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Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

September 29th, 2012

It’s autumn and with the cooler temperatures some of the plants out in my pond are going to flower. The most striking one is a field of Pogostemon yatabeanus that I have out there.

Pogostemon yatabeanus with Inflorescence

This Asian native has grown wonderfully all summer for me, but has started producing terminal flower spikes on most of the stems.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flower Spike

The spikes themselves are quite pubescent (hairy), and are made up of hundreds of individual flower buds.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Buds

Up close, the flower buds look more like an insect than a flower, but you can see that they gradually begin to open up, with each bud producing a viable flower.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Buds

The flowers themselves are a brilliant purple and very feathery. Each flower has a single stamen protruding outward.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence

The immature flower doesn’t appear to have pollen (below), but over a day or two each stamen is filled with it.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

In this 5X magnification (below), you can see the tiny pollen particles clustered on the stamen. I’m not sure if a single flower spike can fertilize itself, or whether multiple plants are required.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Flowers

Eventually, the individual flowers detach from the spike, with the wind carrying them away.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence

Below is a close-up of what’s left once a flower detaches.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Inflorescence Bare Spot

Eventually, all that’s left is a bare terminal spike that looks similar to how it all started.

Pogostemon yatabeanus Fading Inflorescence

I really love seeing how our aquarium plants grow and flower outside of the aquarium. Submersed, Pogostemon yatabeanus has growth that’s similar to its terrestrial form, but it’s more delicate with narrower leaves.

Pogostemon yatabeanus

By trimming more frequently, you can encourage the plant to produce smaller leaves, which is really necessary for most aquascapes. It also has a unique feature of sometimes sending out creeping runners that then popup new stems a few inches away. Overall, it’s a great aquarium plant, and it converts pretty easily from emersed form.




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Reservoir Visit

September 25th, 2012

This weekend, we took our dogs to a reservoir near us that we’ve visited several times in the past. It was a perfect fall day, with a nice breeze, pleasant temperature, and flowers blooming.

Brown's Bridge Reservoir

The most striking flower was a Bidens species that was just coming into bloom, with the sunny areas full of yellow inflorescences, while shaded areas were a few days from blooming.

Bidens sp.

In terms of aquatic plants, there was an abundance of Lindernia dubia, with its’ delicate purple flowers protruding from the stem.

Lindernia dubia

Mixed in with the L. dubia, was a fair amount of Rotala ramosior, which was present in strong numbers, but maybe not quite as abundant as last year. It’s tooth-cup shaped flowers were hung tight to each node.

Rotala ramosior

Our dogs enjoyed chasing the geese, which were really never in any danger as the geese smartly took flight several hundred yards before the dogs ever reached them.

Geese in Flight

The water was fairly low, exposing some great rock formations and river banks. Fall is a great time of year to visit this area!

Trees at River Bank

Finally, our dogs ran wild, trampling underfoot thousands of perfectly good aquatic plants, and making a great outing for us!

Bella Dog

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Freezing Malabar Spinach

September 24th, 2012

The garden is winding down, with night-time temperatures inching toward the high forties, so I decided to start processing some of the Malabar Spinach that’s growing in several beds. Malabar spinach is a wonderful vining spinach (it’s not really in the spinach family) from India that’s used just like regular spinach. It’s a little bit thicker and has more cellular slime, so it’s best in soups and stir fries than as a fresh garden salad.

Malabar Spinach - Before Blanching

Before

This morning I picked roughly 16oz of spinach from the vines, pulled the tough rib from the larger leaves, and started a pot of water to boil for blanching. Above you can see that I had one large pile of leaves spanning about two of my cutting boards across and piled high.

Malabar Spinach - After Blanching

After

After blanching, all of that reduced down to a small pile of green mush. I cut the pile in half, and froze in two 8oz packages. The whole process took about 15 minutes, and I’ll be able to continue using this year’s garden harvest into the winter!

 

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