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Urban bee die-off in Oregon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One day last week, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon. A landscaper had sprayed blooming linden trees with Safari, a product containing dinotefuran. The ingredient is a systemic insecticide classified as a neonicotinoid, a relative of nicotine that acts on the nervous system of insects. Another June bee kill occurred in the town of Hillsboro. Bumblebees were innocently doing their pollination duty. The Oregon Department of Agriculture immediately suspended the use of 18...

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Polydamas swallowtails visit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Young Polydamas larvae. It took a couple of years, but the Polydamas Swallowtails finally have discovered my Aristolochia littoralis, calico flower. What's more, they are now very much a part of the butterfly populations that keep the airways busy around my garden. Aristolochia is a genus of tropical vines with pretty heart-shaped leaves. Some of the species have flowers shaped like old-fashioned Dutch pipes, and often the many species are referred to as pipevines. The pipevine...

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Welcome to Found at Fairchild

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Welcome to my first blog post here at Fairchild! Like most of you, my real passion and interest always lead back to nature. Even when peering into human history, nature plays the starring role because we are an integral part of the natural world even as we alter it. I once wrote that if I could do whatever I wanted for a living, I'd look for weird and interesting plants and animals, photograph them, and then write about them. I actually get to do that here, in one of the premier botanical...

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The rewards of the mango festival

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mango fans crowd the Garden House. It happens every July: mango madness descends on South Florida, with its epicenter at Fairchild's International Mango Festival. Steamy, rainy, sunny, then steamy again. No matter. The pure joy of tasting. The fun of tasting and rating, sniffing, holding mangoes fills the garden to the brim with lovers of this exquisite fruit. And the tastes can come in many forms, as visitors sampled mango and Key lime pie, mango smoothies, mango-orange drink, mango...

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Meet Our Oldest Resident

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plants and trees can be notoriously long lived (except perhaps the ones you buy at home improvement stores). California's own Great Basin bristlecone pines are undoubtedly exemplary, with "Methusaleh" (Pinus longaeva) so far at 4,844 years old. There is reportedly an even older bristlecone pine, but its identity and location are kept undisclosed. And these pines aren't clones of the original (like the 9,550-year-old spruce tree in Sweden or Pando, the ancient quaking...

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A stinky family moves in

Sunday, July 21, 2013

As published in The Miami Herald They are nearly impossible to miss. They are neither plant nor animal, though they share traits of both. The bright-red globes have been popping up in gardens and mulched areas in South Florida and Gulf Coast areas for years. And they smell horrendous. Believe it or not, they are mushrooms. These fungi are commonly called lattice stinkhorn mushrooms, but are not the kind of mushrooms you would want to eat. The lattice stinkhorn mushroom (Clathrus crispus). ...

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The Destroying Angel—Mushroom Hunting at Fairchild

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It had been raining intensely for a couple days straight as of Friday, July 19, which it often does in South Florida during the summer, our wet season. Time to mushroom hunt! I don't hunt them to eat, but rather to photograph and hopefully identify and research. I first ran across a nice mushroom under the sapodilla tree outside the Glasshouse Cafe. Then I walked a circuit along the path west past the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion, past the Edible Garden, until soon the path turns...

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Tree ferns bring tropical Australia to your garden

Sunday, July 28, 2013

As published in The Miami Herald Tree ferns look just like their names describe - tree-sized ferns, with a caudex, or trunk. They're so iconically tropical in appearance, you can't help but feel like you're in a Hawaiian rainforest when standing in their presence. You might also expect to see a dinosaur devouring the delicate fronds, since ferns in general look "primitive," and an arborescent example would certainly attract a large herbivorous reptile. The...

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