Until recently I was unaware that witch hazel is cold tolerant in my climate. Here’s the evidence: a large witch hazel tree in full bloom just this morning in my friend’s garden.
We’re experiencing a warm and sunny spell here in Toronto that is lifting our collective spirits. Suddenly things are in bloom as if it is spring. But it isn’t really quite spring and I keep reminding myself that while all signs point to it, we could have another blizzard ahead of us just yet.
March is a deceptively soft and cuddly lamb, for now.
More witch hazel:
Ackee is a lychee-like fruit that is poisonous when raw and must be put through a series of processes to make it edible. Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national meal. It is popular in many other parts of the Caribbean but seems to be overlooked in Dominica. On the other hand, saltish seasoned with hot peppers and onion is very popular in Dominica and often eaten with breakfast.
I had never seen an ackee tree up close and didn’t realize how high on my list of experiences it was until I spotted this one in the Kalinago Territory on Dominica’s East Coast. Beautiful, don’t you think?
More on ackee.
More on saltfish.
I took this photo in Dominica on an organic farm tour in an area called Bellvue Chopin. Our tour was with Roy Ormond. If you ever get a chance to do a tour I encourage you to seek him out specifically. The farm specializes in traditional herbal medicines and Mr. Ormond was very knowledgeable and generous in sharing that knowledge.
That morning, including these adorable little tortoises, was one of the highlights of my trip.
Considering the wide breadth of plant photos I took through our month in the Caribbean, it comes as a surprise how often I keep reaching for images of ginger family plants to show here. Perhaps it is because there are just so many more than I ever imagined, or perhaps because the remainder of he winter has been gray and these flowers are bold and BRIGHT. Whatever the reason, here’s another one.
The spiral growth pattern of this one is unique and I believe we saw a variegated version of it as well, but try as I might, I was unable to find a photo in my files. Meanwhile, I only have about 30 more rolls of film to develop (about 360 images) from that trip alone! There is also a bag of film with rolls dating back to last August.
I suppose it could be in there somewhere.
This is a tricky one as I haven’t yet properly identified it. Perhaps you can help? I took this picture at Papillote Gardens in Dominica. The tag read, “amomum cardamomum”, but both are actually words for cardamom and together do not make a botanical name. It was definitely a type of cardamom or at the very least, something in the ginger family. It turns out that there are a lot more ginger family plants than I ever imagined so my claim to knowledge in this area is forever humbled.
My best guess is that this is some kind of black cardamom (Amomum subulatum) or Amomum subulatum fresh off the plant. I have searched high and low but have been unable to find a photo of the plant with fresh pods to confirm its identification. My other thought is that it could be some kind of related, inferior (or false) cardamom that I’ve never heard of.
And so I put it out to you. What do you think it is?
As Davin was holding the open pod, the purple colour staining his skin (which I might add he picked and opened without encouragement from me) he kept saying, “I hope this isn’t poisonous.” I suggested that if there was any doubt, he should wash his hand immediately and refrain from sticking it in his mouth anytime soon. And then, you know, hope that skin contact doesn’t act as a good delivery system for this particular poison. Two months later he is still alive so apparently it wasn’t.
The life of a botanical hand model is wrought with peril.
UPDATE: Polly Pattullo of Papillote Press (who also happens to live nearby to the garden where this photo was taken) has updated me to say that the plant was identified as Renealmia alpinia, a common member of the Ginger Family (Zingiberaceae). Apparently, the leaves are used for cooking fish, and she has been pounding the seeds and roasting for use in cooking.