Saturday, May 31, 2008
He's down there in the lower left corner.
These are pictures of the red mangroves. Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) have prop roots which not only reduce wave action and erosion, but also serve as important habitat for estuary nurseries. In these nurseries, baby fish, oysters, barnacles, crabs, seahorses and lots of other species are protected from the larger fish lurking in deeper waters.
Marine biologist, Jack Taylor, guided us from Grande Tours outdoor center along the tidal estuary. The Grande Tours center is very cute and the people are friendly and very knowledgable!
Oh, and I thought you'd be interested to know that red mangroves also have medicinal uses:
- gnarles of the bark are used to treat throat cancer
- ashes or bark infusions are used to treat skin disorders and sores
Friday, May 30, 2008
According to the Veterinary Medicine Library at the University of Illinois, the Jack-in-the-pulpit is poisonous to animals. The corm (i.e. the underground plant stem that looks like a tuber and stores starches/energy for the plant) of the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, possibly an alkaloid, and volatile acrid compounds. Apparently, it is "gathered, dried and sold by drug collectors". Some of the lovely side effects:
- intense burning and biting sensation in the mouth, throat, and stomach (probably from the calcium oxalate crystals)
- inflammation of the stomach and intestine
- difficulty of breathing due to swelling of mouth and throat
BUT...as with many plants, even though part of it is poisonous, if done differently, it's edible...very tricky! IF the plant root/corm is properly dried or cooked it can be eaten. Native Americans used it to treat sore eyes, rheumatism, bronchitis, and snakebites. Oh, and something else fun that Native Americans used it for - to induce sterility.
According to one website - "It is reported that they also used it diagnostically by dropping a seed in a cup of water and if the seed went around four times clockwise the patient would recover and if less the patient would die." - I think that's really cool! What a great way to diagnose people. Plus the seeds (which are out in Fall) are a beautiful red color, so this would be a very suspenseful tradition!
This Cornus kousa, creatively named the Kousa dogwood, was found at Hopewell Cancer Center in Towson, MD. It's a beautiful tree in the Cornaceae family with these really neat looking flowers and leaves. It is native to Japan. I think the flowers and leaves look like they are made of origami. Not sure what that leaf tip is called, but the way it does a subtle twist at the end makes it quite beautiful.
Here's one more link to info about this cool tree.