Sunday, 30 April 2017

Flowering Lanterns

"Abuliton pictum -- Dark-veined Chinese Lanterns", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Abutilon pictum, commonly known as Dark-veined Chinese Lanterns or Indian Maple, is a species of Abutilon in the Malvaceae (Mallow) family. It is native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It was naturalized in India, possibly as early as the 1600s, by the British where it rapidly became so widespread that it is now considered by most Indians to be a native tree. 

Abutilon pictum produces numerous solitary, bell-shaped orange flowers with distinctive thin reddish-purple veins. The blossoms droop lantern-like from the leaf axes on thin stalks. Flowers may bloom almost year around in frost-free, sub-tropical climates. 

Flower structure resembles that of other mallows in that each flower features 5 overlapping petals with stamens fused into a central hibiscus-like column. The flowers are edible, raw or cooked, with the sweet flavor increasing the longer the bloom is open. Branches are clad with three- to five-lobed, dark-green, maple-like leaves. 

The genus name, Abutilon, comes from the Arabic word for a mallow-like plant (awbūtīlūn). The specific name, pictum, comes from the Latin “pictus” meaning brightly marked, painted or variegated in probable reference to the distinctive veins on the flowers.


"Crinodendron hookerianum - Chilean Lantern Tree", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Crinodendron hookerianum, commonly known as the Chilean lantern tree, is an evergreen tree in the family Elaeocarpaceae. It is native to Chile; however, it is a surprisingly cold-tolerant and temperate species within a mostly tropical family of plants. I have heard, for example, that it can be found growing healthily as far north as Scotland.

Crinodendron hookerianum, when in full bloom, is strikingly beautiful. The lantern-shaped flowers range in colour from light pink to crimson. The elegant evergreen-type leaves are lance-shaped, leathery and alternate -- dark green above and hairy whitish green below. Interestingly, the flower buds appear on the always-green tree in the autumn and remain on the tree until spring at which time they swell into pink lanterns. 

The genus name of Crinodendron is from the Ancient Greek words κρίνον meaning "lily" and δένδρον meaning "tree". The specific name of hookerianum honours William Jackson Hooker, an English botanist who studied many Chilean plants and was the Director of Kew Gardens from 1841 to his death in 1865.

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


Suki enjoying her chair and the afternoon sunshine
Well, I finally got the report back from the vet and, believe it or not, we still do not have a definite diagnosis.   

At present, the most likely diagnosis is idiopathic hyper-calcemia.  To interpret, this means "we are not really sure why your cat has such high levels of calcium in her blood, but if you will just pay an additional $800, then we will be able to tell you for certain that either your cat has some type of lymphoma (cancer) or just idiopathic hypercalcemia."  And, in case you didn't know, idiopathic means "relating to or denoting any disease or condition that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown."

Whatever the case, I need to try to get Suki's calcium levels down quickly. So, in the next few days, I will be getting the vet clinic to deliver new "veterinary only" food for Suki to learn to eat.  I foresee a week or so of living with a cat who will not eat her food and who then proceeds to complain bitterly about being hungry. I foresee many sleepless nights!

Suki has always been a very fussy eater and so I cannot imagine that she will take kindly to changes in her food.  When she first came to live with me, it took several weeks before I discovered the exact brands of wet food and dry food she was willing to eat.  

As I have recounted in these blog postings many times, whenever I have tried to change her diet in any way, Suki has always refused to participate in my efforts.  Due to her unwillingness to eat anything other than her favourites, she simply goes without anything but water and then makes my life miserable until I finally give in and give her the food she wants.  This time I cannot afford to give in as this is becoming a life or death matter, I fear.

So, next time I post here, I will either have a story of success or a story of continuing failure to recount.  I am trying my best to be positive about it all, but I am afraid that my previous experiences with Suki are causing me to be somewhat skeptical about my chances of a successful outcome.


As for me, I continue to be about the same as usual these days.

I do have two medical appointments this week.  
One, an MRI of my spine, is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 7:15 A.M. Somehow I will have to get myself up and out of here by 7 A.M.  I've made arrangements with a friend who is always up early to give me a phone call around 5:30 just to make certain that I haven't shut off the alarm clock and gone back to sleep! 
Then, on Tuesday, I go see the ophthalmologist at the hospital for an "every six-months", follow-up appointment.

Happy May 1st everyone!



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