territorial fight.  The snout shows damage and the lower mandible is slightly bloody.  These lizards engage in territorial fights with neighboring males.  Sometimes, when they fight, they make hissing noises.  The fights usually happen in branches or trunks of trees or bushes.  In those fights that I have witnessed the loser is the one that falls from the trun or branch.

Dendrobium harveyanum is ready for its close up.

The flowers of this Dendrobium are a bit over 1.25 inches/3 centimeters wide.  The fringed petals are a salient characteristic of this species.  This is a miniature, the tallest cane of any of my plants is just 7 inches/18 cm tall.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dendrobium hercoglossum Rchb. f. 1886, in a hand made wire basket

I got this plant as a small keiki.  The parent plant was a big specimen plant.   I made this wire basket five inches wide to accommodate the future growth of this orchid, which I expect will turn into a clump of stems.  The basket is only filled about halfway with media due to the exceedingly wet rainy season which means the plant can get all the water it needs from a comparatively small amount of media.  During the local dry season I only water this plant about once a month.

La reproduccion de los guppy

Los guppy son peces vivíparos que presentan dimorfismo sexual (técnicamente son ovovivíparos, pero esa explicacion es demasiado extensa para cubrir en este ensayo).  El macho es mas pequeño que la hembra y puede tener una amplia gama de colores, manchas y patrones de coloración.  Como las hembras retienen los óvulos en sus cuerpos la inseminación es interna.  Para transferir el esperma a la hembra los machos usan una aleta modificada conocida como gonopodio.  El gonopodio es visible en la zona ventral del pez de la foto sobre estas lineas.

Los machos cortejan a las hembras constantemente.  En la foto de arriba pueden ver a un macho demostrando sus colores frente a un grupo de tres hembras.  La variación en la orientación del cuerpo, de las aletas y el movimiento frente a las hembras son elementos  del pavoneo que el macho  hace durante el cortejo nupcial.

En la foto de arriba el macho extiende sus aletas y arquea el cuerpo frente a la hembra como parte del pavoneo que ocurre durante el cortejo.  Los machos cortejan a las hembras sin cesar.  Se ha observado que algunas hembras se mueven a áreas que los machos evitan debido a la presencia de depredadores para así poder forrajear sin el constante hostigamiento de los machos.

En la foto de arriba el macho esta expandiendo las aleta lo mas posible y a la vez arqueando el cuerpo.

La inseminación en si es muy breve, en la foto podemos ver al macho acercándose a la hembra por detrás para inseminarla.  Justo debajo de la cola de la hembra se puede ver el gonopodio, el cual el macho ha rotado de posicion y ahora apunta hacia el frente.  El macho transfiere a la hembra paquetes de esperma que la misma almacena en su cuerpo.  Las hembras pueden retener la esperma del macho hasta por ocho meses.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dendrobium harveyanum in a handmade wire basket

When I got my plant of Dendrobium harveyanum it was a tiny seedling with canes barely two inches tall.  My main concern was that it would lose its roots to rot during the height of the rainy season, when it can rain every day for weeks or months.  On the other hand, during the dry season, not a drop falls from the sky for weeks and humidity can be low.  I decided to make a wire basket that would address the needs of the plant during both extremes of weather.   I made a wire basket four inches deep and four inches wide, for a miniature orchid, such as this Dendrobium, this is plenty of space to grow for years.  I filled the bottom two inches of the basket with bark,  then I put the plant on top of it.  The wire basket ensures that even at the wettest of the wet season the water drains away and the roots have access to oxygen.  In the driest part of the dry season I dunk the plant in water and the bark holds up just enough water to keep the orchid from shriveling too much.  This plant has been in this basket for eight years now and it seems it is good for at least two or three more.  When the canes reach the wall of the basket I will cut a hole in the basket to let the plant grow in the outside of the basket.  This plant has two inflorescences, one that is open and another on the way.  The tallest cane is seven inches tall, a pretty good size for this species.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Dendrobium amethystoglossum lost its roots, so I did this...

Please note that I made slits on the side of the plastic pot to increase
both drainage and the circulation of air around the media and roots.

This Dendrobium amethystoglossum grew relatively well for several years in my garden and bloomed a number of times in that time span.  Unfortunately, last year the media began retaining too much water, this caused the death of the root mass.  When I noticed something was wrong almost all the roots were gone.  So I took the plant from its pot, trimmed away the dead roots, removed the decayed media from the meagre remains of the root ball and repoted it.   I used as media the hardest part of the trunk of the tree fern.  I cut the pieces of tree fern by hand into medium sized flakes.  The flakes were put on the pot so that they would make a relatively loose open mass that could be easily penetrated by the roots.  This part of the trunk of the tree fern is particularly resistant to decay so I expect it will last a while.  The orchid started growing in April and now it is producing new roots.  I expect that in the next two years it will have a good root system and will start producing larger canes.

Dos gupi endler machos, el multicolor hijo del blanco

A finales del 2013, en una reunión de la asociación de acuaristas de Aguadilla, me regalaron el gupi endler de la foto superior, junto con una hembra y una cría.  Me gusto mucho el pez por su color casi blanco y sin una sola mancha o raya, algo que nunca había visto en un endler, los cuales se caracterizan por tener manchas y rayas de diversos colores por el cuerpo.  Los peces se adaptaron muy bien a mis peceras, pero para mi sorpresa el primer macho en desarrollar color no se parece en lo mas mínimo al macho original.  Aislare una hembra para eventualmente aparearla con el macho blanco a ver si los hijos heredan el color del padre.  Si, se que los gupi hembras pueden guardar la esperma de varios machos por mucho tiempo.  Así que este proyecto puede que tome algunos meses en proceder ya que tengo que asegurarme que los hijos sean del macho blanco y no de otro de los machos.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

El mexcalpique de cola roja Xenotoca eiseni no tiene gonopodio, tiene un andropodio

Los peces del genero Xenotoca no tienen un gonopodio para transferir la esperma al cuerpo de la hembra.  El gonopodio es una aleta especializada de algunos peces viviparos, como los gupies y los molies.  En su lugar el Xenotoca macho tiene un andropodio, esta es una aleta dividida que usa en la transferencia de esperma.  El macho hace movimientos de cortejo y pavoneo frente a la hembra antes de la inseminacion.  Los peces en las fotos son adultos jovenes.

Encyclia Renate Schmidt (Ency. Orchid Jungle x Enc. alata)

It is almost a miracle that this orchid survived and grew large enough to bloom.  I brought it as a small seedling from Kawamoto orchids around eight years ago.  Unfortunately this plant went through a streak of unremitting bad luck.  At first it grew vigorously but then its media stayed too wet and it lost its roots, this was a severe set back for the orchid.  Then it had to slowly rebuild its root system, when it was on its way to recovery it was attacked by brown scales.  I removed every single scale and treated the plant with insecticide, but the scales proved to be an stubborn foe.  Finally, last year things started looking up for this plant and it produced its largest pseudobulb to date, which by normal Encyclia standards is of a mediocre size, but nevertheless it was pleasing to see the plant do some progress.  The plant produced just three flowers, this is the first to open, certainly not an impressive performance, but hey, it's a start!

Encyclia Gail Nakagaki (Enc. cordigera x Enc. alata)

A few years ago I was visiting a friend in the town of Aguadilla and he had a large plant of this cross in full bloom.  The orchid had many flowers and their fragrance was both strong and delightful.  I was enchanted with this orchid but unfortunately it turned out not to be easily available.  But this year I found a source and brought two plants.  Amazingly the flowers of this orchid survived the trip from Hawaii almost intact.  I like the color of these flowers, but it is the fragrance that really seduced me.  The plants I got are young, they have the potential to produce many flowers at the same time.  Hopefully I will be able to help these plants achieve the impressive size of my friend's orchid.

Encyclia Summer Stars (Encyclia Orchid Jungle x Encyclia nematocaulon)

I brought this orchid last month in an agricultural festival that took place in the old sugar mill called Coloso in Aguada, Puerto Rico.  I was surprised to see an Encyclia among the Phalaenopsis, Cattleya and Dendrobium that are the standard fare at such activities.  The orchid had several inflorescences and this is one of the first flowers to open.  It was labeled as the clone 'Jungle Nights' but the flowers of my plant are different, smaller and not as well proportioned.  It remains to be seen if this is caused by cultural factors. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Xenotoca eiseni, Mexcalpique de cola roja


Macho inseminando a la hembra

Macho junto a un gupi Ender sub adulto
Adquirí  una pareja de estos pececillos hace unos cuatro años atrás en diciembre del 2010.  Este pez es originario de México, es un miembro de la familia de peces vivíparos conocida como Goodeidae.   Estos peces, hasta donde sé, no son producidos en masa de forma comercial, sino más bien por aficionados especializados que mantienen pequeñas poblaciones en cautiverio.   La pareja fue colocada en una pecera de 10 galones sembrada de Elodea y algas filamentosas.  Eran aun peces jóvenes y por un tiempo no vi crías, aunque es probable que las estuvieran produciendo y las canibalizaran ya que la pecera no ofrecía refugios seguros para peces recién nacidos.  Eventualmente moví a la pareja a una pecera de treinta galones larga donde ahora vive un grupo de sus descendientes.   Los Xenotoca comparten esta pecera con un grupo de cíclidos, Amatatlilia siquia producto del primer desove de esa especie en mis peceras.  Todos los siquia de tamaño normal los regale, pero me quede con los que se quedaron enanos porque los encuentro bonitos y no tienen la desagradable tendencia a reproducirse todo el tiempo, todos conocemos los problemas que causan los cíclidos cuando en una comunidad de peces cuando están en reproducción.  Estos enanititos comparten la pecera con los Xenotoca en completa armonía, no he visto ni agresión ni una sola aleta rota desde que están juntos.

Tengo a mis peces en agua de lluvia, aun cuando la recomendación es que el agua “dura” es mejor para ellos.  La razón es que el agua local tiene una buena cantidad de carbonato de calcio el cual se deposita en el cristal de la pecera eventualmente opacando hasta cierto punto la transparencia del cristal.  Los minerales en el agua local también forman una molesta y desagradable costra en el cristal a la altura de la superficie del agua, la cual hay que remover constantemente usando una navaja.  Los Xenotoca no parecen sufrir en forma alguna por estar en agua “suave”.

Los peces toleran las variaciones de temperatura local del bosque de Rio Abajo sin dificultad.  Aun en las mañanas más frías, cuando la temperatura del agua está cerca de los 65° F no he notado cambios en su comportamiento.  La temperatura local en su punto más alto en el verano llega a cerca de los 84° F, lo cual tampoco parece afectar a los peces de forma alguna.  

Alimento los peces con comida seca en hojuelas, que macero un poco antes de dársela ya que las bocas de estos peces son relativamente pequeñas en comparación con las hojuelas.  Les doy una pequeña cantidad de comida todos los días.  Una o dos veces a la semana les doy pedacitos de camarón que he rallado en un guayo hasta que se producen partículas que los pececillos puedan ingerir fácilmente.  Los peces también comen del alga filamentosa que crece en abundancia en la pecera, sobre los cristales y sobre los tallos y hojas de la Elodea.  Según he leído, aunque estos peces son omnívoros, necesitan consumir cierta cantidad de algas en su dieta para mantener una buena salud¹.  Infrecuentemente les doy larvas de mosquito y “bloodworms”, usualmente cuando las encuentro en algún envase que ha acumulado agua inadvertidamente.  Las larvas de insectos son consumidas con voracidad y rapidez.

Estos peces pueden llegar a las dos pulgadas y media de largo.  En mis peceras los machos desarrollan color desde relativamente pequeños pero tardan tiempo en alcanzar el tamaño adulto.  Son peces rechonchos, pero a la vez muy agiles y activos.    No son peces tímidos y responden con rapidez y entusiasmo cuando se les alimenta.   Las crías son relativamente grandes al nacer.  Nunca he hecho un esfuerzo por salvar las crías, con los que sobreviven en la vegetación basta con mantener la población estable.
El comportamiento de estos peces no es particularmente complejo. Su patrón de comportamiento principal es la búsqueda de alimento.  Cuando me acerco a la pecera su respuesta inicial es  esconderse en la vegetación, pero en cuestión de unos pocos segundos salen a ver si les he traído algo de comer.   Los machos cortejan a las hembras a las hembras con una danza temblorosa que hacen frente a ellas.  Para mi sorpresa pude observar a una hembra que estaba siendo cortejada por un macho subadulto responder con movimientos de lado a lado que más bien parecían de agresión.  No quisiera dar a estos comportamientos una interpretación antropomórfica, pero la impresión que recibí fue que la hembra le decía al macho “¡déjame quieta ya!”.

Los peces en las fotos son subadultos que aún no han alcanzado su tamaño adulto.  Los adultos son significativamente más grandes.  Estos peces pueden vivir por varios años si se les cuida bien.  Su biología reproductiva es fascinante ya que no son ovovivíparos,  sino verdaderos vivíparos que alimentan a sus crías en la gestacion por medio de estructuras especializadas.    No recomiendo que se tenga a estos peces con peces delicados, tímidos o de aletas largas.   

¹Schliewen Urich. 1992. Aquarium Fish.  Barron’s

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dendrobium Nestor, (Den, anosmum x Den, parishii)

I got this plant about twenty years ago.  Back then Den. Nestor was something of a rarity.  This plant has an interesting combination of traits of its parents.  The soft color is similar to the most common forms of Den. anosmum.  The lip is very hairy, a characteristic of the lip of Den. parishii.  Den. Nestor has been remade many times with different parents.  The forms that seem to be most popular nowadays are deeply colored and have a shape that is reminiscent of the Den. anosmum parent.  I have seen plants of Den. Nestor being sold as Den. anosmum.  If the plants are inmature it is not that easy to tell apart the hybrid from the species.  However you can tell adult plants of anosmum from the hybrid due to thecomparatively larges size and flowers of anosmum.

Dendrobium anosmum

Dendrobium parishii