Monday, August 20, 2012

Alchemical Waters Off Plant Leaves

I stumbled upon the great Annals of Botany blog, which you can now find in my sidebar. I found that they recently wrote about the origins of the temperate plant Lady's Mantle's scientific name, Alchemilla. Apparently, the dew or rain that gathered on its water-repellent leaves was in high demand because of its purity. Among its fans were said to be alchemists, who used it in their procedures to turn stuff into gold, and women, who apparently used it for beauty purposes.

Photo is by Pat Heslop-Harrison, from the Annals of Botany post.
A photo from an old post on this blog.
I was reminded of gabi leaves, which gather water not so gracefully, due to the shape and size of its leaves. The "plant leaf surface property" that enables it to repel water and keep itself "clean" is mentioned also in an AoB piece cited in the article. I've tried searching for local rituals that utilize this water, but nothing came up, unfortunately.

Water gathers at center, reflects juvenile brontosaurus.
Another famously water-repellent leaf surface is that of the tree star from Land Before Time. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talisay Leaves in Place of Plastic Pots

I picked some eggplant seedlings up (for immediate transplant) at the Paoay market. Talisay leaves were wrapped around the seedlings' soil and roots. Awesome way to avoid propagation-related plastic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flooding, Water Hyacinth, Etc.

Almost exactly a year ago, I planted some trees in Taguig. We (together with a group that my father had organized) planted banaba trees along the new C-6 highway, in a place called Wawa. Incidentally, Wawa is actually an old word used to denote areas that are deltas (mouths of rivers). There is a Wawa in Paranaque (near Merville), and also Guagua in Pampanga. Both are deltas. Great job building a highway here!  Planners are excellent at ignoring wetlands, deltas, and all of that stuff.

The pumping station in the photo above (painted blue) is actually under heat after the recent floodings, particularly for running out of gasoline and being unable to pump water into Laguna de Bay. The district, according to an SMS I received this morning, was flooded severely, with some areas sunken as deep as two persons standing atop each other. I am not sure of the water hyacinth's role in the flood, but I'm sure they had some effect.

As you can see, the place was rife with water hyacinth, and people were collecting small amounts of it and making them into handicrafts. The MMDA also has harvesters sailing the murky waters and collecting the plant. I believe that composting programs are a better way to deal with this biomass, instead of creating highly varnished souvenirs.

Meanwhile, in Davao, we ate at a catfish joint with surrounding aquaculture areas that were densely populated with water hyacinth. Contained, they are quite benign and beautiful.