Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mertensia virginica

Mertensia virginica, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

aka Virginia Bluebells. When we moved to our current house, there were a few of these plants growing in the front garden. Each spring I've collected seed and spread them around the garden so that now I have a literal prairie of these beautiful spring plants in my yard. I'm so lucky!

Friday, April 29, 2011

So cute!

So cute!, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Of the thousands of visitors who came to see Woody, OSU's first Titan Arum to bloom, I got the biggest kick out of the kids who were fascinated by it. The sheer size, odor, and uniqueness of a Titan Arum is a delight to kids who are dwarfed by it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Up against a brick wall

Up against a brick wall, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

"The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough." - Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Central Ohio Woodturners meeting, April 12, 2011

Walt Betley, my neighbor across the street, is the turner who first encouraged me to try my hand at woodturning.  He's going to be 90 in just a few months and is still actively turning.  Mostly he is doing small projects these days (e.g., pen turning).

He was to do a demonstration for the February 2011 meeting of the Central Ohio Woodturners, but Mother Nature decided to dump a bunch of snow on Columbus that day and so the meeting was canceled.  He was rescheduled for this month.

I've had a really difficult time getting to the club meetings this past year.  Mostly that is because I have band practice that night with Aisling, the Irish band I've been in since 1997.  However, I made sure that I was able to make it to the meeting for Walt's demonstration. 

Walt always seems to have a great time at the club meetings.  I'm not sure what he was laughing about here, but it must have been good.

Walt took a few minutes during the business meeting to pitch a project in support of our troops overseas. 

During the break between the business meeting and the main program, everyone takes a look at the show and tell tables.

This month there was also a President's challenge on turning eggs.  There were some interesting ideas presented.

Some of the show and tell session is informal; just a few people taking a close look at a project.

Walt's topic for his demo was inside-out turning.  He did some explaining before he started the evening's project.

He had a few finished pieces and some works in various stages to show the layout, the use of a story board, and his process of measuring.

There was a pretty good crowd gathered to watch the demo.

There were also a lot of questions from the group.

One of the most important tools for this kind of spindle turning is a good caliper.

We use a LCD projector to show the action so that everyone can see what's going on.

Standing room only.

While Walt was doing the main demo, there was a beginner's corner demonstration on methods of sharpening.

We're using a couple of technical labs over in the Ag-Engineering building.  They are well-equipped and I bet the students who work there enjoy that environment.

 Close-up of one of the tools Walt uses.

Working the camera angles.

OK - now it's time to do the turning.

More Q & A

The fun thing about inverse turning is that you have to be able to visualize what the final product will be as you are doing the turning.  The blank is four square pieces glued at the ends.  The design turned on the exterior surface ends up being a silhouette on the interior surface.

After the turning demo, Walt passed around some completed projects and the demo piece.  It was an interesting demo, and I enjoyed watching Walt turn.

Titan Arum leaf

Titan Arum leaf, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

The biology of the Titan Arum is fascinating. It has an underground storage organ (a corm) that can weigh up to 200 pounds. The corm needs to be at least 35 pounds before the plant has enough stored energy to produce an inflorescence.

This is the leaf of a Titan Arum. The plant produces a single leaf, which resembles a small tree. This leaf is about 12 ft tall and 15 feet across.

After a period of dormancy, the corm sprouts. The initial bud of a leaf and a flower are very similar, so it's a matter of waiting to see what happens each year. This plant may be coming into flower next year, given the size of the corm last fall when it entered dormancy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Inside the spathe

Inside the spathe, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Ohio State University currently has a Titan Arum in bloom. It opened Saturday evening, April 23, 2011. This is a view of the female flowers at the base of the spadix.

To see a time lapse video of the inflorescence blooming check out these links:


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Time Lapse video of the OSU Titan Arum flowering

Amorphophallus titanum (Araceae)

Woody, the OSU Titan Arum is now open and ready for visitors. Stop by the Biological Sciences Greenhouse on the Ohio State University Campus on Sunday, April 24, 2011 from 1 - 9 p.m. to see this magnificent plant in bloom.

The OSU Biological Sciences greenhouse is accessed via the elevator tower. The entrance is between Aronoff Lab and Parking Garage K. Parking is available in the Neil Avenue Parking Garage.

The plant will be in bloom Sunday and Monday only. This rare plant is definitely worth seeing (and smelling). The common name is Corpse Flower - and it is aptly named.

I photographed the entire sequence of blooming this evening over the course of 6.5 hours. Photos are posted here:

Woody, the OSU Titan Arum's Facebook Page

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Yesterday Steve and I walked the neighborhood, cameras at the ready. There are so many trees in bloom, including the Weeping Cherries that are so common around here. I think we're going to buy one of these trees to plant in the back yard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blue cranes

Blue cranes, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

The national bird of South Africa is the blue crane. All during the drive from Cape Town to Sedgefield, I had been trying to get a photo of a blue crane. I sure didn't have success during that leg of the trip, but on the way to Arniston Beach, I was able to get a decent photo of a cooperative pair.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Sunset over the Indian Ocean, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

The sunsets in South Africa tend to be pretty spectacular, especially when there is an ocean involved. This was seen from the property of my good friends John and Jane Wessels who live on the south coastline.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Awakening, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This is one of the Viriginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) growing in my yard. I took the photo April 9, but now the plants are in full bloom. I need to find time to take a photo when the rain lets up. We've had some tremendous thunderstorms today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Basking in the sun

Basking in the sun, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Back to South Africa for this morning's blog post. These are Cape Bulbuls, photographed in the early morning at the home of John and Jane Wessels; east of Wilderness. The bright white eye ring is so comical looking.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Penstemon debilis

Penstemon debilis, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Another image from the archives. Penstemon debilis is a rare plant from the oil shales of Colorado. It is found in only half a dozen populations on the slopes of the mountains in a small area of Colorado that has part of the Green River formation - a rock type that includes oil shales.

I photographed this in the late 1990's, whilst starting a genetic diversity study of this rare species in collaboration with some ecologists from Utah who were working on the reproductive ecology of the plant. This is an image from a slide scan.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Penstemon albomarginatus

Penstemon albomarginatus.CA, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

One from the archives today. Two of the undergraduate students in my lab are finishing a genetic diversity study on this species right now and will be presenting results at the end of the month and the middle of May.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shaggy Dog

shaggy dog, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This large dog was encountered during a winter walk with Steve on the OSU campus. I got such a kick out of all the frozen snow stuck on the hairs around his mouth. He spent most of his time with his nose to the snow, but looked up long enough for me to snap a pic.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Daffodil, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Macro shot of the corona of one of the varieties of Daffodil currently blooming in my yard.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring is finally sprung

Spring is finally sprung, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

The daffodils are finally blooming in my yard. I have several varieties that I purchased at Keuchenhof Botanical Garden (Nederlands) several years ago. I really am glad to have these reminders of that lovely place.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Satyrium, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

These orchids are everywhere in South Africa. This particular one was growing in an old dune field that was urbanized with big houses near Sedgefield.

Monday, April 11, 2011

African Shoveler

African Shoveler, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Seen in South Africa, near Sedgefield. I love the iridescent blue and purple flowers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

African Spoonbill

African Spoonbill, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

There's just something really cool about spoonbills. They're so unusual looking. This one is from Sedgefield, South Africa.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This butterfly is gorgeous. Wouldn't it be nice to have this beauty as the OSU mascot, even if for just a day? Not that I'm against having the fruit of a species of Aesculus as the mascot, but the guy walking around with a head 10X normal, and in the shape of a buckeye, is kind of disconcerting sometimes. No offense, Brutus, but you do look very goofy.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Fringe Tree

Fringe Tree, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Chionanthus virginicus (Oleaceae) - a wispy tree in the Olive family, which has a beautiful display of fairy flowers in the early spring. It's native to the southern states of the USA.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Banded Orange Butterfly

Banded Orange Butterfly, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Seen in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit at Florida Museum of Natural History.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Hyobanche robusta

12 October 2010

Hyobanche robusta, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.
One of my last collections from the 2010 field season in South Africa: Hyobanche robusta (Orobanchaceae).

This site was in an urban area near Wilderness, South Africa. A housing development was in an old dune field, and the population was roadside in a housing development.

This is definitely an atypical field site for me for collecting species of Hyobanche. It's somewhat encouraging, though, that any species of Hyobanche can survive in this type of disturbance to its habitat.

The population was in full bloom, and it was pretty large for this kind of site - more than a dozen plants in bloom along the road, up in the shrub zone that lines the sides of the road below the houses.

I don't usually see H. robusta in such prime condition and so I was interested in seeing the size and shape of the stigma.

I think all of the species of Hyobanche are beautiful, but the sheer size and audacity of this species is especially charming.

It's also very photogenic.

The canopy was much more open than what I've seen in a typical dune habitat, although the site where it was growing on Scaevola was totally open.

The added challenge for this site was the concrete slag that was dumped on the hillside, surrounding the plants I wanted to excavate. Bring out the pickaxe! I got a workout for this collection.

After much effort in breaking through concrete, I found a mat of roots growing around the rhizome. Some of these had been tapped by H. robusta.

Ah, yes - the vouchers are safely bagged and awaiting the plant press.