Water Lily

The water lily, whose scientific name is Nymphaeaceae, is one of the world’s most beautiful and recognizable plants. The water lily is the glorious floral topping to the usually frog-laden lily pad. There are two main categories of water lilies: hardy and tropical. The hardy water lily will flower and bloom only in the daylight. The tropical variety will bloom during any time of the day or night.

Though water lilies look as if they are sprouting from the water, they are actually floating on top of the water with their roots tethered deep into the water-logged soil at the bottom of the lake or pond.

Water Lily flowers are wonderfully showy and fragrant, lasting only a few days. Some open during the day and close at night, others the opposite. Most are pollinated by beetles.

The white water lily is a perennial plant that often form dense colonies. The leaves arise on flexible stalks from large thick rhizomes. The leaves are more round than heart-shaped, bright green, 6 to 12 inches in diameter with the slit about 1/3 the length of the leaf. Leaves usually float on the water’s surface. Flowers arise on separate stalks, have brilliant white petals (25 or more per flower) with yellow centers. The flowers may float or stick above the water and each opens in the morning and closes in the afternoon. The flowers are very fragrant. White water lily can spread from seeds or the rhizomes.

 

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc). After aquatic plants die, their decompostion by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Deer, beaver, muskrat, nutria and other rodents will consume the leaves and rhizomes of white water lily, while the seeds are eaten by ducks.

 

The Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphae odorata) has a unique pollination strategy. On the first day that the flower blooms, its pollen is not yet released, and instead, a fluid fills the centre of the flower, covering the female parts.

 

Should an insect visit the flower, the design of the petals causes it to fall into the fluid. If the insect is covered in pollen, the pollen dissolves in the fluid and fertilises the flower. The next day, no fluid is produced, and pollen is released instead. The insect that falls into the fluid usually emerges unharmed, although a few unlucky ones may be trapped and drown.

 

A few days after the Water Lily flower is pollinated, the flower stem tightens in a spiralling spring to bring the flower head underwater. The fruit develops underwater into a spongy berry with many seeds that are enclosed in arils. When ripe, up to 2,000 seeds are released from each fruit. Young seeds float as they contain air pockets. They are then dispersed by water currents or by water birds that eat them. As they become waterlogged, they sink into the mud to germinate. The plant also spreads by sprouting from the creeping rhizomes.

 

The flat round leaves have a waxy water-repellent upper side. The underside, however, seems to cling to the water by surface tension. Some Water Lilies leaves are purple underneath, the pigments helping to concentrate the sunlight to maximise photosynthesis. The leaf stem is hollow and transports air from the surface to the underwater rhizomes which can grow to a massive size. Water Lilies grow best in calm freshwater.

 

Uses: The American Indians made flour out of dried roots by pounding them. The flour was then baked into pancakes. The young leaves and flower buds were eaten as vegetables, seeds eaten fried.

 

Traditional medicinal uses: American Indians used the plant to treat many ailments. Mashed green roots were used as poultice for swollen limbs; the roots for problems of the womb, digestive problems, a rinse for mouth sores; leaves and flowers as cooling compresses.

 

Role in the habitat: The Water Lily’s leaves shade the water keeping it cool and thus allowing for more dissolved oxygen. The plant also provides hiding places for small aquatic creatures, which in turn attract predators such as Bitterns (see right). But in places where it has been introduced, the Water Lily can become a weed and blocking out sunlight and oxygen from the water and displacing local aquatic plants.

 

http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/plants/water_lily.htm

 

 

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Lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera)

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the monogeneric family Nelumbonaceae. The Linnaean binomial Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is the currently recognized name for this species, which has been classified under the former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.) and Nymphaea nelumbo, among others. Names other than Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) are obsolete synonyms and should not be used in current works. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.

A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a waterlily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant as can be seen from the center of the flower, which clearly lacks the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera.

Native to Tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia, it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. The white and pink lotuses are national flowers of India and Vietnam, respectively.

[wikipedia]

The spiritual qualities of the lotus flower has found its way into Egyptian legends, Indian culture, and even Western faith. This is not surprising as the lotus flower is a potent symbol that grows strong and beautiful from the murkiest depths. Not to be mistaken with the water lily, lotus flowers bear fruit, but produce less nectar and come in fewer colors. The roots of the lotus are deeply imbedded into the bottom of river beds or ponds, while the flowers and leaves float atop the surface of the water. This plant is also thought to be one of only a few heat producing plants, and generally maintains a temperature around 86 to 95 degrees so as to lure cold blooded pollinators.

The lotus is the national flower of both Vietnam and India. In India the lotus flower has made its way deep into religious beliefs and in national folklore. The lotus is one of the eight auspicious symbols and is considered to be a symbol for the progress of the soul through muddy materialism, all the way to bright and sunny enlightenment. In esoteric Buddhist teachings, the unopened flower is thought to be like the heart of man – blossoming only when touched by the virtues of Buddha. In Egypt the lotus can be seen in a variety of art, hieroglyphics and as general decoration. One of the legends that can be found in this area is of a giant lotus rising from watery chaos and causing the sun to rise on the first day of creation. In Christianity, the white lotus is thought to be a representation of the purity of the Virgin Mary. Aside from having a great religious and mythological significance, the lotus can also be consumed. The rhizomes can be roasted, curried, pickled or dried and used as a thickening powder. The seeds can be candied, roasted or eaten raw; the flower and stalks, on the other hand, can be prepared in any way that a regular leafy vegetable might be eaten.

Lotus flowers are full of deep meaning, beautiful and long lasting, and thus, make great gifts. Many people like to give them as wedding presents as they are one of the few flowers that bloom and produce fruit simultaneously. This is thought to be a good omen for a newly married couple, as it not only represents a continuation of the growth of their relationship, but also a growth in their family. These flowers can be given alone, or as part of bouquet. If you are giving them as a gift to someone who lives in a warm climate, has access to a garden pond and simply loves to grow things, you might also want to consider giving them either a pre-grown plant, or even a few fresh seeds.

http://flowerinfo.org/lotus-flowers

Speckle-eyed Drone Hoverfly

Hoverflies, sometimes called flower flies or syrphid flies, make up the insect family Syrphidae. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, the larvae are saprotrophs, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.

Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide every year; because of this, aphidophagous hoverflies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators.

About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Hoverflies are harmless to most other animals despite their mimicry of more dangerous wasps and bees, which serves to ward off predators.

Daisy

Daisy is a sunlike flower appearance which has ray flowers (commonly called petals) surround a golden center of tiny disk flowers, an arrangement typical of the composite family. Daisy is the second largest family of flowering plants, in terms of number of species. Its plants make up nearly ten percent of all flowering plants on earth, and its arguable as to wether it or the orchid family holds more genera and species. Some daisies open thier petals in the morning when the sun comes up and close them at night when the sun is down (that is why daisies are sometimes called “day’s eye”). Daisy flowers include not only the blooms most people are familiar with, but also popular health herbs such as echinacea and arnica, and many edible plants such as artichokes and endive.

 

A daisy is a mix of two flowers called a disk floret and a white ray floret. The ray florets are at the periphery and the disk florets are at the center. It is the arrangement of these florets that gives it an appearance of a single flower. This arrangement on daisy is a type of inflorescence known as a capitulum.

The plants have 3 – 4 inch flower stalks, its evergreen leaves form a basal tuft or rosette. The texture of the leaf varies and may be hairy or smooth, narrow at the base and slightly lobed. The stalks of the flower are generally longer than the leaves. Daisies are most commonly found with bright yellow centers and pure white petals.

 

Daisy belongs to the Daisy family of Compositae, known now as Asteraceae in flowering plants and they are native to central and north Europe. Daisies are perennial bloomers, meaning they bloom yearly. The plant grows in prostrate fashion, and it can be propagated either by sowing seeds in spring or late autumn or by division in spring. These beautiful flowers can last up to several weeks when placed in fresh water and exposed to the appropriate amount of sunshine.

The leaves of daisy are consumable and are often used in salads and the flower itself used in making honey and herbal tea. The flowers are used by children to make daisy chains. They are often used as corsages for weddings and proms and are an excellent choice for arrangements and flower vases. When used in floral arrangements, daisies go well with almost every other kind of flower. White daisies make excellent fillers and are used to create a dramatic look alongside other colorful flowers. The common daisy has astringent properties which used in traditional medicines. Certain types of daisies were also known to have medicinal properties that could give relief from indigestion, cough and even heal wounds. They are an important form of nutrition for worms and cattle. It is rich in vitamin C and other minerals.

 

The most common daisies are white but they can also be found in red, yellow, and purple, along with various shades in between. The gerbera daisy (also known as the African daisy, transvaal daisy, gerb, and Barberton daisy) is a perennial favorite. The gerbera daisy has large colorful blooms, it has become the most prized daisy variety due to its bold and striking appearance. Among the daisy varieties, African daisy and Shasta daisy are the most popular varieties. Gerbera daisy is also the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip). Its leaves and petals are edible and it can also be brewed as a tea to sooth sore throats and stomach aches.

 

This april birth flower has the flower meaning of implicity, modesty, innocence, stability, sympathy and cheerfulness. An alternate birth flower for april is the sweet pea. Summer (when thundershowers occur very often) is the peak blooming season for daisy flower, therefore daisy flower is also known as ‘thunderflower’ in some regions. The famous “she loves me, she loves me not” method where people pluck out the petals to tell love’s fortune was first used with the daisy.

 

[http://list-of-birthstones.com/birth%20flowers/Daisy%20flower.html]

Weevil

A weevil is any beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily. They are usually small, less than 6 millimetres (0.24 in), and herbivorous. There are over 60,000 species in several families, mostly in the family Curculionidae (the true weevils). Some other beetles, although not closely related, bear the name “weevil”, such as the biscuit weevil (Stegobium paniceum), which belongs to the family Anobiidae. Many weevils are damaging to crops. The grain or wheat weevil (Sitophilus granarius) damages stored grain. The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) attacks cotton crops. It lays its eggs inside cotton bolls, and the young weevils eat their way out.

Weevils are often found in dry foods including nuts and seeds, cereal and grain products, such as pancake mix. In the domestic setting, they are most likely to be observed when a bag of flour is opened. Their presence is often indicated by the granules of the infested item sticking together in strings, as if caught in a cobweb.

Because there are so many species and such diversity, the higher classification of weevils is in a state of flux. Weevils are generally divided into two major divisions, the Orthoceri or primitive weevils, and the Gonatoceri or true weevils (Curculionidae). E. C. Zimmerman proposed a third division, the Heteromorphi, for several intermediate forms. Primitive weevils are distinguished by having straight antennae, while true weevils have elbowed (geniculate) antennae. The elbow occurs at the end of the scape (first antennal segment) in true weevils, and the scape is usually much longer than the other antennal segments. Some exceptions occur. Nanophyini are primitive weevils (with very long trochanters) but have long scapes and geniculate antennae. From the true weevils, Gonipterinae and Ramphus have short scapes and little or no elbow.

 

The most recent classification system to family level was provided by Kuschel, with updates from Marvaldi et al. and was achieved using phylogenetic analyses. The accepted families are the primitive weevils, Anthribidae, Attelabidae, Belidae, Brentidae, Caridae and Nemonychidae, and the true weevils Curculionidae. Most other weevil families were demoted to subfamilies or tribes. Weevil species radiation was shown to follow steps in plant evolution upon which the weevils feed. Weevils can vary in color from black to light brown.

Chinese Mantis (Tenodera Sinensis)

The Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is a species of praying mantis. Originating from China, they were first introduced to North America around 1895 as a source of pest control. Since then, the species has spread throughout much of southern New England, and the Northeast United States, and ootheca can be purchased from plant nurseries nationwide. The Chinese mantis looks like a long and slender praying mantis, with different shades of brown. Chinese mantises can reach 5 inches long and range from pale green to tan—usually tan, with a green line running down the side (the edges of the forewings). The head is triangular and swivels, so the mantis can track prey without otherwise moving. Mantises perch atop tall plants or other areas with a view, waiting to snatch any insect that flies or crawls past.

Their color can vary from overall green to brown with a green lateral stripe on the edge of the front wings. In low light the eyes of the mantis appear black, but in daylight appear to be clear, matching the color of the head.

Similar species: The European mantis (Mantis religiosa) is another non-native mantis introduced to America; it grows to about 3 inches, and its color ranges from tan to bright green. It is best distinguished by a round black spot on the inner surface of its big front legs (the inside of its “upper arms”), but it can be hard to see when their arms are held together. The Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is native to the southern United States; it is smaller, only reaching about 2 1/2 inches. It is dusty gray, tan or green, and the wings extend only three-fourths of the way down the abdomen in adult females.

Their diet consists primarily of other insects, though adult females can sometimes take down small vertebrate prey such as reptiles and amphibians (some have also been documented preying on hummingbirds). Like some other mantids, they are known to be cannibalistic. The female can produce several spherical ootheca roughly the size of a table tennis ball, containing up to 200 eggs. The ootheca are often affixed to vegetation such as bushes and small trees, as seen in the image below.

Calico Pennant

Alternate name Elisa Pennant, Family Libellulidae, Common Skimmers

Patterned in red and black. Prothorax fringed with long brown hair, thorax has mid-dorsal black stripe, widest at front. Abdomen is black with reddish triangular spots on each segment. Wing dark reddish at base.

Adult eats small flying insects. Naiad feeds on small insects and worms.

Normal habitat: Marshes, shallow bays, small streams and ponds.

Dragonflies have excellent eyesight. Their compound eyes have up to 30,000 facets, each of which is a separate light-sensing organ or ommatidium, arranged to give nearly a 360° field of vision, important for taking prey on the wing, as has done the female shown above. Odonates are completely harmless – they do not sting or bite. Indeed, they are beneficial in the same respect spiders and other predators are beneficial – they keep the burgeoning insect population in check. Many of these species prey on each other; I often see dragonflies with damsels in their clutches.

Dragonflies are among the most ancient of living creatures. Fossil records, clearly recognizable as the ancestors of our present day odonates, go back to Carboniferous times which means that the insects were flying more than 300 million years ago, predating dinosaurs by over 100 million years and birds by some 150 million.

Much larger dragonfly species existed in the distant past than occur on earth today. The largest, found as a fossil, is an extinct Protodonata named Meganeura monyi from the Permian period, with a wingspan of 70-75 cm (27.5-29.5 in). This compares to 19 cm (7.5 in) for the largest modern species of odonates, the Hawaiian endemic dragonfly, Anax strenuus. The smallest modern species recorded is the libellulid dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea from east Asia with a wingspan of only 20 mm, or about ¾ of an inch.
Dragonflies are the world’s fastest insects and, although estimates of their speed vary wildly, most credible authorities say they are capable of reaching speeds of between 30 and 60 km/h (19 to 38 mph). A study showed that dragonflies can travel as much as 85 miles in one day.

[http://www.cirrusimage.com/dragonfly_calico_pennant.htm]