Monday, 26 May 2014

Sodom's Apple

I love this photo.
I took it myself.
In the desert.

Thank you, Lizz, for helping me to identify it!

And also thank you for the fossils that you picked up for me, providing us with "Lunch!"

I will walk with you to the edge of the world.

One step closer

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Everything is connected

Forbidden Fruits of the Desert

Can you find the connection?

Aren't these Monarch caterpilars the coolest thing ever?

I picked up this pod on my first desert walk in November last year.   It was as light as a feather.   Riyadh had just had the first rains in many months.   The wadi was green with new growth, and  the air was clean and fresh.   The light was just perfect.

When fishes flew... The Arabian Desert was once ocean 
 Signs of running water


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Waiting for the bus

                    Jasminum Sambac  aka   Grand Duke of Tuscany   aka  Arabian Jasmine

                                                           Tea Jasmine       Rose Jasmine

  • 'Grand Duke of Tuscany' - possesses flowers with doubled petals. They resemble small white roses and are less fragrant than the other varieties. It is also known as 'Rose jasmine'.   In the Philippines, it is known as kampupot.

In China, the flower is processed and used as the main ingredient in jasmine tea (茉莉花茶)

Pakistan, India and Middle East

It is one of the most commonly grown ornamentals in PakistanIndia and Bangladesh, where it is native.[23][15] They are used to make thick garlands used as hair adornments. In Oman,Jasminum sambac features prominently on a child's first birthday. Flowers are sprinkled on the child's head by other children while chanting "hol hol". The fragrant flowers are also sold packed in between large leaves of the Indian almond (Terminalia catappa) and sewn together with strips of date palm leaves.[20]

Tonight there was only one bus, instead of two.
No choice.
You go to Granada Mall.

We had a storm! dust, wind, thunder, and rain.
I sat waiting for the bus in the balmy, sandy, post-storm air.
I picked the white flower and held it to my nose all the way to Grrrrrnada.
It reminded me of green apples, jasmine tea and "my" white garden in Taiwan.

Tomorrow I will take a better photo.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Beach days

It's warm, dry and sunny!
Perfect beach weather.

I don't miss the humid summers of Hong Kong.

Soon I will go to George where it will be cold and wet.

But for today, we have summer.

The Golden Chain Tree.

Beware, it is poisonous.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Painted ladies

I googled "Painted Ladies" to get some more butterfly pictures...

Was not prepared for what I found!

Besides the obvious ladies that are painted,

I found my favourite houses!

Somehow wine crept into the picture

But, I digress.   Let me get back to the painted ladies.

Painted lady on white flowers

These butterflies visited our campus for a few days:

Holy trees

On my way home this afternoon, I noticed the Painted Lady butterflies have left and their Lantana host shrubs  are now covered in white fluff with brown seed pods.   I veered to the left, aiming for the shady side of the mosque, no pun intended.   The sun is now quite hot and I shielded my face with my headscarf.   Through the black haze, I suddenly noticed patches of yellow against the bright blue sky.   Unceremoniously, I dropped  my handbag, took out my phone, and starting shooting!

The boeing overhead was my sign to go home.   It only took about 5 minutes, but when I got inside my flat, my face was burnt.    This sun is not to be taken lightly, I gathered...

I waited until it was much later and cooler, then went back to pick some flowers & leaves for identification.

The Divine Tree

Indian Tulip Tree (Thespesia Populnea/भेंडी, पारस-पिंपळ) is a marvellous tree which is considered sacred in many countries. It is planted near temples & churches. Its name is derived from a Greek word thespesios which means 'divine'.

The beautiful tree has glossy green, heart-shaped leaves & yellow hibiscus-type flowers which bloom year round. It is interesting to know that these yellow flowers turn dark red, purple or pink as the day progresses. Thus the flower lasts for couple of days. In Tamil, the tree is known as Poovarasu which means 'King of Flowers'..apt name for such a lovely tree! The tree establishes well & grows rapidly. Its branches are closely set & form a dense crown, hence it is also known as Umbrella  tree.

Instead of being only a very good ornamental tree, it has a wide range of uses too! And these vary from use in dune stabilization or for medicine to the use as organic mulch. It is a tough tree which can survive the poor drainage & hot, dry conditions common to urban areas.

Indian Tulip Tree is an excellent species for coastal protection as it tolerates droughty sandy soils, brackish water, occasional water-logging, wind & salt spray. It also provides abundant leaf litter for use as mulch in sandy, coastal sites. The tree firmly anchors sandy soils & protects them from erosion. Hence being a soil improver & stabilizer and a excellent windbreak, it is also used as living fences.

Its bark produces a strong fibre which is used for ropes, cordage, fishing lines, coffee bags etc. The flowers & its capsule are said to give a yellow dye & the bark produces tannin.

Indian Tulip has been used in many ways in traditional medicines in India. According to Ayurveda, Indian Tulip is astringent, acrid, cooling and is shown to be useful in skin related troubles, leprosy, diseases of blood & urinary system, diarrhoea, dysentry, cholera, diabetes, ascites etc.

Indian Tulip is a relatively easy tree to grow. It propagates easily from seed or from cuttings.

The Indian Tulip is occasionally confused with Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus Tiliaceus/बेलिपता) due to similar heart-shaped leaves, yellow flowers. Both these trees are, interestingly & shockingly, more or less similar in their uses also. Of course, there are differences in medical properties. But for other aspects, both of the trees can be called as replica of one another.

Sea Hibiscus tree is reputed to be a good forage plant for bees & the time to first flowering is typically 2–3 years of age. Sea Hibiscus has a noted ability to improve soil in organic matter & fertility, most likely through leaf drop & decomposition, which occurs at a moderately fast rate.

The desert is full of surprises!

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