Tag Archives: milkweed

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Perhaps if we renamed them

Did you know?

About a year ago a friend of mine was out trying to buy milkweeds for her gardens. That reminded me that I wanted a milkweed, too. I went searching but couldn’t find regular, everyday milkweeds at any of the nurseries. I’m thinking that, perhaps, if we were to rename them, say, butterfly bushes, the nurseries might carry them. Anyways……..

The last nursery I stopped at had an interesting tree near the checkout stand. Looked like this:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

I wandered around the nursery looking for plants that I didn’t have, that I needed, that I wanted. I found a few, but I kept coming back to that tree with the Chinese lanterns hanging on it.

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

I had not seen any for sale so I asked about it. The plant lady told me that it was a Gomphocarpus physocarpus, that it was in the milkweed family, and that it always had monarch caterpillars and butterflies on it each year. She said she thought it was about ten years old.

I asked her if she had any for sale. She had “a few in back” so she went to get me one. It was just a little thing on July 17, 2018:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Here is what mine looked like on May 26 when I saw the first monarch butterfly on it:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

It looks like this today, full of Chinese lanterns:

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

This thing blooms year-round, and I have seen monarch butterflies on it, lots of caterpillars, but no chrysalises. I’m thinking there might be some predators around who snack on the caterpillars before they can hide in their chrysalises.

Here is a 31-second video of a monarch caterpillar chomping down on it:

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 12

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Continuing on our west to east travel on El Prado, after the Timken Museum of Art is the most photographed building in San Diego, the Botanical Building:

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

It is worthwhile to visit the Botanical Building anytime you are in Balboa Park because, along with the resident plants, there are seasonal displays created by many of the plant societies throughout San Diego County. The most recent display comprises leftover orchids from the latest show of the San Diego Orchid Society.

Orchid Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos of La Mesa California

Orchid Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos of La Mesa California

I could tolerate a few leftover orchids in my gardens!

The Botanical Building and the Lily Pond (aka the Reflecting Pool) were built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1916. The building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. Plantings include more than 2,100 permanent plants comprising mostly cycads, ferns, orchids, palms, and similar tropical plants. The meat-eating-plants bog is one of the best.

Pitcher Plants

The Lily Pond was severely damaged in late 2012 when someone promoted via Facebook a midnight party at the pond. The party turned into a drunken brawl, destroying all of the lilies and damaging the pond and its infrastructure to the tune of about $100,000. Sadly, the perpetrators have not been caught.

 Water Lily

Water Lily

Water lily

Just outside the two entrances to the Botanical Building are two tall, scraggly bushes. The flowers are beautiful:

Flower of the California milkweed

The bushes are Crown Plants (Calotropis gigantea), a member of the milkweed family, which means that throughout the year you can find monarch caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies.

Monarch caterpillars, September 2011, San Diego

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Not surprisingly, adults tend to walk right on by the scraggly bushes. Children, however, are quick to spot the butterflies and caterpillars. If only children didn’t have to grow up to be adults………..

The Lily Pond also is home to fish (mostly koi), the occasional turtle, and birds.

Koi

Sadly, many of the fish and turtles are unwanted “pets” that owners didn’t want anymore, so they dump them in the Lily Pond. The birds, however, come and go, and quite often you can find some Mandarin Ducks hanging out.

Mandarin duck

Admission to the Botanical Building is free. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but is closed on Thursdays and holidays. Closing on holidays is somewhat strange because Balboa Park gets extremely crowded on holidays since it’s a regional attraction and destination.

Lotus

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

For more about the monarchs of Balboa Park, see my post Monarch—Caterpillar to butterfly (WARNING: graphic content).

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Monarch—Caterpillar to butterfly (WARNING: graphic content)

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love it when it brings new knowledge into my little head, like the Internet and new genome techniques. I hate it when it tries to control my life, like cell phones and cable television.

Yesterday at dawn, I went to Balboa Park to get some “golden hour” pictures for my San Diego Historical Landmark El Prado series.

At the two entrances to the Botanical Building are two large bushes. They always look rather scraggly, like this from yesterday:

Scraggly bush at the entrance to the Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

They look like overgrown weeds, so adults tend to pass right by them. Children (my friends say that I’m a 10-year-old child trapped in a
59-year-old body) notice very quickly that these bushes are unique. Throughout the year one can find these little critters all over the two bushes:

Monarch caterpillar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Do you recognize that little one? Sure, it’s a caterpillar, but more importantly it’s the late stage (called an instar) of a monarch caterpillar. That little one is so big that it probably started pupating the moment I got my picture and left.

Here is a picture of one that is just beginning to pupate:

Pupating Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you see a caterpillar hanging upside down and curling up like that, take a look 24 hours later and you’ll probably see a chrysalis, also called a pupa. Looks like this:

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Keep an eye on that chrysalis for the next two weeks and you might be lucky to see a monarch butterfly emerge.

Monarch out of bounds

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

(If you’re interested in creating the “out of bounds” effect like above, see my post here: https://russelrayphotos2.com/2013/10/22/how-to-create-the-out-of-bounds-effect-in-photoshop/ .)

Most people know that the Monarch caterpillar feeds only on milkweeds but that plant in the red circle in the first picture does not look like any milkweed I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not a milkweed. According to the little sign at the bottom of each bush is this:

Calotropis gigantea

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sure enough, that’s not a milkweed.

Ah, but not so fast, grasshopper!

See what it says in the bottom left corner? Asclepiadaceae. That’s the subfamily. That’s where modern genetics and genetic coding (genome) comes into play. Except in the rarest of cases, we didn’t use to have subfamilies. This plant would have been noted as being in the Apocynaceae family, also known as dogbanes. Ah-ha! Guess what other plants are in the dogbane family? That’s right, boys and girls! Milkweed! Milkweed and this crown plant also are in the same Asclepiadaceae subfamily. That means they are very closely related, according to the folks decoding those genomes. That explains why the monarch butterfly loves this plant!

Although it is a scraggly bush, along with the monarch caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies, the flowers are very beautiful, albeit small and well camouflaged with the leaves. Flowers look like this:

Calotropis gigantea flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Botanical Building, according to sources, is the most photographed building in San Diego, and when you’re casually traipsing through Balboa Park, you can’t possibly miss it. Looks like this:

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lastly, in the second picture, you might have had problems (like I did!) determining which end of the caterpillar is the front end and which end is the back end. After looking at a goodly number of the caterpillars, I determined that the back end has shorter antennae. Of course, the back end also is the end that poops. Here is a caterpillar checking out its poop:

Monarch caterpillar and its poop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you don’t like using words like crap, poop, and the S word, frass is a term we use in the home inspection industry. Frass is an informal and loose definition usually used when referring to the poop of insects. Since it is a loose and informal definition, I give you permission to use it when referring to human poop, now also known as human frass.

As I was trying to find out which end was the front end, I came across an interesting 39-second video on YouTube that pretty much confirmed my thinking:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Must be nice to be able to eat and poop at the same time! And on that note:

THE END

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

►►►►◄◄◄◄

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

►►►►◄◄◄◄

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray

Out & About San Diego — #4: Go to an orchid show, come home with….

Out & About San Diego

Three friends and I went to Balboa Park to go to the San Diego Orchid Society’s winter show yesterday. I came home with 132 pictures of orchids, but I also came home with this picture:

Monarch butterfly in San Diego

  

That’s a male monarch butterfly. A female would have a little black dot on its wing.

After leaving the orchid show, we went over to the Botanical Building, just a few hundred feet away from where the orchid show was. The Botanical Building was also full of orchids but nothing that we hadn’t already seen at the orchid show.

That beautiful monarch butterfly was sitting outside the entrance to the Botanical Building when we went in. I would have stopped then to take its picture, but there was already a group of photographers waiting their turn. Since I have pictures of monarch butterflies, I decided to skip the monarch line.

When we came out, our monarch was still sitting there but there was no line. So I quickly made a line of one and came home with that picture.

Right next to where the monarch was sitting is a California milkweed (Asclepias californica), which I just identified tonight while writing this post. Monarchs love milkweeds, basically needing them to survive.

During the summer the milkweed is full of monarch caterpillars:

Monarch caterpillars, September 2011, San Diego

  

Monarch caterpillars, September 2011, San Diego

  

Monarch caterpillar chrysalis, September 2011, San Diego

  

Here is a picture of the flowers of the California milkweed:

Flower of the California milkweed

  

Pictures taken by Russel Ray using a Canon 550D and post-processing using Corel PaintShop Pro X4.

  

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat