Ficus leaves damaged by whiteflies
The Tucker Greenhouse has its share of ‘critters’, but right now there is a ‘bloom’ of these nasty whitefly insects, AND they are slowly defoliating a large Ficus tree in one of the tropical greenhouses. They seem to like certain plants better than others too. They love feeding on members of the Araceae, and Moraceae plant families in particular.
For a great description of whiteflies and the havoc they can wreak on plants, see the following from Planet Natural, a research center for organic gardeners…
Murraya koenigii, commonly called Curry Leaf, is found in the Rutaceae (Citrus) family.
The Curry Tree or Curry Leaf plant is very fragrant. The flowers are fragrant, the leaves are fragrant, the whole plant is simply fragrant! This tropical plant is native to the moist forests of south Asia. The fresh leaves of the plant are used as a flavoring in Indian/Asian cuisine.
For more information on the use of the Curry Leaf plant please check out http://kurma.net/essays/e8.html
The Tucker Greenhouse Curry Leaf plant is located in the main hallway at the entrance to the greenhouse. When you find it, feel free to gently pull off a small leaf and crush it in your hands, or simply smell the flowers. The aroma is tantalizing. If these flowers produce seeds, I’ll be planting them a.s.a.p.
The genus name Murraya, pays honor to Johann Andreas Murray, a Swedish professor of medicine and botany in the 1700’s.
The ginger lily in the tropical room has just begun to bloom. It typically blooms in February in the Tucker Greenhouse. If you’d like to find it, go in to the room with the pond and look just west of the deepest pond. You’ll see several ginger inflorescences filled with whitish, yellow & orange orchid-like flowers.
Alpinia speciosa, commonly called ginger lily. This plant is found in the Zingiberaceae, or ginger family.
Banana flowers-Musa sp. found in the Musaceae family.
Close-up of the flowers
Banana flower/fruit stalk
For a lively rendition of the song “My banana has no bones”, sung by Dr. James Bircher, please click here.
Theobroma cacao tree with flowers and bean forming.
For scale, each flower is smaller than a dime, and the current length of the tiny beans is 1 cm. I will be giving updates as these chocolate beans grow and change.
Amorphophallus titanum, commonly called Titan arum, is found in the Araceae family.
The Tucker greenhouse was given a Titan arum tuber from the New York Botanical Garden five years ago. Each year after its stem and leaves die back, I lift the tuber and transplant it into a larger pot. The summer heat in the Tucker greenhouse is way too hot for this tender plant, so, I bring it home to my patio for the long summer. This year it grew to a height of 1.5 meters. I recently brought it back to the Tucker greenhouse to live until next summer. If everything I’ve read is correct, the Tucker greenhouse Titan arum could bloom in two more years! Fingers crossed.
For more information on this amazing plant, check out this link from Kew Gardens http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/amorphophallus-titanum-titan-arum
Oncopeltus fasciatura (Hemiptera), or large Milkweed bug. The picture above shows a group of milkweed bugs in various stages of growth on a milkweed seed pod. These bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis. The nymphs look just like the adults, but don’t have wings and are a different color.
Oleander aphids on milkweed pod.
Oleander aphids, Aphis nerii, are bright yellow aphids that feed on several ornamental plants within the Apocynaceae family. You may see an occasional brownish looking aphid in the bunch. These have been parasitized by the parasitoid wasp, Lysiphelbus testaceips.
If you get a chance, look closely at a milkweed plant. Chances are, it will be covered with insects of all kinds.