Several plants in the peperomia genus are grown as common houseplants here in North America, but have you ever seen one like this?
I was first introduced to this particular plant in Dominica, where it goes by the local names JiwonflÃƒÂ¨*, JonflÃƒÂ¨, or Giron Fleur**. It is most often found in very damp and dark places, and as a result most of my photos were lousy. Last month I found it again (as seen here), on display in the Tropical Rainforest Conservatory at the Montreal Botanical Gardens and was able to get a better photo.
JiwonflÃƒÂ¨ is a tiny trailing succulent that grows as an epiphyte, hanging from the branches of trees, most commonly cocao and grapefruit. In Dominica, the plant is brewed into an herbal cold remedy but what’s most fascinating is the smell. When you crush the leaves, it emits a soft green peppercorn aroma. I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising since peperomia is in the same family as black peppercorns (Piperaceae).
This morning, I set out to post a different photo until I was reminded that it is St. Patrick’s Day, a day I most often associate with clovers. Technically oxalis and clovers aren’t the same thing, but they are often mashed together around this particular holiday. In truth, I’m going through a rather rabid oxalophile phase (am I the first to coin this term?) and don’t really need an excuse to post a photo of anything oxalis, or clover for that matter.
I found this particular oxalis growing in an area of Dominica called Giraudel, right beneath the nipple fruit, in fact. The plant is used locally as an herbal tea for sore throats and has the local name ‘Malgoj.’* I saw it several times throughout the island, and later in St. Lucia as well.
This is what the leaves look like.
* Source: “Caribbean Wild Plants and Their Uses” by Penelope N. Honychurch.
Until about a year ago, I had no idea that there were so many different types of galanthus, or that there is a mini subculture of galanthophiles* who are REALLY hardcore into collecting and identifying the subtle variations and markings in these teeny flowering bulbs. Not that I blame them — once you’re made aware of the variations, it’s difficult to not be drawn in.
I was browsing garden magazines at a friend’s the other day and I believe it is the current issue of Gardens Illustrated that has an article on galanthus with a gorgeous photo of several individual petals lined up on a piece of wood. That photo alone is enough to turn me into a galanthonerd.
On a related note: the other day, while taking this photo, I asked my friend Barry if snowdrops have a scent. At the time I noted how difficult it is to get down that low onto the ground to take a whiff. It did not occur to me that I could pick a bloom and bring it up to my nose. Dur.
* I thought I was making up a new jazzy word, and imagined myself an absolute genius for a quick second, too until I did a search and discovered the term is in widespread use. And since the mid-nineteenth century no less. Am starting to wonder if the galanthogeeks would have me as one of their own regardless of my sincerity and commitment.
Early season blooms have started to appear this week in tandem with some other solid signs that we’ve turned a corner away from winter and closer to the start of spring here in my neck of the woods. While most gardeners are raving about the snowdrops — and they are beautiful, no doubt — I was most delighted to see another, though less popular harbinger of the season, Eranthis hyemalis unfurling in the sun for the first time.
Gardeners often complain about the difficulty in establishing eranthis, but most of my experiences with this early bloom have been with plants that appeared mysteriously from nowhere and established themselves with no work at all.
I think we could use more orange today.