Sunday, September 27, 2009


Originally uploaded by pdecell
Fall sneaks up
in a robe of thorns
the herald of winter
playing her windy bones.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A lesson from my plants

Here are three plants from my collection:

Plant number 1

Plant number 2

and finally...

Plant number 3

Which are cacti?

A little more information. At least one is a cactus.

The first plant grows in warm semi arid regions in South America. Some members of this group of plants get to be mid sized trees but most are shrubby.

The second plant has reduced leaves that function as thorns and it is found in deserts in the SW United States and Mexico.

The third plant lives in the jungles of Southern Mexico and into Central America.

All three plants have very similar looking and distinctive complex flowers, all organized in the same basic way.

So which are cacti? How do you know?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Orchid at Sunset

orchid at sunset
Originally uploaded by pdecell
You always have to be ready whenever a good picture strikes. I was prepping some steaks to grill and caught the red light of sunset reflecting from some common Dendrobium in bloom. So I dashed upstairs to get my camera to film the luscious colors before the light could fade.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Yet another odd plant

Readers of my blog know I love odd plants. So here is my latest:


This is Cissus and I am thinking C. quadrangularis. Got this wonderful plant today at the Lawrence farmer's market. Has these great segmented stems. The plant is in the grape family and apparently has medicinal properties.

This article from Lipid World (Julius Oben , Dieudonne Kuate , Gabriel Agbor , Claudia Momo and Xavio Talla, Lipids in Health and Disease 2006, 5:24doi:10.1186/1476-511X-5-24 )claims:

"Cissus quadrangularis, for example, is used by common folk in India to hasten the fracture healing process. In Cameroon, the whole plant is used in oral re-hydration, while in Africa and Asia the leaf, stem, and root extracts are utilized in the management of various ailments. Phytochemical analyses of Cissus quadrangularis reveal a high content of ascorbic acid, carotene, phytosterol substances and calcium, and there have also been reports of the presence of β-sitosterol, δ-amyrin and δ-amyrone . All these components have potentially different metabolic and physiologic effects. "

The article further concludes that extracts of this plant are effective for weight loss and metabolic syndrome in a randomized double blind placebo experiment. Now don't all go rushing out to buy extracts from this plant because the long term effects of the extract are not known.

Also from reading the materials and methods it really isn't clear whether the effects were do to this plant or other materials in the extract:

"The Cissus quadrangularis formula, Cylaris™, contains a Cissus quadrangularis extract (supplied by Gateway Health Alliances, Inc, Fairfield, California, USA), standardized to contain a minimum of 2.5% phytosterols and a minimum of 15% soluble plant fiber. The formula also consists of a soy albumin extract (supplied by Gateway Health Alliances, Inc, Fairfield, California, ... All active and placebo capsules were manufactured and bottled by Protein Research, Inc."

No where does the article state what was in the placebo beyond that the placebo capsule was identical in shape color and appearance. So maybe the experiment needs a little tighter control to be convincing.