Arecaceae, Jubaea chilensis

I came across this solitary Jubaea chilensis planted in a town near where I live. In the autumn it produces massive quantities of seed. The Jubaea chilensis palm has one of the most monumental trunks of any plant in this family. The thickest well - documented trunk was 66 inches in diameter. Of the more than 2,600 known species of palms. J. chilensis is the second most massive, exceeded only by the floodplain or river bottom variety of Borassus aethiopium. The round seeds resemble miniature coconuts, with an edible coco meat and liquid in the center.

I am currently trying to germinate 150 seeds collected 9 months ago.

Asclepias fascicularis - Narrow-leaf milkweed

Below are photos of the spectacular flower and thin leaf of Asclepias fascicularis, the narrow-leaf milkweed. This species, and others in its genus, is a specific monarch butterfly food and habitat plant. Planting milkweeds and helping to support their populations can aid in creating habitat for the dwindling populations of monarch butterfly.

Narrow-leaf milkweed flower and bud at varying stages.

Narrow-leaf milkweed flower and bud at varying stages.

Narrow leaf milkweed leaf and unopened flower (bud).

Narrow leaf milkweed leaf and unopened flower (bud).

A plant from Chile kills and eats sheep...

Puya chilensis, a temperate climate evergreen perennial and close relative to the comparatively tame pineapple, catches, kills and feeds off of relatively large mammals, including sheep.

P. chilensis doesn’t consume and digest plants by way of conventional carnivorous plant methods, but nonetheless, it will snag and trap a sheep in its masses of thorns, holding the animal until it dies of starvation, and then it will proceed to feed off nutrients supplied by the decomposing carcass.

The young leaf shoots of P. chilensis can be eaten by people. Baskets and such are made from strong fibers obtained from the leaves and stems of the plant.

Here is a short recent article on Puya chilensis, apparently a 10ft specimen has just bloomed for the first time at RHS Garden Wisely, in England. Cara Smith, a Horticulturist at Wisley had this to say about the rare occurrence:  “I’m really pleased that we’ve finally coaxed our Puya chilensis into flower. We keep it well fed with liquid fertilizer as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic. It’s growing in the arid section of our glasshouse with its deadly spines well out of reach of both children and sheep alike.”

So, needless to say, Puya chilensis is a great contender for privacy screening / security planting along boarders shared with pesky neighbors.

Here are some photo I have posted previously of a very close relative to Puya chilensis, Puya berteroniana, spectacular in its own regard for its massive aquamarine/blue and orange flower spikes.

Sorbus domestica hybrids - Hybrid Mountain Ash

An overview and photos of Luther Burbank’s Sorbus domestica hybrids in Sebastopol, California. Sorbus domestica has much potential in agroforestry systems, reforestation and further domestication / selection / hybridization.

Eriodictyon californicum - Yerba Santa

Yerba Santa is a Borage relative that grows in a variety of habitats including chaparral and Coast Redwood forests.

The leaves have historically been used to treat asthma, upper respiratory infections and allergic rhinitis. The Concow tribe calls the plant  wä-sä-got’-ō. The Chumash used it as a poultice  for wounds, insect bites, broken bones, and sores. It was also used in a steam bath to treat hemorrhoids.

Eriodictyon californicum
Eriodictyon californicum

Calochortus amabilis - Golden fairy lantern

Calochortus amabilis flowers.

Calochortus amabilis flowers.

Calopchortus amabilis, another California native flowering bulb. This is a stout branching plant with bright yellow flowers with a triangular outline.

The plant prefers higher levels of shade, and soil humus rich in organic matter, however it grows in the wild in a wide variety of conditions, including full sun, rocky hillsides, chaparral and Serpentine soils. .

In the wild the plant can be found along the North Coast Ranges from Solano and Marin Counties to Humboldt an Colusa County.

As with the bulbs of many Calochortus species, C. amabilis bulbs were traditionally eaten by Indigenous peoples in the region. Bulbs were baked or boiled and eaten in a similar way as sweet potatoes. Large swaths of land were carefully sustainably managed over generations to provide supply of these delicious and nutritious bulbs.

Young seed pods on Calochortus amabilis

Young seed pods on Calochortus amabilis

Calochortus amabilis flower close-up.

Calochortus amabilis flower close-up.

Fouquieriaceae, Fouquieria diguetii, Palo Adan, Adam's Tree

This is a somewhat unique, tree-like shrub, with a short trunk and numerous branches growing upright. When in bloom this species has a spectacular reddish-pink bloom, very bright and in stark contrast to the desertscape. Reportedly the bark is stripped and cooked and used to wash cuts.

Palo Adan, leafing out

Palo Adan, leafing out

Palo Adan, leaf

Palo Adan, leaf

Palo Adan

Palo Adan

Palo Adan, bark detail

Palo Adan, bark detail

Thermopsis macrophylla - False Lupine

A west coast native annual nitrogen fixing plant in the Fabaceae family. Reminds me of Crotolaria in its growth habit and overall appearance. It looks like it has potential as a cultivated, drought tolerant biomass or cover corp species.

Thermopsis macrophylla leaf and flower.

Thermopsis macrophylla leaf and flower.

Thermopsis macrophylla flower spike.

Thermopsis macrophylla flower spike.