Sunday, 13 March 2016

Aloe -- Spiral Polyphylla

" 'Golden Spiral' Aloe", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Aloe vera", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016
Most of us are familiar with Aloe Vera commonly found growing in a pot on a kitchen windowsill ready for use whenever the cook burns a finger by touching a pan just out of the oven.  Today, however, I would like to introduce you to a cousin of this houseplant -- a cousin which refuses to grow anywhere except on one particular mountain range in southern Africa! 

While I was doing research on the Golden Spiral (see February 28, 2016 posting), I came across numerous photos of the Spiral Aloe plant being used as an example of instances where the Golden Spiral appears in nature. As you may recall, those instances can be found across the universe -- from the spiral shape of the largest galaxy to the gentle curve of an egg or a baby's ear.

Once I began to look closely at this fascinating plant, which is found growing in only one area of the Drakensberg Mountains in southern Africa, I discovered that not only did it beautifully exhibit the Golden Spiral in its growth pattern, but that it also produced striking and unusual flowers.  So, although my original plan was to simply draw a Spiral Aloe clearly showing its perfect spiral, once I discovered the flowers, I knew I wanted to include them as well. 

Now for some details about the Spiral Aloe plant....  

Aloe polyphylla is a species in the genus Aloe that is endemic to the the Drakensberg mountains, particularly where the mountains cross the areas of the Kingdom of Lesotho and related parts of South Africa. Aloe polyphylla is commonly known as the Spiral Aloe in English, Kroonaalwyn in Afrikaans or Lekhala kharatsa in Sesotho. The species epithet, polyphylla, means "many-leaved" in Greek while the genus name of Aloe is derived from the Arabic word, Alloeh, meaning 'shining, bitter substance'.

Aloe polyphylla, known for its strikingly symmetrical spirals, is a stemless aloe and grows its leaves in a very distinctive spiral shape. The plants do not seem to sucker or produce off-shoots, but from the germination of their seeds they can form small, dense clumps.
The fat, wide, serrated, gray-green leaves have sharp, dark leaf-tips. 

This aloe flowers at the beginning of summer, producing red-to-orange-pink flowers. The spiral aloe grows on the high, mountainous, grassy slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains where it clings tightly to rocky crevices. The climate is cool in the summer and in the winter the aloes are often covered in deep snow. 

The species is highly sought after as an ornamental but is difficult to cultivate and usually dies soon after being removed from its natural habitat. In South Africa, buying or collecting the plant is a criminal offence.

Portions of the above information were taken from various Internet sources.


Fortunately, Braden and Rònàn had the childhood pleasure of spending time out sledding with their parents.  Of course, now that winter seems to suddenly be over, I'm sure their parents are very pleased that they helped their children enjoy the snow for the few weeks it was here! Truly, the weather just gets stranger and stranger.

Anyway, enough of that... here are recent photos of my favourite boys playing in the snow.  Photos taken by their mother, I presume...

With Dad carrying Ro while Braden
pulls the sleigh, our intrepid outdoors
men set off for the sledding hill!
Even experienced outdoors men
have to pause for a breather
now and again.

Having fun!

The brothers reclining in the sled while their Dad gets to do the pulling!

Since Ro is too young to go by himself,
his Dad rides with him.
Braden goes down the hill solo.

After a busy day of sledding, it
looks as though the brothers are
starting to get tired.

In fact, Ro decides that this is the perfect place
to have a nap and to also get a ride home!



Suki carefully watching me
prepare her lunch!

Sorry to tell you, but this is going to be a rather short section today.  Why?  Well, mainly because nothing of any real interest has occurred since my last posting.

Suki did gobble down her lunch too quickly one day this past week and promptly disgorged it all.  It took her about 10 minutes to get over the embarrassment and discomfort of this event and after washing her face thoroughly, she was begging me to feed her again.  I told her that she had been given her lunch and it was not my fault that she had wasted it.  It was a battle of wills, but I managed to hold out until supper time!

As well, she behaved as usual on the days when she knew Joycelyn would be coming -- always hoping that there just might be a few seconds of life left in the laser pointer batteries.  Joycelyn, being the kind person she is, took pity on Suki and played with her each day until the red dot disappeared.

As for me, I did have a medical appointment, but it was just a routine visit to meet with the pain management doctor.  Since everything is more or less under control at the moment, my appointment consisted of telling him which medications needed repeats and getting the prescriptions from him.  My visit lasted all of about 10 minutes.

My biggest news at the moment is that Joycelyn is finally taking a much needed vacation.  She will be going to the west Caribbean area to visit with her relatives and friends for two weeks.  She leaves this coming Friday and so she is working extra hard to make certain that Suki and I have all the food, provisions, scheduled helpers, etc. that will be needed while she is away.  

I will be a bit lost without her, but I'm sure that all the temporary arrangements she has put in place will see me through until she returns at the end of March.

I haven't told Suki yet as I am concerned that she might go into a decline once she knows that there is no way she is going to get to play with the laser pointer for an entire 14 days!

I do have another medical appointment this week during which the doctor's nurse will be using that blood-pressure-torture-machine on my poor arm again.  If I survive, I will let you know how my B/P is doing when I post next Sunday.



"Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016 revision

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” Jn 8:1-11

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