Sunday, 2 April 2017

Tropaeolum tricolor

"Tropaeolum tricolour -- Chilean Nasturtium", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 

The Chilean Nasturtium - Tropaeolum tricolor - is a stunning, rare vine with psychedelic blooms! Its vivid scarlet, yellow, and violet flowers swim like schools of tropical fish throughout winter, when most plants are colorless. It is a species of perennial plant in the family, Tropaeolaceae. 

Tropaeolum tricolor is native to Chile and Bolivia where it is called either soldadito rojo or relicario. The vine tends to grow 4 to 6 feet tall, although it can potentially get to 9 feet. It has wiry stems and dainty leaves, both of which are surprisingly durable. The leaf stems are sensitive to touch and act like tendrils, wrapping themselves around branches as the plant climbs upward. Around late winter, once the plant has all its leaves, the flowers make their appearance. They tend to face the same general direction, giving the impression that they're swimming together! 

Sephanoides sephanoides
Three-coloured Chilean Nasturtium grows in the cloud forest on the coastal mountains of northern Chile at 300 to 900 metres (980 to 2,950 ft.). Further south it grows in inland temperate forests in the central regions. Here it grows on level ground or north facing slopes in full sun or dappled shade. It can endure periods of drought of up to 10 months. The tubers are well buried and are hardy down to a temperature of about −8 °C (18 °F) and can tolerate short periods of snow cover. The flowers are pollinated by the green-backed, fire-crown hummingbird (Sephanoides sephanoides). This is the same hummingbird that pollinates Philesia magellanica (the Chilean Bellflower) which I featured back on 2 October 2016. 

The genus name of Tropaeolum is taken from the Latin word “tropaeum” meaning “trophy” which refers to the shape of the flowers. Tricolour obviously means “three colours”. Tri is taken from either the Latin "tres" or Greek "treis", both of which mean "three".

Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.


Suki -- Simple house cat or
master manipulator?
I have the strangest feeling that I have been conned -- once again -- by this cat! And, yet, it truly doesn't seem possible. Let me explain...

Two weeks ago, I took Suki to the vet. After weighing her, the vet explained to me, in great detail, the need for me to try to bring down Suki's weight.  As we talked, Suki sat there between us very quietly -- looking at us as we spoke -- almost as though she was listening carefully to what was being said.

After the vet had finished explaining very carefully how Suki would have less pain if I got her weight down by even one pound, I promised I would do my best to strictly adhere to her instructions. I felt quite guilty for not doing better and promised myself that in the future I would not give in to Suki's pleas for extra food or treats.

After we returned home, I began Suki's new feeding regimen. Although Suki immediately began to complain about the smaller portions she was getting, I determinedly stuck to my resolutions.

However, on the third day of this new arrangement, Suki suddenly began to exhibit symptoms of illness.  It was like she had the symptoms of a mild flu bug as she was throwing up and having a bit of diarrhea.  For about a day, Suki was not interested in food at all, but by day 2 of her "illness", she was allowing me to feed her small amounts of her favourite foods plus a few treats.  Her symptoms of illness quickly disappeared and everything seemed to return to normal.

In the process, however, Suki somehow ended up back on her regular feeding schedule and off her new diet!  Now I am afraid to put her back on a diet for fear that she might become "ill" once again.  Meanwhile, I have a sneaking suspicion that this cat has, once again, manipulated me into giving her what she wants.

I have no idea how Suki might have accomplished this, but I must say that her "illness" was rather perfectly timed. Her symptoms begin about two days into a rather strict diet and then, mysteriously, her symptoms disappeared as soon as she started receiving her full rations once again!  I know I have a highly skeptical nature, but doesn't this all seem just a bit suspicious to you as well?

As for me, other than possibly being conned once again by my kitty-cat companion, I am doing as well as conditions allow.  I continue to be able to spend a few hours each day doing art work. This activity not only fully distracts my attention from awareness of the never-ending pain, but it also gives me a great deal of pleasure.  I hope that at least some of the results of this art work provide others, such as yourselves, with a bit of pleasure as well.

I, also, continue to be able to read by using my iPad to fix the size of the font and the grayness of the background. Thankfully, reading also continues to be another way to completely distract myself from the awareness of my poor, old body.  Thank goodness, ever since I learned to read at the age of 4 I have been able to "lose" myself in books.  

As a note of interest, my older sister, Janet, taught me to read. She had already decided, at age 11, that she was going to be a teacher and was busy trying to teach me and all the neighbourhood children how to read. As I recall, her methods were rather strict and a bit unorthodox; however, she managed to get the job done and for that I will always be grateful.

Speaking of reading, I have just finished the book: "Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams (yes, "The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" guy, now deceased).  It was written well over 20 years ago and tells the story of Adams and a British zoologist visiting a number of endangered species throughout the world to see what efforts are being made to save them.  I wanted to read this book after coming watching a British TV mini-series following up on these same creatures 20 years later.  This time, since Adams is deceased, they asked Stephen Fry to accompany the BBC team along with the same zoologist.  The book and TV series were both delightful encounters, but left me feeling, oh, so sad as I consider what we have done and continue to do to this planet and all its myriads of plants and animals.  

Sadly, and without casting any blame since we are all guilty to some extent, it is currently estimated that dozens of species, above the natural “background” rate, are going extinct every day.  So many species which have been present for millions of years on this planet, many of which we haven't even identified yet, are now silently, hopelessly, simply disappearing from the earth. Fortunately, the DNA of many of these plants and animals has been taken and carefully stored.  So, perhaps, if there is ever a time in the future when people actually treat the planet with respect so that the earth begins to heal, many of these can live once again.

Anyway, thanks for listening!
I will be back in two weeks.  Until then, take care everyone.



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