Here’s a great video on plant fire adaptations

I keep meaning to write a long, detailed post about fire-adapted plants. I might still do that one of these days, but this video about plants and fire in the scrublands of central Florida covers it so well I don’t feel like I have to.

Springtime in a Sydney suburb

Time for another international guest post! Maddy sent me this absolutely beautiful photo essay from Australia, where it looks to be a lovely spring. I’m jealous, sitting here in the cooling, darkening US! Please enjoy her spring flowers, and then go check out her blog, Maddy At Home.


Thank you Bethany, for inviting me to post on your blog.

Springtime244When people think of Australia, they think of extreme heat, the outback, and perhaps gum trees. They may not be aware of the wonderful flowers, shrubs and trees that we take for granted as we go about our business every day in the city.

My name is Maddy and I live in an inner suburb of Sydney in New South Wales. As the Northern Hemisphere heads into the depth of winter, I wanted to share with you the colorful springtime that we are privileged to enjoy.

IMG_20151025_165505_zpsgvdg7rbvOver the last few weeks I have been having a lovely view from my kitchen window. When the afternoon sun plays on the brilliant pink bougainvillea it is a sight to behold, but the photo really doesn’t do it justice. My outlook is otherwise not the best, but in spring it really is a treat! Moving round to the small garden in the front of our units, I have another bougainvillea in deep purple that you can see in one of the photos below. I have to constantly cut it back lest it completely take over my balcony. Many people find this colorful shrub to be a nuisance because cutting it back only makes it grow quicker. The job of pruning it is not a pleasant one because it has sharp thorns all along its stems. Continue reading Springtime in a Sydney suburb

Passionflower

This week’s DP Photo Challenge theme was “Ornate.”

Sometimes you see a flower and think, “Oh, isn’t that pretty?”

And then there are the times you see a flower and think, “Whoa, Nature! You’re just going overboard now.”

This Passiflora incarnata flower is an example of the latter.

It really does freeze in Florida sometimes

Frost on turkey oak leaves.
Frost on turkey oak leaves

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary,” here are some leaves from an extremely ordinary tree. Turkey oaks are all over Florida. They’re so common you kind of stop seeing them after a while. They are scrubby, brittle trees that fall over if you look at them wrong. But that’s fine, because a hundred little saplings will sprout from the roots.

I took this on a cold morning a few years ago, when I was helping with a bobwhite quail survey in the Florida panhandle. I arrived at dawn, took up my post on a specific point at the edge of a field. It was a very cold morning for the area, and there was still frost on the leaves and grass as the sun rose. It made even the ordinary, scrubby, weed-like turkey oaks beautiful.

I took a couple of pictures and then stood there, shivering, and listened very hard. After a while, I almost started to hallucinate possible quail calls. Then I heard some real ones that reminded me of what they really sound like. You can hear it, too.

Guest Post: Tulsi

In spite of its focus on a single region of a single country, Overlooked Nature has a surprisingly international readership. So, to take advantage of my viewers’ wide-ranging knowledge, I’m introducing a new monthly-ish feature: International Featured Creatures! My first guest blogger is Anand from blabberwockying!, one of the most prolific, upbeat, and friendly bloggers I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. — Bethany


Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Ocimum sanctumholy basil, or Tulsi, is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native to the Indian subcontinent and widespread as a cultivated plant throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. It is an erect, many branched subshrub, with tall and hairy stems and simple green or purple leaves that are strongly scented.

The word Tulsi literally means “The Incomparable One.” Tulsi is one of the most used plants in Hindu Indian families. Hinduism has a great respect for this plant and it has been revered in scriptures and mythologies for at least last 5000 years. The leaves of this plant are used to worship deities.The stalks and branches of this plant are used in sacrificial fire rituals called Homams which purify the environment. They are also used to prepare beads of rosaries which are used to wear around the necks and also for chanting by devotees.

In Ayurveda, Tulsi is known as elixir of life, as it promotes longevity. It’s an adaptogen and it balances various processes in body. It’s consumed in various forms such as dried leaves, green leaves, powder, in herbal tea and in many cuisines. Thai cuisine uses it under name Thai Holy Basil. Some researchers have claimed that Tulsi has the capacity to help patients fighting with cancer.

It’s also a deity called Vrinda, Vaishnavi, Haripriya, Rama and by many other names in Indian mythology. Vrindavan is a place of pilgrimage in North India which was named so because it had a lot of Tulsi groves in ancient times. The word Vrinda is for Tulsi and Van is for Woods–so this place got its name from the groves of Tulsi it had.

The two varieties of Tulsi leaves grown in Indian subcontinent have green and purple leaves. It has an astringent taste and a distinct aroma which is sweet. This plant is kept in almost every house and serving it is considered very auspicious in Indian tradition. Every worship and ritual among Hindus is incomplete without Tulsi, especially amongst Vaishnavites.

Some rights reserved. Photographer: Vinayaraj
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0) Some rights reserved. Photographer: Vinayaraj

Anand is a retired blogger who likes to write on mysticism, astrology, films and life.