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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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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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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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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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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A hardy shrub for hot South Florida

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Native Tetrazygia bicolor. Enjoying the heat of summer is Tetrazygia bicolor or West Indian lilac. Its white flowers with bold yellow stamens appear crisp and undeterred by the wilting heat. This native shrub loves our limestone soils and yet it appreciates some organic content. The shrub is in the Melastomaceae, a wide-ranging tropical family, and it has characteristic melastome leaves with distinctive veins. In southern Florida, it grows on the edges of hammocks to garner sun and ...

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Celebrate Pollinators!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A happy bee on white milkweed vine, Sarcostemma clausum Pollinator Week begins June 17. As we witness the significant decline in honeybees, bumble bees, wild bees, butterflies and birds, let's take this week to plant wildflowers to help out the pollinators remaining. On Saturday, Steve Woodmansee is having a native plant sale at Silent Native Nursery, 16265 SW 210 Terrace, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Go to and find specific plants and what nurseries carry them. Look for...

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Rincon de la Veija Hike

Monday, June 10, 2013

After a night at Rincon de la ViejaLodge a short drive took me to thepark entrance and the beginning ofa 5km walking trail. Through the forest and acrossstreams. Leading up towards the open, mudpool and fumarole-dotted volcanoslope. Spectacular trees Tabebuia chrysantha floweringabove the forest canopy. Emerging from the forest the trail leads past boiling mud pots, belching fumaroles and bubbling pools, the whole area reeking of hydrogen sulphide. A spectacular and dramatic landscape. After ...

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A Hike Along Volcán Tenorio

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Volc n Tenorio - a beautiful and mildly strenuous5km hike along well-defined trails skirting theRio Celeste on the slopes of Volc n Tenorio Lush vegetation.Featured: Heliconia A species of Psychotria (great butterfly nectar plants) Another species of Psychotria Breathing the strong odor of hydrogen sulphide I followed the Rio Celeste past aspectacular waterfall along a trail dotted with . . . . . . tree ferns and palms. Across semi-secure bridges Until the reason for the...

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Aflame in the conservatory

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Warszewiczia coccinea. Blooming beautifully in the Conservatory is Warszewiczia coccinea, a small tree in the coffee family with fire engine red sepals that offset small yellow flowers. The name, a tongue twister, remembers Josef Warszewicz, a 19th Century botanist who found an enormous number of orchids and sent them to England to be described. Warszewicz was of Polish descent, born in 1812, but as a young man had to leave his homeland because of a revolution. He worked at the Botanical ...

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