Sunday, 8 January 2017

Lycoris radiata

"Lycoris radiata -- Red Spider Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Lycoris radiata, also known as red spider lily, is a plant in the family, AmaryllidaceaeIt flowers in the late summer or autumn, often in response to heavy rainfall. This gives rise to another of its common names, especially in Florida, of "hurricane lily" as these plants are frequently seen in bloom after a hurricane has passed. Lycoris radiata is native to China, Korea and Nepal. From there, it was introduced into Japan and thence to North America and beyond. 

A few of the many blooms which appeared
on the Narcissus plant my friend, Patricia,
gave to me as a Christmas gift.

Lycoris radiata shares the same family as the Amaryllis and Narcissus plants that people often give as gifts during the holiday season. In fact, I received a gift of a lovely Narcissus plant from my friend, Patricia, during the recent holidays (see photo at right).  Of course, I am having to keep it far from Suki as all parts of the plants in this family are poisonous.

Lycoris radiata is a bulbous perennial. It normally flowers before the leaves fully appear, on stems 12–28 inches (30–70 centimetres) tall. The reddish-pink flowers are arranged in umbels. Individual flowers are irregular with narrow segments which curve backwards with long projecting stamens. 

As mentioned previously, the bulbs of Lycoris radiata are very poisonous making them potentially hazardous for pets or young children.  Interestingly, however, in places like Japan, this poisonous feature means that the bulbs are often used as a means of pest control. Rice paddies and houses are surrounded by the bulbs which pests and mice cannot resist nibbling on with obvious results. 

As well, many Buddhists will use Lycoris radiata to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors during which they plant the flowers on the grave as a tribute. Thus, there will be many of these pinkish-red flowers blooming in and around cemeteries.  It is hardly surprising, therefore, that these flowers are described in Chinese and Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra as ominous flowers that grow in Diyu (Hell) and guide the dead into the next reincarnation.

Floral arrangement containing Lycoris
 radiata.  Evidently, not the sort of thing
you should send to your friend in Japan!
I have been told that since the Red Spider Lily is mostly associated with death by Buddhists (especially in Japan), you should never give a bouquet containing these flowers to someone who is Buddhist/Japanese (in photo at right the Lycoris radiata can be seen at the back of this lovely floral arrangement).

The genus name, Lycoris, honors a Roman beauty who was the mistress of Mark Antony. The species name, radiata, is from the Latin and means “spreading rays” as in the word "radiates", referring to the spreading, curved flower tepals.

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


Drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer showing 
the way that Suki loves to soak up 
the winter sunshine
Well, Miss Suki is beginning the New Year in exactly the same way she left the old year -- occasionally being a nuisance and a pest -- that is until it gets close to meal time when she becomes absolutely annoying!

You would think that Suki would become sweeter and more loving to me, the person who provides the food, the closer we get to the time for her to be fed.  Instead, she can at those times become a perfect pest. Perhaps she behaves this way because she knows that no matter how irritated I become with her, I will feed her anyway.  Suki knows beyond a doubt that I will never be cruel to her.

Of course, you have heard all of this before and you are probably thinking to yourself "what on earth could Suki have done that was more devious than anything I have heard previously?"  Well, let me just tell you about her latest trick...

As you may recall, I told you all several months ago that the pain in my spine has caused me to once again give up my bed and sleep, instead, in my big recliner.  The chair is constructed in such a way so that when it is in the "lying-down" position, my back gets more and better support than my fine mattress could ever give.  So, for obvious sanitary reasons, before going to bed, I take one of my soft, cotton sheets and spread it completely over the open chair.

On Thursday morning of this past week, about 5:30 a.m., I became vaguely aware that Suki had already started her campaign to get me to get up and feed her.  She was using her usual noise makers, but I think I have become so used to hearing them, that I found I could keep dozing in spite of the noise.

Then, through my sleepy haze, I became aware of a strange noise in a strange place.  I tried to ignore it, but I was puzzled and confused as the noise seemed to be originating from underneath the recliner. Suddenly, some creature popped up under my sheet, next to my head.  It was sufficiently startling and surprising so that I became fully awake. I quickly reached for the switch on the table lamp next to me, turned on the light and began to investigate.  

It soon became obvious that the strange creature now lodged between the sheet and the recliner was none other than Suki! What a surprise, NOT. She had managed to get under the sheet where it was tucked in on the back of the chair and, while hanging upside down, she had crawled up the back of the chair and, then, continued crawling until she came over the top and ended up next to my head.  

[Remember, Suki has arthritis in one hip and a ruptured cruciate ligament in the other.  Normally, she has to force herself to jump from the floor to the seat of a chair -- I have watched her and you can see that she is in pain. Yet, here she was holding onto the underside of the recliner with nothing but her claws.  I can only imagine that it must have caused her a lot of pain to do this.]

By now, not only was I fully awake, I was also up and out of my "bed".  Suki could say "mission well accomplished".  I should have been thoroughly aggravated with this cat, but, instead, I ended up laughing.

Then, since Suki was still under the sheet, I couldn't resist taking my long-handled, back scratcher from the table nearby and teasing her with it for a few minutes. She enjoyed playing, but I soon realized that I had too much pain in my wrists at that moment to enjoy my part of the game so I stopped and headed off to begin my morning routine.  Behind me I could hear Suki making all sorts of efforts to get herself untangled from the sheet and the chair but she managed somehow.  Finally, about 15 minutes later, she was eating her breakfast.  Truly, she could say once again, "Mission accomplished."

As for me, I have enjoyed a break from posting my regular columns for the past two Sundays; however, now I feel ready to return to preparing the art work and the comments each week as usual.  

I hope all of you had a good holiday season. I had a very quiet Christmas and New Years' myself.  There were a few visitors and a number of phone calls -- all of them enjoyable.  Most of the time, though, it was just Suki and Sallie enjoyably keeping one another company as the days quietly passed.

Once the New Year began, however, I have found myself having to go from resting mode to active mode in a big hurry.  On the 4th, my dear friend, Eugene, came for a visit -- on the 5th I had two medical appointments back to back -- on Friday, the 6th, I had a long visit with my dear friend, Sharon in the morning followed by afternoon negotiations with the vet clinic about sending more medication for Suki (it was finally delivered by taxi late in the afternoon). Gratefully, yesterday, the 7th, was a day without any appointments of any kind and so I just relaxed and read another book. Today, as a new week begins, I am finishing off my blog posting and may have visitors this afternoon. 

Christmas greetings (one day late) to all my Orthodox readers and may 2017 be a good year for us all.


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