It’s not all about the cactus, you know. So I thought I’d ease off the spiky photos and show you a little something else.
This lovely plant grows in pots around the front verandah of the house where I stayed, both inside and out. I love the soft red-brown flowers. They’re such a lovely color. I want fabric and yarn and beads in this color. I want a long, flowy almost diaphanous dress in this color. Oh, but wait. Look a little closer:
They have spikes, too! Beautiful and aggressive. There’s one plant that is famous for its spikiness. It’s not a cactus, but it’s the one I have to watch out for when I’m out on my bike. Casually riding over it, alive or dead, can puncture a tire … something I’ve learned from experience. Twice. Everyone calls it “makka,” but I can’t find anything under that name on Google that looks anything like this self-protecting plant. If you recognize it and can name it, please clue me in:
The first picture shows the dried version, the second photo shows it young and fresh. These spikes are not playing around. They will happily poke through your tire — or you — with no provocation.
Ok, but I was going to be less prickly today. So. Away from the spiky plants. Here’s a pretty thing I saw on my first morning out and about. These were strung along this tree-high bush, all pretty and red and mysterious. I have no idea what they are, but they’re nice. I wonder if they’re edible, but I chose not to risk life and limb to try and pick a few and bring them back to the house for identification.
And then there’s this lovely (click on the photo to see the bonus companion lizard). This must be half cheating on the non-prickly, however, because it seems to grow from a cactus. I’ve always called this a starfish flower because, well, it looks like a starfish. Apparently, it’s commonly known as a carrion flower. Can I just say: Ewww! It’s supposed to have a smell like rotting flesh, but I never noticed anything so ugly and this was growing right behind the house. Maybe it’s a rare, odorless carrion flower? Who knows. In any case, I was quite happy when I downloaded my photos to find that lizard. I hadn’t noticed him when I was taking the picture!
These are the famous sea grapes, offically called the “Coccoloba uvifera.” I’d been hearing a lot about sea grapes, but thinking I’d never seen them. Turns out, I just haven’t been around at the right time to see them. The fruit matures in late summer, early fall. I’ve seen the plants all over the place in the past, and now I’ve seen the fruit, too. These plants are wind resistant and protect beaches during storms, preventing loss of sand and dunes. The grapes are supposed to be really good, too, but I didn’t climb up and taste them. They were at the edge of some private property, and I chose not to trespass. Maybe I’ll see some ‘free’ ones next trip.
I found these on the beach, too. I have no idea what they are. I thought they might be related in some way to the sea grapes because they grow so closely together, but I just don’t know. Anyone recognize them? They remind me of milkweed, but I know that’s not what they are.
And finally there’s the orchid tree. This pretty tree is growing in the front yard at the house where I stayed. My research tells me that orchid trees are supposed to only be in southeast Asia … but then mongoose are only supposed to be in Eurasia and Africa, and there are plenty of them running around on the south coast.*
It’s a Doctor Bird, the national bird of Jamaica. I’ve never seen one before. I’ve seen stylized ones all over the place (the Air Jamaica logo is a stylized doctor bird), but never the real thing. I took these three shots very quickly and tried to move around to get shots of him from the front, but he flew off the moment I moved. He’s a cute little thing, isn’t he?
As with the cactus photos, it’s clear to me that I need to spend some serious nature photography time in Jamaica. There’s so much more to shoot!
* A plantation owner imported them. Tired of losing his valuable slave labor to snakebites, you see. And they cleared out the snake population in the area. Now they live on frogs and crabs and who knows what-all else. The first time I saw one, I thought I must be imagining it. How could there be mongoose in Jamaica? And yet.